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A GDAL driver for SciDB arrays


This GDAL driver implements read and write access to SciDB arrays. SciDB is an open-source data management and analytics system developed by Paradigm4.

To interface SciDB with most earth-observation products the driver supports representing multi-tiled and multi-temporal imagery as single multidimensional arrays. Single images can be added to an existing array as tile or temporal slice where array indexes are automatically computed. For advanced functionality like this, SciDB instances need to run the extension for geographic reference scidb4geo.

A reproducible example where this GDAL driver is used from R to ingest and download MODIS and SRTM data can be found in a recent blog-post Scalable Earth Observation analytics with R and SciDB.


  • (2017-03-16)
    • Support for SciDB 16.9
  • (2016-06-02)
    • Support for SciDB 15.12
    • Improved performance of array upload
    • Automatic build now uses GDAL 2.1.0
  • (2016-02-26)
    • Chunk sizes can be provided as create option

Getting Started

Similar to other database drivers for GDAL, we define a connection string to reference SciDB arrays. The connection string must contain an array name and may have further arguments like connection details of the database. With release of GDAL version 2.0, we added opening and create options to specify database connection details. Examples below demonstrate how a SciDB array can be referenced using gdalinfo.

  • identifier based: gdalinfo "SCIDB:array=<arrayname> [host=<host> port=<port> user=<user> password=<password>]"

  • opening option based: gdalinfo -oo "host=<host>" -oo "port=<port>" -oo "user=<user>" -oo "password=<password> -oo "ssl=true" "SCIDB:array=<arrayname>"

Connection details may alternatively be set as environment variables SCIDB4GDAL_HOST, SCIDB4GDAL_PORT, SCIDB4GDAL_USER, SCIDB4GDAL_PASSWD, or as a text file in $HOME/.scidbpass.

Simple array download

The following examples demonstrate how to download a simple two-dimensional arrays using gdal_translate. We assume that database connection details are set es environment variables.

  1. Download the whole array gdal_translate "SCIDB:array=hello_scidb" "hello_scidb.tif"

  2. Download a subset based on array coordinates gdal_translate -srcwin 0 0 100 100 "SCIDB:array=hello_scidb" "hello_scidb_subset.tif"

  3. Download a spatial subset based on spatial coordinates (assuming WGS84) and only the first array attribute (band 1) gdal_translate -proj_win 7.1 52.2 7.6 51.9 -b 1 "SCIDB:array=hello_scidb" "hello_scidb_subset.tif"

Simple two-dimensional array upload

The following examples demonstrate how to upload single images to simple two-dimensional arrays using the gdal_translate utility.

  1. Upload the whole array gdal_translate -of SciDB "hello_scidb.tif" "SCIDB:array=hello_scidb"


  • The driver requires Shim to run on SciDB databases you want to connect to.
  • cURL to communicate with SciDB's HTTP web service shim
  • Some Boost header-only libraries (no external libraries required for linking) for string functions

Build Instructions

The following instructions show you how to compile GDAL with added SciDB driver on Unix environments. These steps are automated in a script in build/

  1. Download GDAL source
  2. Clone this repository git clone
  3. Copy the source to GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/scidb by cp scidb4gdal/src GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/scidb
  4. Add driver to GDAL source tree (see
    1. Add GDALRegister_SciDB()to GDAL_SRC_DIR/gcore/gdal_frmts.h
    2. Add call to GDALRegister_SciDB() in GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/gdalallregister.cpp within #ifdef FRMT_scidb
    3. Add "scidb" to GDAL_FORMATS in GDAL_SRC_DIR/
  5. Build GDAL ./configure && make && sudo make install.
  6. Eventually, you might need to run sudo ldconfig to make GDAL's shared library available.

If you get some missing include file errors, you need to install Boost manually. Either use your distribution's package manager e.g. sudo apt-get install libboost-dev or simply copy Boost header files to a standard include directory like /usr/include.

Build on Windows (not tested)

The following instructions demonstrate how to compile GDAL with added SciDB driver on Windows using Visual Studio 2013.
Detailed information for tweaking windows builds can be found at We recommend the OSGeo4W network installer for managing and installing external GIS libraries on Windows. In particular this allows you to easily install curl and boost development libraries that are needed to compile this driver.

  1. Download GDAL source
  2. Clone this repository
  3. Copy the src directory of your clone to GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts and rename it scidb
  4. Add driver to GDAL source tree (see
    1. Add GDALRegister_SciDB()to GDAL_SRC_DIR/gcore/gdal_frmts.h
    2. Add call to GDALRegister_SciDB() in GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/gdalallregister.cpp within #ifdef FRMT_scidb
    3. Open GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/ and add -DFRMT_scidb within the !IFDEF CURL_LIB block
  5. Setup external include and library paths
    1. Uncomment lines to set CURL_INC and CURL_LIB in GDAL_SRC_DIR/nmake.opt
    2. Edit link to Boost header directory in GDAL_SRC_DIR/frmts/scidb/
  6. Start a command line
    1. Change directory to the GDAL source cd GDAL_SRC_DIR
    2. Load Visual studio command line tools e.g. by running "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\VC\bin\x86_amd64\vcvarsx86_amd64.bat" for x64 builds using Visual Studio 2013
    3. Run nmake e.g. nmake /f MSVC_VER=1800 WIN64=YES


A GDAL driver for SciDB arrays







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