Wednesday, September 9, 2015

GeoPackage Vision

I am regularly asked about the vision for GeoPackage. For example, is it a simple container or does it have any higher level semantics? While the GeoPackage Standards Working Group (SWG) has not produced a formal vision statement, I believe something like the following would be appropriate:
The GeoPackage SWG develops and maintains the GeoPackage Encoding Standard as the standard for interoperable exchange of geospatial data and information using SQLite.
GeoPackage is simply a schema for data stored in an SQLite database. Note that I made no explicit mention of mobile here. GeoPackage is not just a standard for mobile! While mobile is clearly a major thrust of GeoPackage, it is not the only one. The great thing about SQLite is that it can be used in nearly every modern computing environment from a mobile device to the desktop up to the cloud. 

Because GeoPackage is so flexible, we envision it being used in a wide variety of ways. We foresee GeoPackage being a partial replacement[1] for the Shapefile format[2]. Organizations within the US government are exploring ways to distribute geospatial data assets in the format. As organizations continue to adopt GeoPackage, they will continue to find new and innovative uses for it. Some of them will be mobile-based and some will not.

[1] I don’t want to overstate this point. I use the term “partial” because GeoJSON is a perfectly suitable replacement for Shapefile for many scenarios. Both formats overcome many of Shapefile’s limitations. GeoPackage is more complex than GeoJSON but it also provides a number of additional capabilities that some scenarios demand.
[2] See the Shapefile Challenge at

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