Introduction to GDAL

using GDAL to process GIS data
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  • Lectures 8
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 5/2016 English

Course Description

 Do you have lots of spatial data that you need to process?  Do you work with really large datasets that are unmanageable with a traditional GIS?  Do you need to access and exchange spatial data in different formats, and different systems?  And, has the price of commercial offerings shocked you?  If so, this course will teach you how to process very large spatial data, in different formats using simple command line syntax, using the free and open source product GDAL. 

GDAL is one of the jewels of the open source community, and I want to help you understand how to leverage its power to process spatial data. 

We'll start off slow, and I will show you how to manipulate raster and vector data with the GDAL command line.  Then, before you know it, you'll be writing batch scripts to perform real world GIS processing. Finally, you'll end by creating an Extraction, Translate, and Loading (ETL) tool with a single GDAL command (some people pay thousands of dollars just to complete this task!). 

Like all my courses, I'll work alongside you so that you actually learn how to do his.  Be careful: after taking this course, you may never want to use a GIS GUI again.  

What are the requirements?

  • Students should be familiar with GIS
  • You should be familiar with the DOS command prompt, as we'll write lots of command from there.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • understand what GDAL is, and how it is used
  • know how to read and interpret the help dialog for issuing GDAL commands
  • write single line GDAL commands to processing raster and vector data
  • write GDAL batch scripts to process raster and vector data
  • use GDAL to solve a real-world multi-criteria problem
  • create your own Extraction, Translation, and Loading (ETL) module with GDAL and multiple databases

Who is the target audience?

  • People who want to learn about how to use open source tools for managing spatial data.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: A quick introduction to GDAL

This is just a quick introduction to the course where I'm going to blow through a number of scenarios in which you'd use GDAL.  I won't be explaining any of the code, just showing you what GDAL can do.  But don't worry, we'll show you how to write code throughout the course.


This is our first official module in this course.  You can work alongside me by downloading the training material in this section (


In this module, we'll focus on raster based functionality in GDAL which will include getting information about rasters, merging rasters, and creating contours on raster data.


While GDAL allows you to perform many different functions, this video will show you how to use the raster functions gdalinfo, gdal_merge, gdalwarp, gdalcontour, gdaldem (including functions: hillshade, slope, aspect, terrain ruggedness), gdal_grid, gdal_calc, and gdal_manage (to identify, copy, and delete raster data).

Section 2: Real World Projects

This is a fun little project where we'll work with a raster data set to find the optimal habitat for a mythical creature using raster based processes.  The scenario is very simple so that it is easy to get started, but once you are done, you'll begin to see the potential of using GDAL for raster analysis.


So far, we've only been looking at single commands from the command line.  In this lecture we'll learn how to create a batch script so that you can string many commands together in a single file.


We'll take a break from raster processing and show you how to use ogr2ogr for processing vector data.  In this lecture we'll pull data out of a database, transform the data, and then perform vector based analysis.  You'll also see how you can incorporate SQL into your ogr2ogr commands for really powerful analysis.


In this video, we will create a sophisticated database Extract, Translate, and Load (ETL) procedure to extract data from one database, translate it into a new format, and then load it in another database.  This may be the best 12 minutes of the course!!  It really is astounding that in a few short minutes, we'll create a tool to actually perform a relatively sophisticated ETL routine.

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Instructor Biography

Dr. Arthur J. Lembo, Jr. is an educator with a passion for GIS and almost 30 years of GIS industry experience.

Currently, Dr. Lembo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Geosciences at Salisbury University, where he is also the Technical Director of the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative. Dr. Lembo has published numerous academic papers on GIS, authored a leading textbook on Statistical Problem Solving in Geography, and conducted sponsored research for organizations like the National Science Foundation, NASA, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Kellogg Foundation.

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