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Packaging PostGIS dev releases with Docker

Packaging PostGIS dev releases with Docker

We recently added support for GML curves to PostGIS, which enables TinyOWS to deliver WFS requests with curve geometries. More on this in a later post. This enhancement is in the current PostGIS developement version (SVN master) and not released yet. To enable our customer testing this functionality, we had to build packages for their server environment which is Ubuntu Precise with UbuntuGIS repositories. After working with Linux LXC containers and it’s predecessor VServer for years, Docker was a logical choice for a clean reproducible build environment.

Rebuilding a Debian package is usually quite easy:

apt-get build-dep <package>
apt-get source <package>
cd <packagedir>
#Make your changes
dch -i

But getting build dependencies for PostGIS currently fails with libssl-dev conflicts, maybe because the dev packages got out of sync after the recent Heartblead updates. So the Dockerfile uses equivs to build a dummy package which satisfies the dependencies.

The command

docker run -v /tmp:/pkg sourcepole/postgis-svn-build-env sh -c 'cp /root/*postgis*.deb /pkg'

loads the Docker image with packages built from the latest SVN version of PostGIS in /root and copies the deb files from the containter into /tmp.

Now we’re ready to install these packages on the Ubuntu server:

sudo dpkg -i /tmp/*postgis*.deb

Thats it. Feedback welcome!



If you happen to be a developer, then you may prefer running a cutting-edge version of PostGIS in a Docker container instead of building packages. Our colleagues from Oslandia just published how to do this.

FOSSGIS 2014 slides

Neues in QGIS 2.2

Nach dem lange erwarteten Release von QGIS 2.0 im September 2013, sind ab diesem Jahr neue Versionen im Viermonatszyklus geplant. Es werden die neuen Funktionen in QGIS 2.2, wie z.B. DB-Relationen mit verschachtelten Formularen, die erweiterten Methoden zur Transformierung geographischer Koordinatensysteme, zahlreiche Verbesserungen im Print Composer und ein komplett überarbeiteter DXF Export vorgestellt. Zusätzlich wird eine Vorschau auf das multithreaded Rendering gegeben und die neuen Mitglieder im Project Steering Committee vorgestellt


Mobile Kartenviewer mit Openlayers 3

Mit OpenLayers 3 steht eine komplette Neuentwicklung der funktionsreichen OpenLayers-Bibliothek zur Verfügung. Die verbesserte Unterstützung mobiler Geräte war ein primäres Ziel der neuen Version. Dieser Vortrag stellt den JQuery Mobile basierten OL3 Mobile Viewer vor, der erweiterte Funktionen wie automatische Kartenausrichtung oder Positionsnachführung bietet. Es wird auch ein Vergleich mit anderen Viewern, wie der auf Bootstrap und AngularJS aufbauenden Neuentwicklung von Swisstopo angestellt.


NTv2 transformations with QGIS

Datum transformations with grid shift files are used in several countries to convert coordinates between different datums. In Switzerland, datum transformation using the NTv2 method is important because of the upcoming conversion between the LV03 system and the new LV95 system. Up to now, doing coordinate transformations with grid shift files was possible in QGIS, but unconvenient.

To use an NTv2 transformation in QGIS, the grid shift file needs to be placed in a directory where proj4 can find it (usually /usr/share/proj on Linux and OSGeo4W\share\proj on Windows). Alternatively, the environment variable PROJ_LIB can be set to point to the directory with the grid shift file(s). Then we have to enable the setting Options->CRS->‘Ask for datum transformation when no default is defined’.


The next time we use a coordinate transformation which involves a datum transformation, a dialog shows up and presents the available options.


Now it is possible to select the NTv2 transformation file ‘chenyx06a.gsb’ to convert between LV03 and LV95. It is also possible to select the datum transformation as default to avoid being asked again. Default transformation settings can be changed / added / delted in the options tab (or set during installation by an administrator).

To use an NTv2 based transformation which is not yet in the projection database of QGIS, a new entry has to be added to the datum transformation table in srs.db. If you add a transformation which is widely used in your country, please send the changes back to the project so that those entries can be included by default.


The new datum transformation handling will be available in the upcoming QGIS 2.2 and QGIS Enterprise 13.05. The development has been funded by the Swiss cantons Basel-Landschaft and Solothurn. I also want to thank Fabio Di Pietro, Stefan Ziegler and Frank Warmerdam for answering all my questions about datums, coordinate transformations and proj4.

New Mapfish Appserver site with OL3 mobile viewer is online

The city of Winterthur recently launched their new public map portal, based on Mapfish Appserver. Some of the features are outlined in the online help (in German).

Mobile users are redirected to the OL3 Mobile Viewer, which is based on OpenLayers 3 and jQuery Mobile. To have a look at it from your desktop browser follow this link.

mobile viewer

In contrary to the desktop version, most of the background layers are delivered as tiles and only topic layers are full size WMS requests. The interesting thing is, that instead of using a tile protocol like WMTS, TMS, etc., an OL3 tiled WMS datasource does multiple WMS requests in a tile scheme. The usual tiling problems (labels, etc.) do not apply for the used raster layers and Varnish serves as cache for on-the-fly generated WMS tiles. In contrary to file based tile caching, much less disk space and more important, no update process is needed.