I am using GDAL to convert a .tif to .shp file.

gdal_polygonize.py input.tif -f “ESRI Shapefile” out.shp

However this does not work and results in:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/bin/gdal_polygonize.py", line 166, in <module>
    drv = ogr.GetDriverByName(format)
  File "/Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Versions/1.11/Python/2.7/site-packages/osgeo/ogr.py", line 5255, in GetDriverByName
    return _ogr.GetDriverByName(*args)
TypeError: in method 'GetDriverByName', argument 1 of type 'char const *

I don't believe there is anything wrong with the .tif file or the command

  • 3
    Are you still having this problem? I ask this because you asked this question a few minutes later which suggests that you got the gdal_polygonize.py tool working :)
    – Joseph
    May 12, 2016 at 13:21
  • 3
    I wondered if someone would notice! Two different computers ;) I can't get it functioning on a more powerful computer. May 12, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    Are you using the same python version on both computers? Does the Python version match the version that GDAL was compiled/packaged for? May 12, 2016 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


If this is Python 3, I have just come across this problem, and it seems to be that gdal cannot handle unicode strings as input arguments.

It's a bit messy, but try

drv = ogr.GetDriverByName(str(format))

I am currently looking for a better solution.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.