Virtual Spatial Data

This is an OGR extension to MapServer. It allows you to connect to databases that do not explicitly hold spatial data, as well as flat text files. Your data must have an X and a Y column, and the data may be accessed through an ODBC connection or a direct pointer to a text file.

The original VirtualSpatialData wiki page may contain additional information.

Types of Databases

The VirtualSpatialData OGR extension has been tested with the following databases and should, in theory, support all ODBC data sources.

  • Oracle
  • MySQL
  • SQL Server
  • Access
  • PostgreSQL

Types of Flat Files

Comma, tab or custom delimited text/flat files work with VirtualSpatialData.

Steps for Display

1. Create the Datasource Name (DSN)

  • Specific notes about creating a DSN on Windows and Linux can be found by searching the MapServer reference documents site
  • On some Windows systems you must create a SYSTEM DSN.

2. Test your Connection

Test your connection with ogrinfo. The syntax for this command is:

> ogrinfo ODBC:user/pass@DSN table

Windows users may not be required to specify a user/password, so the syntax would be:

> ogrinfo ODBC:@DSN table

Example: Accessing a comma separated text file through ODBC using ogrinfo

The following is a snippet of the flat text file coal_dep.txt containing lat/long points:

unknown,na,id,id2,mark,coalkey,coalkey2,long,lat
0.000,0.000,1,1,7,87,87,76.90238,51.07161
0.000,0.000,2,2,7,110,110,78.53851,50.69403
0.000,0.000,3,3,3,112,112,83.22586,71.24420
0.000,0.000,4,4,6,114,114,80.79896,73.41175

If the DSN name is Data_txt, the ogrinfo command to see a list of applicable files in the directory is:

> ogrinfo ODBC:jeff/test@Data_txt
INFO: Open of `ODBC:jeff/test@Data_txt'
using driver `ODBC' successful.
1: coal_dep.csv
2: coal_dep.txt
3: coal_dep_nf.txt
4: coal_dep_trim.txt
5: Copy of coal_dep.txt
6: deposit.csv
7: maruia.asc
8: oahuGISbathy.csv
9: oahuGISbathy.txt
10: on_pts.txt
11: on_pts_utm.txt
12: test.txt
13: utm_test.txt

Username and password may be optional, so the following may also be valid:

> ogrinfo ODBC:@Data_txt

Therefore, the command to see more information about one of the specific layers is:

> ogrinfo ODBC:@Data_txt coal_dep.txt
INFO: Open of `ODBC:@Data_txt'
using driver `ODBC' successful.

Layer name: coal_dep.txt
Geometry: Unknown (any)
Feature Count: 266
Layer SRS WKT:
(unknown)
UNKNOWN: String (255.0)
NA: String (255.0)
ID: String (255.0)
ID2: String (255.0)
MARK: String (255.0)
COALKEY: String (255.0)
COALKEY2: String (255.0)
LONG: String (255.0)
LAT: String (255.0)
OGRFeature(coal_dep.txt):0
UNKNOWN (String) = 0.000
....

3. Create a Virtual Data File

This is a file with an ovf extension and looks like the following:

<OGRVRTDataSource>
        <OGRVRTLayer name="mylayer">
        <SrcDataSource>ODBC:user/pass@DSN</SrcDataSource>
        <SrcLayer>tablename</SrcLayer>
        <GeometryType>wkbPoint</GeometryType>
        <LayerSRS>WGS84</LayerSRS>
        <GeometryField encoding="PointFromColumns" x="x" y="y"/>
        </OGRVRTLayer>
</OGRVRTDataSource>

More information on ovf files can be found at: http://www.gdal.org/ogr/drv_vrt.html

Example ovf file for coal_dep.txt:

<OGRVRTDataSource>
        <OGRVRTLayer  name="coal-test">
        <SrcDataSource>ODBC:Data_txt</SrcDataSource>
        <SrcLayer>coal_dep.txt</SrcLayer>
        <GeometryField encoding="PointFromColumns" x="Long" y="Lat"/>
        <GeometryType>wkbPoint</GeometryType>
        </OGRVRTLayer>
</OGRVRTDataSource>

4. Test Virtual Data File with ogrinfo

Use ogrinfo to test your new ovf file, such as:

> ogrinfo coal.ovf coal-test
ERROR 4: Update access not supported for VRT datasources.
Had to open data source read-only.
INFO: Open of `myfile.ovf'
using driver `VRT' successful.

Layer name: coal_dep.txt
Geometry: Unknown (any)
Feature Count: 266
Layer SRS WKT:
(unknown)
UNKNOWN: String (255.0)
NA: String (255.0)
ID: String (255.0)
ID2: String (255.0)
MARK: String (255.0)
...

5. Mapfile Layer

Using an ovf file your layer may look like:

LAYER
  CONNECTION "coal.ovf"
  CONNECTIONTYPE OGR
  DATA "coal-test"
    METADATA
      "wms_srs"   "4326"
      "wms_title"   "coal-test"
    END
  NAME "coal-test"
  SIZEUNITS PIXELS
  STATUS ON
  TOLERANCE 0
  TOLERANCEUNITS PIXELS
  TYPE POINT
  UNITS METERS
  CLASS
    STYLE
      COLOR 255 0 0
      MAXSIZE 100
      MINSIZE 1
      SIZE 6
      SYMBOL "star"
    END
  END
END

Note

For the CONNECTION, you can specify an absolute path, or a relative path. Relative paths are interpreted relative to the SHAPEPATH first, if not found then MapServer will try again relative to the .map location. For more information about connection rules please read the MapServer OGR document.

Or you may specify the ovf contents inline such as:

LAYER
  CONNECTION "<OGRVRTDataSource>
    <OGRVRTLayer  name='coal-test'>
    <SrcDataSource>ODBC:@Data_txt</SrcDataSource>
    <SrcLayer>coal_dep.txt</SrcLayer>
    <GeometryField encoding='PointFromColumns' x='Long' y='Lat'/>
    <GeometryType>wkbPoint</GeometryType>
    </OGRVRTLayer>
    </OGRVRTDataSource>"
  CONNECTIONTYPE OGR
  DATA "coal-test"
  METADATA
    "wms_srs"   "4326"
    "wms_title"   "coal-test"
  END
  NAME "coal-test"
  SIZEUNITS PIXELS
  STATUS ON
  TOLERANCE 0
  TOLERANCEUNITS PIXELS
  TYPE POINT
  UNITS METERS
  CLASS
    STYLE
      COLOR 255 0 0
      MAXSIZE 100
      MINSIZE 1
      SIZE 6
      SYMBOL "star"
    END
  END
END

6. Test your Mapfile

The first thing you should try is to use the shp2img utility:

shp2img -m mymapfile.map -o test.png

Once you successfully created a map image, then try your application. Note Windows users may come across a problem where shp2img works but their application throws an error similar to this:

Warning: [MapServer Error]: msOGRFileOpen(): Open failed for OGR connection `coal.ovf'.
Unable to initialize ODBC connection to DSN for jeff/test@Data_txt,
[Microsoft][ODBC Driver Manager] Data source name not found
and no default driver specified in D:\ms4w\Apache\htdocs\quickmap.php on line 40

If that happens you should make sure you have created a System DSN.