Sample code to implement new OGC WKT specification
C++ Makefile
Latest commit f58661e May 8, 2015 @RJuergens RJuergens latest doc



This package contains sample code for a library that implements the OGC WKT specification titled "Geographic information - Well-known text representation of coordinate reference systems" (referred to as the WKT-SPEC). This specification is for defining a Well-Known-Text (WKT) syntax for describing coordinate reference systems as defined in the following standards:

ISO 19111:2007    "Geographic information -- Spatial referencing by coordinates"
ISO 19111-2:2009  "Geographic information -- Spatial referencing by coordinates --
                   Part 2: Extension for parametric values".

This package also contains some sample programs that use this library.

This package is not an official offering from the OGC, but is provided by Esri as a proof-of-concept implementation of the WKT-SPEC, with the intent of testing the proposed specification and highlighting potential issues with the WKT-SPEC.

Included in this package is the document ogc_wkt_crs.pdf, which been submitted by ISO TC211 for publication as an International Standard document. The version incorporates comments made during both the OGC Public Comment Period as well as the ISO ballot for DIS (ISO TC211 document N3750).


This package consists of a library and sample programs using the library. Only source code is provided. A user will have to build the package if he wants to try using it. To aid in building this package, we have included GNU makefiles as well as solution/project files for Visual Studio versions 2008, 2012, and 2013.

This code is provided to the committee charged with developing and approving the WKT-SPEC with the intent that they can study it to determine the usability of the WKT spec.


This code is provided to help evaluate the specification, and is not intended to be used in any production environment at this time. This library provides the following functions only:

  • Convert WKT strings to internal objects.
  • Convert internal objects to WKT strings.
  • Create and destroy internal objects.
  • Clone internal objects.
  • Determine whether two internal objects are identical or are computationally equivalent.

There is no attempt here to provide any code to actually use these objects.


Although this code closely follows the WKT-SPEC, there are areas where this implementation deviates from or exceeds the spec. The following is a list of these areas. This list may not be complete.

  1. This implementation only handles WKT strings that are ASCII (single-byte character) strings. The WKT-SPEC does not specify any encoding of WKT strings. This implementation assumes that any encoding other than simple ASCII encoding is processed into ASCII prior to the calling of these routines.

    Conversion routines are provided to convert to and from Unicode strings, with any non-ASCII Unicode characters being UTF8 encoded or decoded.

  2. The WKT-SPEC mandates that only the REMARK attribute may contain non-ASCII characters, but this implementation does nothing to check that any other string part contains strictly ASCII characters.

  3. The WKT-SPEC does not address any error reporting of incorrect WKT strings nor any action that should be taken. This code attempts to stringently assure that any violation of the WKT-SPEC is caught and reported. It is possible for multiple error messages to be issued for a single WKT string.

    The ability is provided to choose between extremely strict parsing of strings or relaxing some of the rules.

    If strict parsing is relaxed, the following happens:

      1. Missing trailing ] characters is allowed.
      2. Token parsing stops at the matching ] character to the opening
         [ character. (ie. any characters after the closing ]
         character are ignored.)
      3. Extra atomic (ie. non sub-object) tokens in an object are ignored.
  4. The WKT-SPEC specifies an order for all sub-objects in a WKT string. This implementation follows that order when outputting sub-objects into a WKT string, but allows them to appear in any order when reading WKT strings.

    This is done regardless of whether strict-parsing is enabled or not.

  5. Object names are allowed to be empty, except for the following objects:


    Most importantly, a CONVERSION object is allowed to have an empty name, as without that rule an old-style WKT cannot be converted into a new-style WKT without additional input. However, currently when processing an old-style PROJCS WKT string the PROJECTION name is copied into the CONVERSION name.

  6. Underscores are allowed in keywords, but they are ignored.

  7. The spec mandates that AXIS sub-objects must all have an ORDER sub-object or none of them may have an ORDER sub-object. This implementation relaxes that restriction.

  8. The ability to output objects in the old (19125) syntax is provided, although no checks are done to insure that the created WKT will be usable to create an equivalent object.

Sample programs

Three sample programs are provided:

parse     This program tests the token parsing of WKT strings.

          Usage: parse [options] [filename]
            -?, -help     Display usage
            -V, -version  Display version
            -v            Verbose
            filename      File of WKT strings to read (default is stdin)

datetime  This program tests the parsing of date-time strings.

          Usage: datetime [options] [filename]
            -?, -help     Display usage
            -V, -version  Display version
            -v            Verbose
            -n ndig       Specify number of digits in seconds
            filename      File of date-time strings to read (default is stdin)

wkt       This program will read and write WKT strings.

          Usage: wkt [options] [filename]
            -?, -help     Display usage
            -V, -version  Display version
            -m            Process multi-line input
            -n            Show name only
            -o            Display in old syntax
            -i            Don't show any ID attributes
            -t            Show top-level ID attribute only
            -p            Show () instead of [] in strings
            -x            Expand with spaces
            -X            Expand with tabs
            -r            Relax strict parsing
            -s            Set   strict parsing (default)
            filename      File of WKT strings to read (default is stdin)

To do

The following is a list of things still to do to fully flesh out this sample API:

  • The method ogc_utils::validate_cs() needs to be expanded to catch more errors with CS, AXIS, and UNIT attributes.

  • The ogc_vector::is_equal() and ogc_vector::is_identical() methods could be expanded to take into account the vectors having the same objects but in a different order.


Find a bug or want to request a new feature? Please let us know by submitting an issue.

Comments and issues logged through this Github project will be available to the ISO and OGC Standards Working Group. However, this Github project is not an official repository of public comment for the standard - you may want to submit comments through the formal ISO and OGC channels to ensure that they are logged and responded to.


Anyone and everyone is welcome to contribute.


Copyright 2010-2015 Esri

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License here. It is also available in the repository's license.txt file.

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.