I have some GML data that has some unneeded columns in it. I'd like to remove these columns in order to reduce the file size. (To clarify: I mean that the file has many points in it, and each of these points has some metadata attached, and I don't need all of the metadata.)

I'd also like to do this from the command line, as I have many files.

I can convert the GML files into different formats using ogr2ogr, so my question is this: what's the easiest way to remove a column from a geographic data file, from the command line?

I'm a Python programmer so my instinct would be to convert the file to GeoJSON, then use Python's JSON-parsing methods to read and rewrite the JSON file.

But perhaps there's a more direct way, using a GDAL tool or similar.

2 Answers 2


Shapefile as a temporary file format is not necessary and it may also alter the GML data (shorten attribute names, cut strings to max 255 characters, change DATETIME to DATE etc.)

I would use ogr2ogr not by dropping unwanted attributes but by selecting those which are wanted. The SQLite SQL dialect is more standard than the defauld OGR dialect, that's why I use that even it is not necessary for this query.

ogr2ogr -f GML -dialect SQLite -sql "SELECT attr1, attr2, attr3,... FROM layer" output.gml input.gml
  • 1
    good idea, but what if there are 1000 columns/fields. You'd have to explicitly write out all column names using your method.
    – Theo F
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 21:01

You can delete a field using OGR SQL and choosing an OGR format which supports the field deletion. Unfortunately GML doesn't support it, so you have to pass through another format, e.g. SHP:

ogr2ogr temp.shp input.gml
ogrinfo temp.shp -sql "ALTER TABLE temp DROP COLUMN field_to_drop"
ogr2ogr -f GML output.gml temp.shp
  • 6
    I was able to do a simpler, similar thing with GeoJSON driver; ogrinfo input.geojson -sql "ALTER TABLE input DROP COLUMN field_to_drop" Note the use of the file name as table to ALTER.
    – vpipkt
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 18:02
  • 2
    @vpipkt so concise, and works well Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 20:15

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