Python Cartographic Library (PCL) — Installing Just the Spatial Package

So let’s say you need a spatial geometry library for Python. You could write your own; you could also use the PCL. The PCL includes some packages we don’t need, like one for MapServer rendering. I only installed the minimum needed to get the spatial package working (which I’ll talk about below)

[Note: “geometry” refers to points, lines, polygons and other geometric forms used to represent real-world objects. Examples: intersection (point), street (line), zip code boundary (polygon).]

I wrote a rudimentary geometry library for the trip planner that’s been working fine, but now I need to do some more “advanced” stuff related to using PostGIS and SQLAlchemy. In particular, I want to convert database values to Python objects and vice versa.

The first part (database to Python) is fairly easy and our current library already does that, but it’s convoluted in that it gets the database value as well-known text (WKT), parses that, and creates a Python object. From what I can tell, the PCL can go straight from well-known binary (WKB) geometry to Python objects.

The second part (Python to database) is harder because it involves converting a Python object to a binary geometry value. I don’t know anything about the binary geometry format and I don’t want to know, and it looks like with the PCL I don’t need to know.

I’m assuming PostGIS and PCL will get along together because they both rely on the same libraries, proj4 and geos. We’ll see.

The installation was fairly straightforward. The PCL includes five sub-packages. We had to install two of them, PCL-Referencing and PCL-Spatial. PCL-Referencing requires proj4. PCL-Spatial requires PCL-Referencing and geos >= 2.2.2. Something in there also requires the OGR library, which is included with GDAL.

The basic steps are, install proj, geos, and gdal, then install PCL-Referencing, and lastly install PCL-Spatial. On Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper), here’s what I actually did: