vendredi 30 novembre 2018

SRS barn raising: 6th report

This is the sixth progress report of the GDAL SRS barn effort. The pace of changes has not yet slow down, with still a significant part of the work being in PROJ, and an initial integration in GDAL.

The major news item is that RFC2, implementing the new capabilities (WKT-2 support, late-binding approach, SQLite database), has now been merged into PROJ master.

An initial integration of PROJ master into GDAL has been started in a custom GDAL branch . This includes:
  • PROJ master, which will be released as 6.0, is now a required dependency of GDAL. It actually becomes the only required external third-party dependency (if we except the copies of a few libraries, such as libtiff, libgeotiff, etc. that have been traditionaly included into the GDAL source tree)
  • The dozen of continuous integration configurations have been modified to build PROJ master as a preliminary step.
  • Related to the above, we have including into PROJ a way to "version" its symbols. If PROJ is built with -DPROJ_RENAME_SYMBOLS in CFLAGS and CXXFLAGS, all its exported symbols are prefixed with "internal_". This enables GDAL to link against PROJ master, while still using pre-compiled dependencies (such as libspatialite) that link against the system PROJ version, without a risk of symbol clash. This is particularly useful to be able to run GDAL autotests on continuous integration environments that use pre-packaged dependencies (or if you want to test the new GDAL without rebuilding all reverse dependencies of GDAL). This however remains a hack, and ultimately when PROJ 6 has been released, all reverse dependencies should be built against it. (this solution has been successfully tested in the past where GDAL had a libtiff 4.0 internal copy, whereas external libtiff used by some GDAL dependencies relied on the system libtiff 3.X)
  • Compatibility mechanisms which were required to support older PROJ versions have been removed. In particular, the runtime loading (using dlopen() / LoadLibrary() mechanism) has been removed. It proved to cause code complication, and users frequently ran into headaches with different PROJ versions being loaded and clashing/crashing at runtime.
  • The OGRSpatialReference class which implements CRS manipulation in GDAL has been modified to use the new PROJ functions to import and export between WKT and PROJ strings. Previously GDAL had such code, which is now redundant with what PROJ offers. This preliminary integration caused a number of fixes to be made on PROJ to have compatibility with the input and output of GDAL for WKT.1 and PROJ strings. Besides "moving" code from GDAL to PROJ, a practical consequence is that the addition of a new projection method into PROJ will no longer require changes to be made to GDAL for it to be usable for reprojection purposes.

There have been reflections on how to use the new code developped in PROJ by the existing PROJ code. A pull request is currently under review and implements:
  • changes needed to remove from the data/ directory the now obsolete EPSG, IGNF, esri and esri.extra files to rely instead of the proj.db dataase 
  • making the proj_create_crs_to_crs() API use the new late-binding approach to create transformation pipelines
  • updating cs2cs to use that new API. 
  • list and address backward compatibility issues related to honouring official axis order
Integration phase in GDAL continus with the aim of using more of the new PROJ code. Typically the OGRSpatialReference class that models in GDAL the CRS/SRS was up to now mostly a hierarchy of WKT nodes, where setters methods of OGRSpatialReference would directly create/modify/delete nodes, and getter methods query them. This approach was fine when you had to manage just one WKT version (with the caveat that it was also easy to produce invalid WKT representions, lacking mandatory nodes). However, this is no longer appropriate now that we want to support multiple WKT versions. Our goal is to make OGRSpatialReference act rather on osgeo::proj::CRS objects (and its derived classes). Switching between the two abstractions is a non-trivial task and doing it in a bing-bang approach seemed risky, so we are progressively doing it by using a dual internal modelling. A OGRSpatialReference instance will maintain as a primary source a osgeo::proj::CRS object, and for operations not yet converted to the new approach, will fallback to translating it internally to WKT.1 to allow direct manipulation of the nodes, and then retranslate that updated WKT.1 representation back to a osgeo::proj::CRS object. Ultimately the proportion of methods using the fallback way should decrease (it is not completely clear we can remove all of them since direct node manipulation is spread in a significant number of GDAL drivers). The task is slowly progressing, because each change can subtely modify the final WKT.1 representation (nodes being added, number of significant digits changing) and cause a number of unit tests to break (GDAL autotest suite is made of 280 000 lines of Python code) and be analyzed to see if there was a bug and or just an expected result to be slightly altered.
Because of all the above impacts, we have decided to do an early release in December of GDAL master as GDAL 2.4.0 with all the new features since GDAL 2.3, in order to be able to land this PROJ integration afterwards afterwards. A GDAL 2.5.0 release will hopefully follow around May 2019 with the result of the gdalbarn work.


Other side activities regarding collecting transformation grids:
  • Following a clarification from IGN France on the open licensing of their geodesy related resources, their CRS and transformation XML registry is now processed to populate the IGNF objects in the proj.db database (the previous import used the already processed IGNF file containing PROJ string, which caused information losses). The associated vertical shift grids have also been converted from their text-based format to the PROJ digestable .gtx format, integrated in the proj-datumgrid-europe package, and they have been referenced in the database for transformations that use them.
  • The NGS GEOID 2012B vertical grids to convert between NAD83 ellipsoidal heights and NAVD88 heights have also been integrated in the proj-datumgrid-north-america package

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