I have a csv with "lat,lon" in a single column. I am trying to convert it with ogr2ogr to another format, and cannot figure out how to format the VRT file to accept this format.

I cannot do anything other than change the VRT at the moment due to other limitations. I would love to rewrite the csv, but this is the format that I have to deal with for now.

example for formating:

name, date, value, latlon
a, 20130101, 0, "100.8\,40.2"
b, 20130101, 1, "101.2\,40.4"
c, 20130102, 1, "100.2\,41.2"
d, 20130103, 2, "102.0\,40.7"
e, 20130104, 3, "100.6\,41.0"

The data is not a set number of characters, so splitting at a character number does not work right.

a, 20130101, 0, "10.844\,-40.2745"
b, 20130101, 1, "101.2010\,40.411111"
c, 20130102, 1, "-100.27867\,1.24522"
d, 20130103, 2, "-1.04577\,16.745637"
e, 20130104, 3, "100.617417\,-1.0757"

Accepted answer actually does not require the intermediate CSV, it can be done straight from original CSV. The INSTR is what I managed to get to work.

    <OGRVRTLayer name="result">
        <SrcSQL dialect="sqlite">SELECT name, date, value, SUBSTR(latlon,2,INSTR(latlon,"\,")-1) AS lat, SUBSTR(latlon,INSTR(latlon,"\,")+2,-1) AS lon FROM test2</SrcSQL>

1 Answer 1


You can solve with two chained VRT files and a bit of OGR SQL. The first VRT (e.g. remapped_csv.vrt) is:

    <OGRVRTLayer name="remapped_csv">
        <SrcSQL>SELECT *, SUBSTR(latlon,2,5) AS lat, SUBSTR(latlon,9,12) AS lon FROM test</SrcSQL>

The second VRT (e.g. result.vrt) is:

    <OGRVRTLayer name="result">
        <GeometryField encoding="PointFromColumns" x="lon" y="lat"/>
        <SrcSQL>SELECT name, date, value, lat, lon FROM remapped_csv</SrcSQL>

Here's the final result:

>ogrinfo result.vrt result
INFO: Open of `result.vrt'
      using driver `VRT' successful.

Layer name: result
Geometry: Point
Feature Count: 5
Extent: (40.200000, 100.200000) - (41.200000, 102.000000)
Layer SRS WKT:
        SPHEROID["WGS 84",6378137,298.257223563,
name: String (0.0)
date: String (0.0)
value: String (0.0)
lat: String (0.0)
lon: String (0.0)
  name (String) = a
  date (String) =  20130101
  value (String) =  0
  lat (String) = 100.8
  lon (String) = 40.2
  POINT (40.2 100.8)

  name (String) = b
  date (String) =  20130101
  value (String) =  1
  lat (String) = 101.2
  lon (String) = 40.4
  POINT (40.4 101.2)

  name (String) = c
  date (String) =  20130102
  value (String) =  1
  lat (String) = 100.2
  lon (String) = 41.2
  POINT (41.2 100.2)

  name (String) = d
  date (String) =  20130103
  value (String) =  2
  lat (String) = 102.0
  lon (String) = 40.7
  POINT (40.7 102.0)

  name (String) = e
  date (String) =  20130104
  value (String) =  3
  lat (String) = 100.6
  lon (String) = 41.0
  POINT (41.0 100.6)

Improved version of remapped_csv.vrt using the dialect SQLite (SQLite >= 3.7.15, because the instr function was added to the SQLite core functions since this version):

    <OGRVRTLayer name="remapped_csv">
        <SrcSQL dialect="sqlite">SELECT *, SUBSTR(latlon,2,INSTR(latlon,"\,")-1) AS lat, SUBSTR(latlon,INSTR(latlon,"\,")+2,-1) AS lon FROM test2</SrcSQL>

Not tested (because I have GDAL built with SQLite 3.7.9 at the moment), but it should work.

This is a working version of remapped_csv.vrt using the trimming approach:

    <OGRVRTLayer name="remapped_csv">
        <SrcSQL dialect="sqlite">SELECT *, rtrim(rtrim(latlon,'"+-.0123456789'),'\,') AS lat, ltrim(ltrim(latlon,' "+-.0123456789'),'\,') AS lon FROM test2</SrcSQL>
  • Looks great, but what if I do not know the exact length of the lat/lon? So one goes to 3 decimal places and another goes to 5?
    – eseglem
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 20:51
  • Also there could be a negative or anywhere up to three digits before the decimal. "-1.12341234\,80.1234" vs "134.1186\,-6.89467"
    – eseglem
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 21:12
  • 1
    After your updates, it seems that the only way to solve your problem is to write a Python script with a robust regex management of latlon string. Consider also this question: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/77897/… Good luck! Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 21:32
  • 1
    And what happens if the string doesn't contain valid coordinates? ;) Although, I've just updated the answer considering your updates. It should work in theory, but I don't have the right configuration at the moment in order to test it. Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 9:54
  • 1
    I found another solution without using regex in the last update. Hope this helps. Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 11:01

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