I am new to PostGIS and and PostgreSQL as well. I have been experimenting PostGIS for about a week now and I have seen that almost all blog posts or tutorials require having a shapefile to start querying against.

I can see that PostGIS is really powerful but little overwhelming for me as a beginner since I haven't understand it that much yet.

The main reason I am using PostGIS is to find users within radius and distance calculation for each point found within that radius.

1 Answer 1


The main reason I am using postgis is to find users within radius and distance calculation for each point found within that radius.

You don't need a shapefile if you understand ST_MakePoint and you can work with test data...

CREATE TABLE points(geom)
  ( ST_MakePoint(0,0) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(1,1) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(1,0) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(0,1) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(2,2) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(5,5) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(10,10) ),
  ( ST_MakePoint(20,20) );

-- Shows the results as WKT (text)
SELECT ST_AsText(geom) FROM points;

-- Basic distance calculation between two points.
SELECT ST_Distance( ST_MakePoint(0,0), ST_MakePoint(2,2) );
(1 row)

-- Find all points within a distance
SELECT ST_AsText(geom)
FROM points
WHERE ST_DWithin( ST_MakePoint(0,0), geom, 2.82842712474619 );
 POINT(0 0)
 POINT(1 1)
 POINT(1 0)
 POINT(0 1)
(4 rows)
  • 3
    Exactly. Shape files have very little to do with Postgis, thankfully. We are free from the chronic restrictions (2gb dbf) and the inability to mix spatial types in a single shape file, not to mention the horrors of self-intersection and all the other things that ESRI allow/don't allow. So, I don't know what tutorials you have been reading, but, you sure as hell don't need shp files to start with Postgis -- in fact, I would say, it is a positive disadvantage. shp has become a standard, but it is not a very good one. GeoJSON is your friend :-) Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:03
  • 2
    So, to answer you question, as Evan has done, the minimum requirements to perform a nearest geometry query would be two geometries, though the answer would be kind of obvious and boring. Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:04

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