I am iterating through a list of shapefiles and extracting subsets of each shapefile to save as a KML using ogr2ogr. How can I extract the subset based on multiple conditions while using string formatter to define the in/out files and conditions? I am following the answer from Selecting features by attributes using ogr2ogr? in my attempt.

Using Python 3.7

This example with only one condition works without issue:

import os
import numpy as np
import pathlib

## example dummy ids
id1 = np.linspace(start=1, stop=5, num=5, endpoint=True, dtype=int)
id2 = np.linspace(start=301, stop=302, num=2, endpoint=True, dtype=int)

outpath = pathlib.Path("working").resolve()
for ii in id1:
    command = (
        ' ogr2ogr -f "KML" "{outfile}" "{infile}" '
        ' -where "ID_1 = {my_id}" '
        ' -dsco NameField = "{name}" '
    fout = 'test' + str(ii) + '.kml'
    fout = outpath / fout
    os.system(command.format(outfile=fout, infile='points.shp', my_id=ii, name='county'))

This example with multiple conditions using a SQL query returns an error:

for ii in id1:
    for jj in id2:
            command = (
                ' ogr2ogr -f "KML" "{outfile}" "{infile}" '
                ' -sql "SELECT * from {infile2} WHERE ID_1 = {my_id} AND ID_2 = {other_id}" '
                ' -dsco NameField = "{name}" '
            fout = 'test' + str(ii) + '_' + str(jj) + '.kml'
            fout = outpath / fout

print statement returns:

ogr2ogr -f "KML" "{outfile}" "{infile}"  -sql "SELECT * from {infile2} WHERE ID_1 = {my_id} AND ID_2 = {other_id}"  -dsco NameField = "{name}" 

And the error:

Warning 1: layer names ignored in combination with -sql.
ERROR 1: SQL Expression Parsing Error: syntax error, unexpected $undefined, expecting string or identifier. Occurred around :
SELECT * from points WHERE ID_1
  • Suggest you try gdal.VectorTranslate (pretty much identical to ogr2ogr) rather than an external process, but if you really want to use an external process, don't use os.system, use subprocess.* e.g subprocess.run() which handles all the commandline argument formatting for you, you just pass in a list of arguments.
    – user2856
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 0:39
  • @user2856 I also tried subprocess.run(command.format(outfile=fout, infile='points.shp', my_id=ii, name='county'), shell=True) for my first example (that worked fine with os) and received Warning 6: creation option 'NameField' is not formatted with the key=value format ERROR 1: Couldn't fetch requested layer '='! and it just creates an empty KML
    – a11
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 1:16
  • @user2856 I tried gdal.VectorTranslate but ran into some errors; I thought it was worthwhile as its own question
    – a11
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 1:49
  • Deleted my answer and copied to your other question :) With subprocess.run, you pass a list of arguemnts not a command string.
    – user2856
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


Here's how to use subprocess.run:

import subprocess
import numpy as np
import pathlib

## example dummy ids
id1 = np.linspace(start=1, stop=1, num=1, endpoint=True, dtype=int)
id2 = np.linspace(start=1, stop=1, num=1, endpoint=True, dtype=int)

infile = '/tmp/points.shp'
inlayer = pathlib.Path(infile).stem
outpath = pathlib.Path("/tmp").resolve()
name_field = 'county'

for ii in id1:
    for jj in id2:
        fout = str(outpath / f'test{ii}_{jj}.kml')

        result = subprocess.run(
                "-f", "KML",
                "-where", f'ID_1 = {ii} AND ID_2 = {jj}',
                '-dsco', f'NameField={name_field}',
                fout, infile, inlayer

        print(result.stdout, result.stderr)


  • I've changed your -sql argument clause to a simpler -where argument
  • I used f'string {variable}' aka "f strings" for a cleaner syntax
  • You pass subprocess.run a list of arguments, not a full command string and let it handle generating the correct (properly quoted etc) command
  • thanks, this is a really nice and clean explanation-- and it looks like it shuld work, but I receive TypeError: argument of type 'WindowsPath' is not iterable. The error pops on check=True; then if I remove that line, error is on capture_output=True; and so on, removing various parts of the string. It looks like this might be a bug, where you able to run it successfully with Path?
    – a11
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 17:53
  • That code works me as-is and if I use pathlib.Paths, but I'm using Linux, so as you're using Windows make sure you convert pathlib Paths to strings when passing to subprocess.
    – user2856
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 20:01

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