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PostGIS Cookbook Paperback – January 24, 2014
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About the Author
Paolo Corti is based in Rome, Italy. He is an environmental engineer with more than 15 years of experience in the GIS sector. After working with proprietary solutions for some years, he has proudly switched to opensource technologies and Python for almost a decade. He has been working as a developer and analyst for organizations such as the EU Joint Research Center, UN World Food Program, and the Italian Government. Currently, he is working within the GeoNode project, for which he is a core developer, in the context of emergency preparedness and response. He is an OSGeo Charter member and writes a blog on opensource GIS at http://www.paolocorti.net/. He is the author of the book's chapters 1, 3, 8, and 9.
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The book is composed of several recipes, all of which are fairly concise. You should have a bit of background working with geodata and be fairly comfortable with reading SQL in order to get the most out of it, because theoretical explanations are kept to a minimum. This is great for users at or above the intermediate level, because it's a perfect format for quickly looking up practical examples of how certain things are done without having to dig a lot. If you're looking to move from beginner to intermediate user, the examples also will help you a lot.
The chapters cover a broad variety of topics, from importing and exporting data to simple raster and vector analyses. Math algebra, terrain analyses, routing and photogrammetry are covered well, as well as serving the data locally or over a web connection and displaying it in a desktop GIS or a self-made web client. There are also some nice examples and explanations of how to administer, maintain and optimize the database itself, as well as analyzing and optimizing the performance of single queries using Postgres' built in profiler. It's helpful for the more advanced topics if you bring some prior knowledge with, but if you're just getting started in these areas the book contains good tips on where you can find further information. The focus is on practicability and presenting examples that are easy to understand, duplicate, and adapt to your own needs.
The only thing that I wish were done better is the code formating. I read the ebook version and in some chapters code blocks were missing line breaks. In the SQL this makes it hard to read, especially because no space was substituted for line breaks, which broke the syntax, but for the Python examples this was even worse because the indentation is semantically significant.
Aside from the formating problem, I was extremely pleased with the PostGIS Cookbook and will surely use it in the future often while migrating analysis steps and data storage into a Postgres/PostGIS database.
In recent years, Postgres has been gaining ground over MySQL as the open source relational database (RDBMS) of choice, and is now arguably the open source RDBMS of choice. One of the reasons for this gain is the geospatial support provided by the PostGIS extensions. Although recent versions of MySQL do provide some geospatial support, these are very limited when compared to PostGres or a commercial database (e.g. Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server). PostGIS is supported by a wide range
of geospatial tools and systems, including most, if not all, of the major open source geospatial projects.
The PostGIS Cookbook follows the familiar Packt cookbook formula of: Introduction, Getting Ready, How to do it,
and How it works. However, few of the recipes include a "Further Information" or "Taking it Further" section. Unlike many of these cookbooks, the PostGIS Cookbook is not a beginner's tutorial that assumes minimal knowledge. Although some of the recipes cover relatively simple tasks such as importing OpenStreetMaps (OSM) data, many are much more sophisticated. Also there is not a step-by-step progression that builds knowledge in a tutorial-like manner. This is not necessarily a bad thing - it makes the book more of a genuine 'cookbook', i.e. collection of recipes that solve typical real world problems.
This does mean the book is not ideal for novices. It also assumes the reader is already familiar with Postgres. Although it introduces and explains a lot of PostGIS functionality, if the reader is not already familiar with the basics of PostGIS, they will also benefit from having access to a tutorial or reference (e.g. the official documentation).
The recipes cover a wide range of data types and sources. These should help users who are looking to import their specific data type. Recipes also reference other systems which can work well with PostGIS, such as Quantum GIS and GRASS. These references barely scratch the surface of what these systems can do, but they may be enough to inform the reader who can then go and research them further.
Chapter topics are:
- Moving Data In and Out of PostGIS: CSV, GDAL, shapefiles, OSM, rasters
- Structures: Geospatial views, triggers, inheritance, normaization, proportional polygon estimates
- Vectors - Basic: GPS data, fixing geometries, simplifications, distances, intersections, clipping, etc
- Vectors - Advanced: Efficient proximity filtering, rotations, translations, scaling, Voronoi polygons
- Rasters: Map algebra, geometetry conversion, warping & resampling, Digital Elevation Models (DEM), Visualising
- pgRouting: Loading data, Dijkstra, A*, service areas, polygon centerlines
- Nth dimension: 3d objects, LIDAR, X3D, UAV photogrammetry
- PostGIS Programming: Psycopg (Python Postgres library), OGR Python bindings, PL/Python, Geocoding (GeoNames, OSM, geopy, PL/Python), netCDF
- PostGIS and the web: UMN MapServer, GeoServer, OpenLayers, Leaflet, GeoDjango
- Maintenance, Optimization, and Performance Tuning: Backups, indexes, clustering, SQL optimization, migration
- Desktop Clients: Quantum GIS, OpenJUMP, gvSIG, uDig.
I know the pgRouting chapter would have been useful if I had had it a couple of years ago when using PostGIS to
batch calculate route distances.
Summarizing, this book is recommended for PostGIS practitioners. PostGIS novices will find it demonstrates a
sophisticated set of functionality, but they will also need a PostGIS tutorial and/or reference.
Because of this issue, I'm giving this book a three star review. However, I might update this if this issue is clarified. As I mentioned, I like the book so far and would really like to work through some of the exercises with the sample data. I don't understand why these resources are so difficult to find, given that this book is centered around the exercises.