jeudi 31 janvier 2019

SRS barn raising: 8th report. Ready for your testing !

This is the 8th progress report of the GDAL SRS barn effort.

As the title implies, a decisive milestone has now been reached, with the "gdalbarn" branches of libgeotiff and GDAL having been now merged in their respective master branch.

On the PROJ side, a number of fixes and enhancements have been done:
- missing documentation for a few functions, the evolution of cs2cs and the new projinfo utility has been added
- the parser of the WKT CONCATENATEDOPERATION construct can now understand step presented in a reverse order
- a few iterations to update the syntax parsing rules of WKT2:2018 following the latest adjustments done by the OGC WKT Standard Working Group
- in my previous work, I had introduced a "PROJ 5" to export CRS using pipeline/unitconvert/axisswap as an attempt of improving the PROJ.4 format used by GDAL and other products. However after discussion with other PROJ developers, we realize that it is likely a dead-end since it is still lossy in many aspects and can cause confusion with coodinate operations. Consequently the PROJ_5 convention will be identical to PROJ_4 for CRS export. And the use of PROJ strings to express CRS themselves is discouraged. It can still makes sense if using the "early-binding" approach and specifying towgs84/nadgrids/geoidgrids parameters. But in a late-binding approach, WKT is much more powerful to capture important information like geodetic datum names.
- when examining how the new code I added those past months with the existing PROJ codebase, it became clear that there was a confusion when importing PROJ strings expressing coordinate operations versus PROJ strings expressing a CRS. So for the later use case, a "+type=crs" must be added in the PROJ string. As a consequence the proj_create_from_proj_string() and proj_create_from_user_input() functions have been removed, and proj_create() can now been used for all types of PROJ strings.
- The PROJ_LIB environment variable now supports multiple paths, separated by colon on Unix and semi-colon on Windows

On the GDAL side,
  • the OGRCoordinateTransformation now uses the PROJ API to automatically compute the best transformation pipeline, enabling late-binding capabilities. In the case where the user does not provide an explicit area of use and several coordinate operations are possible, the Transform() method can automatically switches between coordinate operations given the input coordinate values. This should offer behaviour similar to previous versions  for example for NAD27 to NAD83 conversion when PROJ had a +nadgrids=@conus,@alaska,@ntv2_0.gsb,@ntv1_can.dat hardcoded rule. This dymanic selection logic has also been moved to PROJ proj_create_crs_to_crs() function. Note that however this might not always lead to the desired results, so specifying a precise area of interest, or even a specific coordinate operation, is preferred when full control is needed.
  • gdalinfo, ogrinfo and gdalsrsinfo now outputs WKT2:2018 by default (can be changed with a command line switch). On the API side, the exportToWKT() method will still export WKT1 by default (can of course be changed). The rationale is that WKT consumers might not be ready yet for WKT2, so this should limit the backward compatibility issues. In the future (couple of years timeframe), this default WKT version might be upgraded when more consumers are WKT2-ready.
  • A RFC 73: Integration of PROJ6 for WKT2, late binding capabilities, time-support and unified CRS database document was created to document all the GDAL changes. After discussion with the community, this RFC has been approved
  • As a result, all of the above mentionned work has now been merged in GDAL master
  • Important practical discussion: GDAL master now depends on PROJ master (and ultimately PROJ 6.0 once it is released)
Consequently, on the pure development front, most of the work has now been completed.  As all those changes done those last months deeply impact SRS related functionnality in GDAL and PROJ, we rely now on your careful testing to spot the inevitable issues that have not yet been detected by their respective automatic regression test suites. The earlier they are detected, the easier they will be fixable, in particular if they impact the API.

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