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I remember reading something a few months back, in the latter half of 2012, about a coordinated group effort to design a new standard for sharing geographic / spatial data. It has or aims to have the potential of replacing the showing-its-age (20+ yrs) de-facto standard of the Esri as the means of choice for widely sharing our data across all devices and platforms. Aside from addressing the most pressing shapefile limitations, this new thing incorporates raster and metadata too.

This big-important-thing I don't recall is not SpatiaLite - Shapefile of the future? or Are there any attempts to replace the shapefile? but some of the conversation swirling around it was similar. I spent quite some time today trying to track this down, but my search-fu proved not up to the task (which might not bode well for its future).

Please, what is the name of this elusive project that has the potential to deeply impact all our workflows? (Assuming it gets off the drawing board, lord knows we need something to.) And, how or where does one get involved or at least keep track of it?

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To be fair, before I finished composing my question I stumbled across the answer by accident, but since it was hard for me track down I figure it's worth recording here for others. In your answers please do more than just post the name, a copy-paste blurb and a link. Txs. – matt wilkie Feb 14 '13 at 6:25
Maybe you could write an answer to the linked question. I hadn't heard of GeoPackage before now. – blah238 Feb 14 '13 at 6:30
thanks @blah238, I edited to insert the related SE discussion as it captures the background conditions well. I may write my own answer later this week if no one else does in the meantime. I've run out of my SE time quota for now :) – matt wilkie Feb 14 '13 at 6:33
#GeoPackage on Twitter: – blah238 Feb 14 '13 at 6:38
up vote 18 down vote accepted

The idea you're probably thinking of is GeoPackage.


The background to the requirement came from the US Army Geospatial Center which is part of the Corps of Engineers, who were looking for a way to put maps and other information (points or interest, routes, photographs and other observations) into a simple "one file has it all" format for mobile applications. The original development was done on public mailing lists (one for vectors and one for rasters/tiles) on google groups.

When the OGC started the OWS-9 testbed activity, the development and prototyping moved into the OGC. The reasons for it are a little complex, but it does appear to have been done with good intentions. The only problem is that you had to be "in" the OGC world to see what was happening. The two google groups lists are basically dead.

As OWS-9 came towards the end, the OGC (prompted by the NGA and US Army Geospatial center) spun up the standards working group (SWG) to develop a "proper" spec. The OGC has more detail on this. There was always an intent to get early feedback on the spec, and there was a public review activity, now closed. (Side note: if there is anything really important that might not have got submitted, and is in scope, then email me at and I'll try to get it dealt with).


The as-released draft spec (note: no longer current draft) is hard to read (but hopefully hard to get wrong in the implementation stage). It tries to be unambiguous, not nice. If you have the draft, the best way to understand what is happening is to find the diagram showing the table relationships. Stare at that for a while, and it might start to make some more sense. Then look at some sample data (note: may not be current to the latest spec).


The reference implementation (at this stage) is SpatiaLite 4 and SQLite 3. You can implement it without SpatiaLite too, but it would be some work. I've put some tools up at GeoPackage Tools. Its also supported in the latest GeoPaparazzi. Luciad has a demo viewer (free, but not open source)

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