|Version 7 (modified by warmerdam, 6 years ago)|
RFC 14: Null Masks
Author: Frank Warmerdam
Some file formats support a concept of a bitmask to identify pixels that are not valid data. This can be particularly valuable with byte image formats where a nodata pixel value can not be used because all pixel values have a valid meaning. This RFC tries to formalize a way of recognising and accessing such null masks through the GDAL API.
The basic approach is to treat such masks as raster bands, but not regular raster bands on the datasource. Instead they are freestanding raster bands in a manner similar to the overview raster band objects. The nodata masks are represented as GDT_Byte bands with a value of zero indicating nodata and non-zero values indicating valid data. Normally the value 255 will be used for valid data pixels.
GDALRasterBand is extended with the following methods:
GDALRasterBand *GetNullMask(); int GetNullMaskFlags();
Note that the GetNullMask() should always return a GDALRasterBand mask, even if it is only an all 255 mask with the type indicating "all valid".
The GetNullMaskFlags() method returns an ORed set of status flags with the following available definitions that may be extended in the future:
- GNMF_ALL_VALID(0x01): There are no invalid pixels, all mask values will be 255. When used this will normally be the only flag set.
- GNMF_PER_DATASET(0x02): The mask band is shared between all bands on the dataset.
- GNMF_ALPHA(0x04): The mask band is actually an alpha band and may have values other than 0 and 255.
Note that the GetNullMask() should always return a GDALRasterBand mask, even if it is only an all 255 mask with the flag GNMF_ALL_VALID set.
The GDALRasterBand class will include a default implementation of GetNullMask() that returns one of three default implementations.
- If the band has a nodata value set, an instance of the new GDALNodataMaskRasterBand class will be returned. GetNullMaskFlags() will return zero (no flags set).
- If there is no nodata value, but the dataset has an alpha band that seems to apply to this band (specific rules yet to be determined) and that is of type GDT_Byte then that alpha band will be returned, and the flags GNMF_PER_DATASET and GNMF_ALPHA will be returned in the flags.
- If neither of the above apply, an instance of the new GDALAllValidRasterBand class will be returned that has 255 values for all pixels. The null flags will return GNMF_ALL_VALID.
When a dataset has a normal GDT_Byte alpha (transparency) band that applies, it should be returned as the null mask, but the GetNullMaskFlags() method should include GNMF_ALPHA. For processing purposes any value other than 0 should be treated as valid data, though some algorithms will treat values between 1 and 254 as partially transparent.
These drivers will be updated:
- JPEG Driver: support the "zlib compressed mask appended to the file" approach used by a few data providers.
- GRASS Driver: updated to support handling null values as masks.
- HDF4 Driver: This driver might possibly be updated to return real mask if we can figure out a way.
- SDE Driver: This driver might be updated if Howard has sufficient time and enthusiasm.
The gdalwarp utility and the gdal warper algorithm will be updated to use null masks on input. The warper algorithm already uses essentially this model internally. For now gdalwarp output (nodata or alpha band) will remain unchanged, though at some point in the future support may be added for explicitly generating null masks, but for most purposes producing an alpha band is producing a null mask.
This change will be implemented by Frank Warmerdam in trunk in time for the 1.5.0 release.
The GetNullMask() and GetNullMaskFlags() methods (and corrsponding defines) will need to be added. The bitmask should work like a normal raster band for swig purposes so minimal special work should be required.
- I haven't filled in how creation of masks works.
- I haven't talked about bitmask-via-spill file possibilities for the PAM subsystem.