RFC 51: RasterIO() improvements : resampling and progress callback

Author: Even Rouault
Contact: even dot rouault at spatialys dot com
Status: Adopted, implemented in GDAL 2.0


This RFC aims at extending the RasterIO() API to allow specifying a resampling algorithm when doing requests involving subsampling or oversampling. A progress callback can also be specified to be notified of progression and allow the user to interrupt the operation.

Core changes

Addition of GDALRasterIOExtraArg structure

A new structure GDALRasterIOExtraArg is added to contain the new options.

/** Structure to pass extra arguments to RasterIO() method
  * @since GDAL 2.0
typedef struct
    /*! Version of structure (to allow future extensions of the structure) */ 
    int                    nVersion;

    /*! Resampling algorithm */ 
    GDALRIOResampleAlg     eResampleAlg;

    /*! Progress callback */ 
    GDALProgressFunc       pfnProgress;
    /*! Progress callback user data */ 
    void                  *pProgressData;

    /*! Indicate if dfXOff, dfYOff, dfXSize and dfYSize are set.
        Mostly reserved from the VRT driver to communicate a more precise
        source window. Must be such that dfXOff - nXOff < 1.0 and
        dfYOff - nYOff < 1.0 and nXSize - dfXSize < 1.0 and nYSize - dfYSize < 1.0 */
    int                    bFloatingPointWindowValidity;
    /*! Pixel offset to the top left corner. Only valid if bFloatingPointWindowValidity = TRUE */
    double                 dfXOff;
    /*! Line offset to the top left corner. Only valid if bFloatingPointWindowValidity = TRUE */
    double                 dfYOff;
    /*! Width in pixels of the area of interest. Only valid if bFloatingPointWindowValidity = TRUE */
    double                 dfXSize;
    /*! Height in pixels of the area of interest. Only valid if bFloatingPointWindowValidity = TRUE */
    double                 dfYSize;
} GDALRasterIOExtraArg;


/** Macro to initialize an instance of GDALRasterIOExtraArg structure.
  * @since GDAL 2.0
         (s).eResampleAlg = GRIORA_NearestNeighbour; \
         (s).pfnProgress = NULL; \
         (s).pProgressData = NULL; \
         (s).bFloatingPointWindowValidity = FALSE; } while(0)

There are several reasons to prefer a structure rather than new parameters to the RasterIO() methods :

  • code readability (GDALDataset::IRasterIO() has already 14 parameters...)
  • allow future extensions without changing the prototype in all drivers
  • to a lesser extent, efficiency: it is common for RasterIO() calls to be chained between generic/specific and/or dataset/rasterband implementations. Passing just the pointer is more efficient.

The structure is versionned. In the future if further options are added, the new members will be added at the end of the structure and the version number will be incremented. Code in GDAL core&drivers can check the version number to determine which options are available.

Addition of GDALRIOResampleAlg structure

The following resampling algorithms are available :

/** RasterIO() resampling method.
  * @since GDAL 2.0
typedef enum
    /*! Nearest neighbour */                            GRIORA_NearestNeighbour = 0,
    /*! Bilinear (2x2 kernel) */                        GRIORA_Bilinear = 1,
    /*! Cubic Convolution Approximation (4x4 kernel) */ GRIORA_Cubic = 2,
    /*! Cubic B-Spline Approximation (4x4 kernel) */    GRIORA_CubicSpline = 3,
    /*! Lanczos windowed sinc interpolation (6x6 kernel) */ GRIORA_Lanczos = 4,
    /*! Average */                                      GRIORA_Average = 5,
    /*! Mode (selects the value which appears most often of all the sampled points) */
                                                        GRIORA_Mode = 6,
    /*! Gauss blurring */                               GRIORA_Gauss = 7
} GDALRIOResampleAlg;

Those new resampling methods can be used by the GDALRasterBand::IRasterIO() default implementation when the size of the buffer (nBufXSize x nBufYSize) is different from the size of the area of interest (nXSize x nYSize). The code heavily relies on the algorithms used for overview computation, with adjustments to be also able to deal with oversampling. Bilinear, CubicSpline? and Lanczos are now available in overview computation as well, and rely on the generic infrastructure for convolution computation introduced lately for improved cubic overviews. Some algorithms are not available on raster bands with color palette. A warning will be emitted if an attempt of doing so is done, and nearest neightbour will be used as a fallback.

The GDAL_RASTERIO_RESAMPLING configuration option can be set as an alternate way of specifying the resampling algorithm. Mainly usefull for tests with applications that do not yet use the new API.

Currently, the new resampling methods are only available for GF_Read operations. The use case for GF_Write operations isn't obvious, but could be added without API changes if needed.

C++ changes

GDALDataset and GDALRasterBand (non virtual) RasterIO() and (virtual) IRasterIO() methods have a new final argument psExtraArg of type GDALRasterIOExtraArg*. This extra argument defaults to NULL for code using GDAL, but is required for all in-tree code, so as to avoid that in-tree code forgets to forwards psExtraArg it might have returned from a caller.

GDALDataset::RasterIO() and GDALRasterBand::RasterIO() can accept a NULL pointer for that argument in which case they will instanciate a default GDALRasterIOExtraArg structure to be passed to IRasterIO(). Any other code that calls IRasterIO() directly (a few IReadBlock() implementations) should make sure of doing so, so that IRasterIO() can assume that its psExtraArg is not NULL.

As a provision to be able to deal with very large requests with buffers larger than several gigabytes, the nPixelSpace, nLineSpace and nBandSpace parameters have been promoted from the int datatype to the new GSpacing datatype, which is an alias of a signed 64 bit integer.

GDALRasterBand::IRasterIO() and GDALDataset::BlockBasedRasterIO() now use the progress callback when available.

C API changes

Only additions :

    GDALDatasetH hDS, GDALRWFlag eRWFlag,
    int nDSXOff, int nDSYOff, int nDSXSize, int nDSYSize,
    void * pBuffer, int nBXSize, int nBYSize, GDALDataType eBDataType,
    int nBandCount, int *panBandCount, 
    GSpacing nPixelSpace, GSpacing nLineSpace, GSpacing nBandSpace,
    GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg);

GDALRasterIOEx( GDALRasterBandH hRBand, GDALRWFlag eRWFlag,
                int nDSXOff, int nDSYOff, int nDSXSize, int nDSYSize,
                void * pBuffer, int nBXSize, int nBYSize,GDALDataType eBDataType,
                GSpacing nPixelSpace, GSpacing nLineSpace,
                GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg );

Those are the same as the existing functions with a final GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg argument, and the spacing parameters promoted to GSpacing.

Changes in drivers

  • All in-tree drivers that implemented or used RasterIO have been edited to accept the GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg parameter, and forward it when needed. Those who had a custom RasterIO() implementation now use the progress callback when available.
  • VRT: the <SimpleSource?> and <ComplexSource?> elements can accept a 'resampling' attribute. The VRT driver will also set the dfXOff, dfYOff, dfXSize and dfYSize fields of GDALRasterIOExtraArg* to have source sub-pixel accuracy, so that GDALRasterBand::IRasterIO() leads to consistant results when operating on a small area of interest or the whole raster. If that was not done, chunking done in GDALDatasetCopyWholeRaster() or other algorithms could lead to repeated lines due to integer rounding issues.

Changes in utilities

  • gdal_translate: accept a -r parameter to specify the resampling algorithm. Defaults to NEAR. Can be set to bilinear, cubic, cubicspline, lanczos, average or mode. (Under the hood, this sets the new resampling property at the VRT source level.)
  • gdaladdo: -r parameter now accepts bilinear, cubicspline and lanczos as additional algorithms to the existing ones.

Changes in SWIG bindings

  • For Python and Perl bindings: Band.ReadRaster?(), Dataset.ReadRaster?() now accept optional resample_alg, callback and callback_data arguments. (untested for Perl, but the existing tests pass)
  • For Python bindings, Band.ReadAsArray?() and Dataset.ReadAsArray?() now accept optional resample_alg, callback and callback_data arguments.


  • C API/ABI preserved.
  • C++ users of the GDALRasterBand::RasterIO() and GDALDataset::RasterIO() API do not need to change their code, since the new GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg argument is optional for out-of-tree code.
  • Out-of-tree drivers that implement IRasterIO() must be changed to accept the new GDALRasterIOExtraArg* psExtraArg argument. Note: failing to do so will be undetected at compile time (due to how C++ virtual method overloading work).

Both issues will be mentionned in MIGRATION_GUIDE.TXT


All new methods are documented.


The various aspects of this RFC are tested in the Python bindings:


Implementation will be done by Even Rouault (Spatialys), and sponsored by R3 GIS.

The proposed implementation lies in the "rasterio" branch of the repository.

The list of changes :

Voting history

+1 from FrankW, JukkaR, HowardB, DanielM, TamasS and EvenR

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Dec 4, 2014 3:05:00 AM