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OGR Output

Author:Frank Warmerdam
Contact:warmerdam at
Last Updated:2011-11-15


OGR output support was added to MapServer 6.0. It provides an output driver to produce feature style output suitable as a return result from WMS GetFeatureInfo or WFS GetFeature requests. OGR feature output depends on MapServer being built against the GDAL/OGR library. The OGR output driver should be enabled in MapServer 6.0 or newer when INPUT=OGR appears in the version string.


Details of OGR output formats allowed are controlled by an OUTPUTFORMAT declaration. The declarations define the OGR format driver to be used, creation options specific to that driver, and more general instructions to MapServer on how to package multi-file results and whether to try and build the result on disk or in memory.


  MIMETYPE "text/csv"


  DRIVER "OGR/ESRI Shapefile"

The OGR format driver to be used is determined by the name appearing after “OGR/” in the DRIVER argument. This name should match one of the formats listed as supported for the “-f” argument to ogr2ogr in the ogr2ogr usage message.

The IMAGEMODE for OGR output is FEATURE, but this is implicit and does not need to be explicitly stated for OGR output driver declarations.

The OGR renderer will support the following FORMATOPTION declarations:

Anything prefixed by DSCO: is used as a dataset creation option with the OGR driver. See the OGR web page for the particular format driver to see layer creation options available.
Anything prefixed by LCO: is used as a layer creation option. See the OGR web page for the particular format driver to see layer creation options available.w
Indicates whether the result should be a simple single file (single), a mime multipart attachment (multipart) or a zip file (zip). “zip” is the default.

Indicates where the datasource should be stored while being written. “file” is the default.

If “memory” then it will be created in /vsimem/ - but this is only suitable for drivers supporting VSI*L which we can’t easily determine automatically.

If “filesystem”, then a directory for temporary files (specified using WEB TEMPPATH or MS_TEMPPATH) will be used for writing and reading back the file(s) to stream to the client.

If “stream” then the datasource will be created with a name “/vsistdout” as an attempt to write directly to stdout. Only a few OGR drivers will work properly in this mode (ie. CSV, perhaps kml, gml).

Provides a name for the datasource created, default is “result.dat”.

LAYER Metadata

The OGR output driver utilizes several items from the LAYER level METADATA object. Some of these were originally intended for GML output or are primarily intended to support WFS.


(Optional) A comma delimited list of formats supported for WFS GetFeature responses. The OUTPUTFORMAT NAME values should be listed.

"wfs_getfeature_formatlist" "OGRGML,SHAPEZIP,CSV"

(Optional) A comma delimited list of items to include, or keyword “all”. You can enable full exposure by using the keyword “all”.

"gml_include_items" "all"

You can specify a list of attributes (fields) for partial exposure, such as:

"gml_include_items" "Name,ID"

The new default behaviour is to expose no attributes at all.

gml_[item name]_alias

(Optional) An alias for an attribute’s name. The resulting file will refer to this attribute by the alias. Here is an example:

"gml_province_alias" "prov"
gml_[item name]_type
(Optional) Specifies the type of the attribute. Valid values are Integer|Real|Character|Date|Boolean.
gml_[item name]_width
(Optional) Specifies the width of the indicated field for formats where this is significant, such as Shapefiles.
gml_[item name]_precision
(Optional) Specifies the precision of the indicated field for formats where this is significant, such as Shapefiles. Precision is the number of decimal places, and is only needed for “Real” fields.

(Optional) If this field is “auto” then some input feature drivers (ie. OGR, and native shapefiles) will automatically populate the type, width and precision metadata for the layer based on the source file.

"gml_types"   "auto"

(Optional) Set the geometry type of OGR layers created from this MapServer LAYER. One of “Point”, “LineString”, “Polygon”, “MultiPoint”, “MultiLineString”, “MultiPolygon”, “GeometryCollection”, “Geometry”, or “None”. Most are fairly obvious, but “Geometry” can be used to represent a mix of geometry types, and “None” is sometimes suitable for layers without geometry. Note that layers which are a mix of polygon and multipolygon would normally have to be described as “Geometry”. To produce 2.5D output append “25D” to the geometry type (ie. “Polygon25D”). Note that Z values are only carried by MapServer if built with USE_POINT_Z_M support.

"ows_geomtype"  "Polygon"

MAP / WEB Metadata


In order for WMS GetFeatureInfo to allow selection of OGR output formats, the mime type associated with the OUTPUTFORMAT must be listed in this metadata item.

"wms_feature_info_mime_type" "text/csv"

Geometry Types Supported

In MapServer we have POINT, LINE and POLYGON layers which also allow for features with multiple points, lines or polygons. However, in the OGC Simple Feature geometry model used by OGR a point and multipoint layer are quite distinct. Likewise for a LineString and MultiLineString and Polygon an MultiPolygon layer type.

To work around the mismatches between the MapServer and OGR geometry models, there is a mechanism to specify the geometry type to be used when exporting through OGR. This is the “wfs/ows_geomtype” metadata item on the layer. It may be one of one of “Point”, “LineString”, “Polygon”, “MultiPoint”, “MultiLineString”, “MultiPolygon”, “GeometryCollection”, “Geometry”, or “None”.

If this item is not specified, then “Point”, “LineString” or “Polygon” will be used depending on the TYPE of the LAYER. In cases of mixed geometry types (ie. polygons and multipolygons) the geometry type should be set to “Geometry” which means any geometry type.

"ows_geomtype" "Geometry"

Attribute Field Definitions

For OGR output it is highly desirable to be able to create the output fields with the appropriate datatype, width and precision to reflect the source feature definition.

It is possible to set the gml_[item]_type, gml_[item]_width and gml_[item]_precision metadata on the layer to provide detailed field definitions:

  "gml_ID_type"        "Integer"
  "gml_ID_width"       "8"
  "gml_AREA_type"      "Real"
  "gml_AREA_width"     "15"
  "gml_AREA_precision" "6"
  "gml_NAME_type"      "Character"
  "gml_NAME_width"     "64"

However, doing this manually is tedious and error prone. For that reason some feature sources (at least OGR, Shapefiles, POSTGIS and ORACLESPATIAL) support a mechanism to automatically populate this information from the source datastore. To accomplish this specify:

"gml_types"            "auto"

If no effort is made to set type, width and precision information for attribute fields, they will all be treated as variable length character fields when writing through OGR.

Return Packaging

One of the challenges returning generalized feature formats is that many such formats consists of multiple files which must be returned in the result. There are three approaches taken to this based on the FORM FORMATOPTION in the OUTPUTFORMAT declaration.

In this case a single result is returned. This is suitable for format drivers that produce a single file. The return result will have the mimetype listed in the OUTPUTFORMAT declaration. Note that if the OGR driver actually returns multiple files, only the primary one (the one with a name matching the filename passed into the OGR CreateDataSource call) will be returned. The return result will have a suggested filename based on the FILENAME FORMATOPTION.
In this case all the files produced are returned as a multipart mime result. In this case the MIMETYPE of the OUTPUTFORMAT is ignored. All component files are returned with a mime type of “application/binary” and the whole package is “multipart/mixed”.
In this case all the files produced are bundled into one .zip file and this zip file is returned with a mimetype of “application/zip”. The OUTPUTFORMAT MIMETYPE is ignored.

One caveat with “zip” results is that this option is only available if the GDAL/OGR version is 1.8 or newer (or a 1.8 development later than approximately Oct 15, 2010). Earlier versions of GDAL/OGR lacked the zipping capability needed.

Test Suite Example

The MSAutoTest test suite contains a test case for use of OGR Output from WFS. The mapfile is at:

The comments at the start of the file have a variety of sample requests that can be run against the map, as long as [MAPFILE] is replaced with the mapfile name. They requests should be run against mapserv sitting in the msautotest/wxs directory.