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geospatial - PHP Geospatial Extension

PHP Extension to handle common geospatial functions. The extension currently has implementations of the Haversine and Vincenty's formulas for calculating distances, an initial bearing calculation function, a Helmert transformation function to transfer between different supported datums, conversions between polar and Cartesian coordinates, conversions between Degree/Minute/Seconds and decimal degrees, a method to simplify linear geometries, as well as a method to calculate intermediate points on a LineString.


git clone
cd geospatial
./configure --enable-geospatial
sudo make install

Then add the extension to an ini file e.g. /etc/php.ini:

extension =


The extension makes use of the GeoJSON standard format for specifying points as co-ordinates. One important thing to note about this format is that points are specified longitude first i.e. longitude, latitude.


$greenwichObservatory = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array( -0.001483 , 51.477917);


$from = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array( -104.88544, 39.06546 )
$to = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array( -104.80, 39.06546 )
var_dump(haversine($to, $from));

Vincenty's Formula

Vincenty's formula attempts to provide a more accurate distance between two points than the Haversine formula. Whereas the Haversine formula assumes a spherical earth the Vincenty method models the earth as an ellipsoid:

$flinders = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array(144.42486788889, -37.951033416667 )
$buninyong = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array(143.92649552778, -37.652821138889 )
var_dump(vincenty($flinders, $buninyong));

Helmert Transformation

The Helmert transformation allows for the transformation of points between different datums. It can for instance be used to convert between the WGS84 ellipsoid (GEO_WGS84) used by GPS systems and OSGB36 (GEO_AIRY_1830) used by Ordnance Survey in the UK:

$greenwichObservatory = array(
    'type' => 'Point',
    'coordinates' => array(-0.0014833333333333 , 51.477916666667)

$greenwichObservatoryWGS84 = transform_datum($greenwichObservatory, GEO_WGS84, GEO_AIRY_1830);


Calculating Initial Bearing

The initial_bearing function calculates the initial bearing to go from the first to the second point, as expressed in a GeoJSON wrapper:

$from = array(
        'type' => 'Point',
        'coordinates' => array( 2.351, 48.857 )
$to = array(
        'type' => 'Point',
        'coordinates' => array( 0.119, 52.205 )
var_dump(initial_bearing($from, $to));

The range of the resulting heading is 0° to +360°.

Converting between polar and Cartesian Coordinates

These two functions calculate between Polar and Cartesian Coordinates, with results depending on which ellipsoid you use.

From Polar to Cartesian:

$lat = 53.38361111111;
$long = 1.4669444444;

var_dump(polar_to_cartesian($lat, $long, GEO_AIRY_1830));

And back:

$x = 3810891.6734396;
$y = 97591.624686311;
$z = 5095766.3939034;

$polar = cartesian_to_polar($x, $y, $z, GEO_AIRY_1830);
echo round($polar['lat'], 6), PHP_EOL;
echo round($polar['long'], 6), PHP_EOL;
echo round($polar['height'], 3), PHP_EOL;

Converting between Degree/Min/Sec and Decimal coordinates

From decimal to dms. The second argument is either "longitude" or "latitude":

$dms = decimal_to_dms(-1.034291666667, 'longitude');

Which outputs:

array(4) {
  ["degrees"]=> int(1)
  ["minutes"]=> int(2)
  ["seconds"]=> float(3.4500000011994)
  ["direction"]=> string(1) "W"

And back from DMS to decimal, where the fourth argument is either "N", "S", "E", or "W":

$decimal = dms_to_decimal(0, 6, 9, 'S');

Which outputs:


Simplifying LineStrings

The rdp_simplify method implements RDP to simplify a LineString according to a certain accuracy (epsilon). As first argument it takes a GeoJSON LineString (in PHP variable format), and it outputs a similar structure but then simplified

Interpolation along a Greater Circle Line

The fraction_along_gc_line function can be used to calculate intermediate points along a Greater Circle Line. For example if you need to draw lines with more accuracy with for example Leaflet. The function takes the start and end coordinates (as GeoJson Point), and calculates the intermediate point along those line. To calculate the point 25% from the start point to the end point, you would use:

$point1 = [ 'type' => 'Point', 'coordinates' => [  5, 10 ] ];
$point2 = [ 'type' => 'Point', 'coordinates' => [ 15, 10 ] ];

var_dump(fraction_along_gc_line($point1, $point2, 0.25));


The geohash_encode function can be used to convert GeoJSON Point to a geohash of a specific length (in this case, 12):

$point = [ 'type' => 'Point', 'coordinates' => [ 16.4, 48.2 ] ];
echo geohash_encode( $point, 12 );

Which outputs:


Similarly, a hashed coordinates pair can be decoded using geohash_decode function:

array(2) {
  string(5) "Point"
  array(2) {


PHP Extension to handle common geospatial functions.







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