Read OGR vector maps into Spatial objects

The function reads an OGR data source and layer into a suitable Spatial vector object. It can only handle layers with conformable geometry features (not mixtures of points, lines, or polygons in a single layer). It will set the spatial reference system if the layer has such metadata.

If reading a shapefile, the data source name (dsn= argument) is the folder (directory) where the shapefile is, and the layer is the name of the shapefile (without the .shp extension). For example to read bounds.shp from C:/Maps, do map <- readOGR(dsn="C:/Maps", layer="bounds"). The logic behind this is that typically one keeps all the shapefiles for a project in one folder (directory).

As noted below, for other file type drivers, the dsn= argument is interpreted differently, and may be the file name itself, as for example with the GPX driver for reading GPS data as layer="tracks" lines or layer="track_points" points.

readOGR(dsn, layer, verbose = TRUE, p4s=NULL, 
 drop_unsupported_fields=FALSE, input_field_name_encoding=NULL,
 pointDropZ=FALSE, dropNULLGeometries=TRUE,
 useC=TRUE, disambiguateFIDs=FALSE)
ogrInfo(dsn, layer, input_field_name_encoding=NULL)
ogrFIDs(dsn, layer)
OGRSpatialRef(dsn, layer)
## S3 method for class 'ogrinfo':
print(x, ...)
data source name (interpretation varies by driver --- for some drivers, dsn is a file name, but may also be a folder)
layer name (varies by driver, may be a file name without extension)
report progress
PROJ4 string defining CRS, if default NULL, the value is read from the OGR data set
logical: should character vectors be converted to factors? The factory-fresh default is TRUE, but this can be changed by setting options(stringsAsFactors = FALSE) (see li
default FALSE, if TRUE skip fields other than String, Integer, and Real; Date, Time and DateTime are converted to String
default NULL; if not NULL, should be a valid encoding name for the source platform of the data source and layer, see iconv
default FALSE, if TRUE, discard third coordinates for point geometries; third coordinates are alway discarded for line and polygon geometries
default TRUE, drop both declared NULL geometries, and empty geometries with no coordinates; if FALSE, return a data frame with the attribute values of the NULL and empty geometries
default TRUE, if FALSE use original interpreted code in a loop
default FALSE, if TRUE, and FID values are not unique, they will be set to unique values 1:N for N features; problem observed in GML files
ogrinfo object
other arguments to print method

The drivers available will depend on the installation of GDAL/OGR, and can vary; the ogrDrivers() function shows which are available, and which may be written (but all are assumed to be readable). Note that stray files in data source directories (such as *.dbf) may lead to suprious errors that accompanying *.shp are missing.


  • A Spatial object is returned suiting the vector data source, either a SpatialPointsDataFrame (using an AttributeList for its data slot directly), a SpatialLinesDataFrame, or a SpatialPolygonsDataFrame.


The bases for this implementation are taken from functions in Barry Rowlingson's draft Rmap package, and from Radim Blazek's program in GRASS.

Please note that the OGR drivers used may not handle missing data gracefully, and be prepared to have to correct for this manually. From rgdal 0.5-27, missing value handling has been improved, and OGR unset field values are set to NA in R, but drivers and external files may vary in their representations of missing values.

In addition, from 0.6-9 date and time fields are read as strings rather than being treated as unsupported; NULL geometries are identified and dropped. There are differences in the reporting of NULL geometries between ogrInfo and readOGR - in ogrInfo, only declared NULL geometries are reported, but in readOGR, any line or polygon geometries with no coordinates are assigned NULL geometry status as well. An attempt is made to close unclosed rings in polygon geometries.

For reading GPX files, refer to the OGR GPX format documentation for the use of layer tags: waypoints, tracks, routes, track_points and route_points - reading GPX files requires a build of GDAL/OGR with the expat XML library.

From 0.6-10, attempts are made to detect deleted features still present in the layer, but not read. Apparently features deleted in Qgis are only marked as deleted, but are still in the layer. These are not NULL geometries, but still need to be handled. An attempt is made to check the FID values, and ogrFIDs now returns attributes permitting this oddity to be detected. Such deleted features were seen as NULL in 0.6-9, but are not such.


See Also

SpatialPointsDataFrame-class, SpatialLinesDataFrame-class, SpatialPolygonsDataFrame-class, readShapePoly, iconv

  • readOGR
  • ogrInfo
  • print.ogrinfo
  • ogrFIDs
  • ogrDrivers
  • OGRSpatialRef
  • ogrListLayers
dsn <- system.file("vectors", package = "rgdal")[1]
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="cities")
cities <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="cities")
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="kiritimati_primary_roads")
OGRSpatialRef(dsn=dsn, layer="kiritimati_primary_roads")
kiritimati_primary_roads <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="kiritimati_primary_roads")
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="scot_BNG")
OGRSpatialRef(dsn=dsn, layer="scot_BNG")
scot_BNG <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="scot_BNG")
if ("GML" %in% ogrDrivers()$name) {
  dsn <- system.file("vectors/airports.gml", package = "rgdal")[1]
  airports <- try(readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="airports"))
  if (class(airports) != "try-error") summary(airports)
dsn <- system.file("vectors/ps_cant_31.MIF", package = "rgdal")[1]
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="ps_cant_31")
ps_cant_31 <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="ps_cant_31")
sapply(as(ps_cant_31, "data.frame"), class)
ps_cant_31 <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="ps_cant_31", stringsAsFactors=FALSE)
sapply(as(ps_cant_31, "data.frame"), class)
dsn <- system.file("vectors/", package = "rgdal")[1]
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="Up")
Up <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="Up")
dsn <- system.file("vectors/test_trk2.gpx", package = "rgdal")[1]
test_trk2 <- try(readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="tracks"))
if (class(test_trk2) != "try-error") summary(test_trk2)
test_trk2pts <- try(readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="track_points"))
if (class(test_trk2pts) != "try-error") summary(test_trk2pts)
dsn <- system.file("vectors", package = "rgdal")[1]
ogrInfo(dsn=dsn, layer="trin_inca_pl03")
birds <- readOGR(dsn=dsn, layer="trin_inca_pl03")
Documentation reproduced from package rgdal, version 0.7-7, License: GPL (>= 2)

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