GeoDesk: A fast and compact database engine for OSM features

Hello World!

We’ve released GeoDesk, a new database engine designed specifically for OpenStreetMap data.

Its advantages:

  • Compact file format: A GeoDesk database is a single self-contained file, only 20% to 50% larger than an equivalent .osm.pbf file (That’s one-tenth the size of a traditional database).

  • Fast imports: Turning .osm.pbf data into a GeoDesk database is significantly faster than a traditional database import (minutes instead of hours).

  • Queries are fast (micro-seconds instead of milliseconds) and intuitive (MapCSS-like syntax)

  • Full support of the OSM data model (including relations). Alternatively, users can treat OSM elements as simple features and just work with points, lines and polygons.

  • Seamless integration with the Java Topology Suite for advanced geometric operations (buffer/union/simplify, convex/concave hulls, Voronoi diagrams, and more)

  • Easy to share and distribute OSM data: Internally, a GeoDesk database is organized into tiles, which can be exported in compressed form (similar in size to .osm.pbf, and often smaller). Others can then download the tiles for only the regions they need.

  • Modest hardware requirements: Just about any 64-bit system is fine for working with existing databases or tile sets. For country-size imports, we recommend an SSD and 8 GB RAM (24 GB if you routinely import planet-size datasets).

  • Cross-platform (pure Java)

  • 100% free & open-source

GeoDesk is primarily aimed at software developers, who can integrate the database engine into their own geospatial applications. There is also a stand-alone utility, which allows users to select and filter OSM elements and export them in various formats (e.g. GeoJSON).

Please visit for documentation, examples and setup instructions, or our source-code repository on GitHub.

As this is our initial release, the software isn’t perfectly polished yet. We expect to ship a maintenance release in about month to address any issues that will invariably crop up once the toolkit runs on a broader variety of platforms. Please open an issue on GitHub if you discover a bug or need help. If your question may be of interest to non-developers, you can also post it on this forum (just mention @GeoDeskTeam).

GeoDesk is a non-commercial project, maintained solely by volunteers (though we may offer paid support or consulting services in the future). We developed this database engine for one of our own projects, because we could not find any solution that met our needs. We figured that there are probably other developers like us who could benefit from it, so we decided to release it as open source.

Today marks the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We’re not suggesting that these two events are comparable, but we hope that by knocking down technological barriers, we’ll help advance OpenStreetMap’s mission to make geospatial data freely accessible to anyone.

Thanks for checking out our work, and happy queries!

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