If we want to get information about a vector layer (shapefile for example) we could use ogrinfo:

ogrinfo -so myshapefile.shp mylayer

This returns a lot of pertinent information about the shapefile. Is it possible to return whether or not a spatial index exists? If so, can we access info about the spatial index?

Note: I realize it is trivial to open the folder containing the shapefile and looking for a .sbn or .sbx and so the question is specific to ogrinfo.

  • I have the same question, with the emphasis on GeoPackage. Feb 20, 2019 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


With GDAL 2.2.0, one of the changes to the GPKG driver is:

  • add HasSpatialIndex(tblname,geomcolname) SQL function

For example:

ogrinfo -sql "SELECT HasSpatialIndex('some_layer', 'geom')" some-file.gpkg


INFO: Open of `some-file.gpkg'
      using driver `GPKG' successful.

Layer name: SELECT
Geometry: Unknown (any)
Feature Count: 1
Layer SRS WKT:
HasSpatialIndex: Integer (0.0)
  HasSpatialIndex (Integer) = 1

Or better, select from gpkg_geometry_columns to show info for all geometry columns in the file:

ogrinfo -sql "SELECT table_name, column_name, HasSpatialIndex(table_name, column_name) FROM gpkg_geometry_columns" some-file.gpkg

As an answer to the comment by @Richard Law, the name of the virtual rtree table that contains the spatial index in GeoPackage is always named according to template rtree_[table_name]_[geometry_column_name]

Therefore you can make a SQL query that checks the existence of the rtree table.

For example you can check if table "table1" has a spatial index with ogrinfo

ogrinfo -sql "SELECT EXISTS(SELECT 1 FROM sqlite_master WHERE tbl_name like 'rtree_table1_%') as has_spatial_index" mygeopackage.gpkg

INFO: Open of `mygeopackage.gpkg'
      using driver `GPKG' successful.

Layer name: SELECT
Geometry: None
Feature Count: 1
Layer SRS WKT:
has_spatial_index: Integer (0.0)
  has_spatial_index (Integer) = 1

In this case the spatial indes does exist. Otherwise the would have been "0".

In GeoPackage a table can have only one geometry field and therefore it is enough to make a check by just "rtree" and name of the table without knowing the name of the geometry field as rtree_table1_%.

  • Good answer. I'm just disappointed that there is no abstraction for this across different vector formats. Feb 21, 2019 at 20:33
  • By looking at the list of supported OGR formats gdal.org/ogr_formats.html quite few formats support spatial index at all. Most database formats support spatial indexes transparently and it is rather hard to find for example from Oracle if table has a spatial index or not.I guess that such abstaction will not land into GDAL soon.
    – user30184
    Feb 21, 2019 at 20:52

Ogr does not use the ESRI spatial Index files .sbn, sbx. It creates a .qix file which may contain a spatial index and/or an attribute index. You can build the .qix via ogrinfo.
Ogr shapefile driver

I also found a GDAL ticket mentioning .sbn file is now readable. Not sure what this means.
ticket #4719

  • 2
    "Starting with OGR 1.10, [the ESRI Shapefile driver] can also use the ESRI spatial index files (.sbn / .sbx)" gdal.org/ogr/drv_shapefile.html
    – Mike T
    Mar 6, 2013 at 22:32
  • @MikeToews Looks like I had better upgrade. Thanks!
    – Jay Laura
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:06
  • @JayLaura 1.10 is not released yet, but I'm certain the developers would love to have it tested
    – Mike T
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:31
  • 1
    GDAL/OGR 1.10.0 came out last week: trac.osgeo.org/gdal/wiki/Release/1.10.0-News
    – user10353
    May 6, 2013 at 21:28

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