RFC 98: Build requirements for GDAL 3.9


Even Rouault


even.rouault @ spatialys.com




Adopted, implemented


GDAL 3.9


The document updates RFC 68: C++11 Compilation Mode with the new build requirements for GDAL 3.9:

  • C++ >= 17

  • CMake >= 3.16

  • PROJ >= 6.3.1.

The minimum version for the following optional dependencies is also updated:

  • Python >= 3.8

  • GEOS >= 3.8

  • Poppler >= 0.86

  • libtiff >= 4.1

  • libcurl >= 7.68

  • libpng >= 1.6.0

  • libsqlite3 >= 3.31

  • libopenjp2 >= 2.3.1

  • libnetcdf >= 4.7 and built with NC4 enabled

  • libhdf5 >= 1.10


Our past build requirements were C++11, CMake 3.9, and PROJ 6.0.0. All of them correspond to now outdated versions of those components, and it makes sense to update to more up-to-date versions to be able to clean up code, leverage new capabilities and be consistent with the current state of our software environment.

The proposed updates are all compatible with versions of those components available by default in the old LTS (Long Term Support) Ubuntu 20.04, which corresponds to the oldest environment used by our continuous integration:

  • C++17 is the minimum version required by the latest versions of some of our C++ dependencies, including Poppler, PDFium, PoDoFo, TileDB, libarrow-cpp. Ubuntu 20.04 includes GCC 9.4, which supports C++17. While we want to allow C++17 features to build GDAL, for now, we will stick to exposing at most C++11 features in the exported headers of the library to minimize disruption for GDAL C++ users. That might be revisited later. At the time of writing, the C++17 requirement has already been implemented in master / 3.9.0dev.

  • CMake 3.16.0 was released in November 2019. Updating to CMake 3.16 enables us to make a number of cleanups in GDAL CMakeLists.txt scripts, and in particular to make it possible to use the [CMAKE_UNITY_BUILD](https://cmake.org/cmake/help/latest/variable/CMAKE_UNITY_BUILD.html) feature. Ubuntu 20.04 includes CMake 3.16.4.

  • PROJ 6.3.1 was released in February 2020. Updating to that version implies PROJ >= 6.2 and the availability of PROJJSON output, and PROJ >= 6.3 enables us to remove a few specific code paths in ogrct.cpp. Ubuntu 20.04 includes PROJ 6.3.1. Earlier PROJ 6.x versions had a number of annoying issues.

By the time GDAL 3.9 is released (May 2024), all the above requirements correspond to versions of the tools/libraries that have been released more than 4 years earlier.

More generally, we also update requirements for optional dependencies to be consistent with the versions available in Ubuntu 20.04, to eliminate code paths that are no longer exercised by our continuous integration:

  • Python >= 3.8: Python 3.7 is already end-of-life (https://devguide.python.org/versions/) Python 3.8 is the minimum version used by our CI

  • GEOS >= 3.8: ensures that MakeValid() is available when GEOS is available, which simplifies the code base and test suite

  • Poppler >= 0.86: removes a lot of #ifdef trickery in the PDF driver

  • libtiff >= 4.1: simplifies a few code paths in the GeoTIFF driver

  • libcurl >= 7.68: removes outdated code paths in CPL networking code

  • libpng >= 1.6.0: removes outdated code paths in the PNG driver

  • libsqlite3 >= 3.31: removes outdated code paths in the SQLite and GPKG drivers

  • libopenjp2 >= 2.3.1: removes outdated code paths in the OpenJPEG driver

  • libnetcdf >= 4.7 built with NC4 support enabled (i.e. libnetcdf built against libhdf5): removes #ifdef code paths in netCDF driver. The netCDF multidimensional code already requires NC4.

  • libhdf5 >= 1.10: removes outdated code paths in the HDF5 driver

C++17 capable compilers

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%2B%2B17, compilers supporting C++17 are:

  • GCC >= 8

  • clang >= 5

  • Visual Studio >= 2017 15.8 (MSVC 19.15)

C++14 and C++17 features

Features that can be used in the code base (not an exhaustive list):

  • Use of std::make_unique<> instead of cpl::make_unique<>

  • Use of [[fallthrough]] instead of CPL_FALLTHROUGH

  • Use of [[maybe_unused]] instead of CPL_UNUSED

  • Nicer iteration in std::map with for (const auto &[key, value]: my_map ) (more generally "structured binding declarations")

Banned features:

Changes in continuous integration

Continuous integration is modified to test configurations that have at least the new set of build requirements.

Changes in SWIG bindings


Backward compatibility

No change in API and ABI


The Build requirements documentation page will be updated.


The existing autotest suite should continue to pass.

Voting history

+1 from PSC members JavierJS, KurstS, HowardB, JukkaR and EvenR