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On our aerial wildlife surveys we typically generate dozens of GPX files, and usually convert most of them into shapefiles for display in a GIS application. GPX files are a terrific way of keeping all (or almost all) of your GPS data in one place – they are xml files that store tracklog, waypoint & route information in one convenient format. They store multiple tracks, even old saved tracks from a Garmin.

I'd like to store all this track data in a spatialite database, in parallel with other tables that have point observational data from the same survey.

ogr2ogr will let me convert the track to a spatialite database:

ogr2ogr -append -f "SQLite" -dsco SPATIALITE=yes # add to table with Spatialite filetype
  -dsco INIT_WITH_EPSG=yes -t_srs epsg:4326 # using WGS84
  SURVEYDATA.sqlite GPXFILE.gpx tracks -nln tracktable; # adding tracks to 'tracktable'

However, this imports each saved track as a line – losing the time / location information for each track point!

Anyone know of any clever ways of building a tracklog database that will preserve that information?


Tracklogs are not just a line - they are collections of sequential points, each with an elevation and time attribute. Each point belongs to a track segment, which in turn belong to a given track, and points within each track segment were taken without interruption and may be assumed to be linked. For example:

<trk><name>ACTIVE LOG</name>
<trkpt lat="-13.471403" lon="31.382982"><ele>467.818725585938</ele><time>2009-09-09T03:53:38Z</time></trkpt>
<trkpt lat="-13.471403" lon="31.382982"><ele>468.780029296875</ele><time>2009-09-09T03:53:50Z</time></trkpt>
<trkpt lat="-13.471403" lon="31.382982"><ele>465.896118164063</ele><time>2009-09-09T03:54:43Z</time></trkpt>

Thus, to save a tracklog you need to save this collection of points with their associated data.

One solution might be to load these tracks as points, with additional columns for track name, segment, elevation and time; I don't think ogr will convert the tracks as points, though.

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We use FME safe.com/fme/fme-technology/fme-desktop/features and it maintains all the attribution you want into an Oracle Database –  Mapperz Aug 31 '12 at 16:51
@Mapperz - does FME have a specific method for saving GPX files? I'm really after an FOSS solution though. –  Simbamangu Sep 1 '12 at 6:12

5 Answers 5

There are some ideas here for creating your own program to extract gpx data in python or perl. From here it's not too much of a stretch to put the data into a spatialite database. You will need to think about a suitable schema for storing in spatialite - what attributes do you want to keep?).

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To further your comment - "does FME have a specific method for saving GPX files?"

Yes you have full control on the routes, waypoints, tracks and metadata enter image description here

FME is a very worthy and powerful tool to manipulate gis data and non-spatial data together.

see for more details http://evangelism.safe.com/fmeevangelist26/

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This looks like a pretty amazing database system – will give it a try. –  Simbamangu Sep 6 '12 at 5:35

If you want to go the OGR route, the best approach is to export to Shapefile first, which will export multiple shapefiles representing the waypoint/trackpoint/way/track distinction and the associated metadata, and then merge each set of files into your main SQLite database.

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Try adding


to your ogr2ogr command

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I tried this on a new table - with no effect on the resulting fields or data. What are you expecting it to do? –  Simbamangu Sep 1 '12 at 6:33
I was expecting to get the extended attributes. Rereading your question, I don't think there's anyway to get each individual track point times other than exporting the track as points themselves. –  Micha Sep 1 '12 at 14:00

ptrv/gpx2spatialite does this remarkably well, saving timestamps for all points and deriving speed and length data for tracks. It also won't import duplicate tracks, so you can feed it a huge pile for GPX files and it will munge them appropriately.

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