[R-sig-Geo] Building Windows binary of rgdal package to include PGeo driver for reading ESRI personal geodatabases.

Michael Denslow michael.denslow at gmail.com
Tue Feb 7 14:24:16 CET 2012

Hi Roger and Josh,

On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 3:04 PM, Obrien, Josh <JObrien at ucdavis.edu> wrote:
>>> On Tue, 31 Jan 2012, Obrien, Josh wrote:
>>> I am a long-time R user, currently working with a team of ArcGIS users.
>>> The GIS guys would like to be able pass me data in the form of ESRI
>>> personal geodatabases (*.mdb), but the OGR driver that reads such files
>>> (PGeo) is not included in the Windows rgdal binary.
>>> Roger Bivand's 2008 book (p 111) and the "README.windows" file located
>>> in rgdal's main directory both have the same advice for me. They tell me
>>> that "the R Windows binary rgdal package can be built against an FWTools
>>> binary, using VC++."
>> Josh,
>> Could you please try to install R-devel for Windows:
>> http://cran.r-project.org/bin/windows/base/rdevel.html
>> and install the CRAN binary of rgdal? Prof. Brian Ripley and Uwe Ligges
>> have been continuing their excellent support for us and the whole
>> community, and as part of build train enhancements for forthcoming 2.15 on
>> Windows, have built GDAL with more dependencies, including ODBC. For me on
>> R-devel, ogrDrivers() now shows:
>> 23   MapInfo File  TRUE
>> 24         Memory  TRUE
>> 25   MSSQLSpatial  TRUE
>> 26           ODBC  TRUE
>> 27        OpenAir FALSE
>> 28         PCIDSK  TRUE
>> 29            PDS FALSE
>> 30         PGDump  TRUE
>> 31           PGeo FALSE
>> where FALSE means that the driver cannot write Pgeo files. It would be
>> helpful if you could try it out, which may well mean finding out how to
>> declare the Pgeo data source through ODBC or some such.
>> If you can find out how to use the driver, it may be simpler to go with
>> 2.15 as Devel will become, most likely in April 2012, than try to build
>> using FWTools or OSGeo4W.
>> Hope this helps,
>> Roger
> Dear Professor Bivand,
> That's phenomenally helpful.
> For the record, after installing R-devel (soon to be R-2.15.0) from http://cran.r-project.org/bin/windows/base/rdevel.html, the following steps were the only ones needed to read data from an ESRI personal geodatabase into an R SpatialPointsDataFrame. (The table to be read is named "TelemetryPoints", and is stored in the personal geodatabase at "C://temp/example.mdb"):
> install.packages("rgdal")
> library(rgdal)
> ogrDrivers()      # Confirming that the PGeo driver was indeed installed
> SPDF <- readOGR("C://temp/example.mdb", "Telemetry points")
> Thanks so much for your help,
> Josh O'Brien
> P.S. Not sure I yet have the hang of properly quoting the context from previous emails in the thread.

Sorry to join this discuss late, but I have also been curious about
reading ESRI geodatabases since I teach with ArcGIS and work with
rgdal for my own research purposes. I have two questions that I hope
are not too off topic.

1. I have the most recent rgdal version (rgdal_0.7-8) build from
source and Pgeo driver list says FALSE. I am using MAC OS 10.6. Can
you point me to documentation to use this on Mac OS?

2. Alternatively, I noticed that GDAL 1.9 has a new driver for .mdb
(http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/wiki/Release/1.9.0-News). However this
makes reference to Pgeo.
Will this driver change things significantly?

I am still using GDAL 1.8 downloaded from

Thanks for any thoughts and/or advice,

Michael Denslow

I.W. Carpenter Jr. Herbarium [BOON]
Department of Biology
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina U.S.A.
-- AND --
Communications Manager
Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections

36.214177, -81.681480 +/- 3103 meters

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