v.external.1grass man page

v.external — Creates a new pseudo-vector map as a link to an OGR-supported layer or a PostGIS feature table.


vector, import, external, OGR, PostGIS


v.external --help
v.external [-ofltb] input=string  [layer=name]   [output=name]   [--overwrite]  [--help]  [--verbose]  [--quiet]  [--ui]



Override projection check (use current location’s projection)
Assume that the dataset has the same projection as the current location


List supported formats and exit


List available layers in data source and exit


List available layers including feature type in data source and exit
Format: layer name,type,projection check,geometry


Do not build topology
Advantageous when handling a large number of points


Allow output files to overwrite existing files


Print usage summary


Verbose module output


Quiet module output


Force launching GUI dialog


input=string [required]

Name of input OGR or PostGIS data source
ESRI Shapefile: directory containing a shapefile
MapInfo File: directory containing a mapinfo file
PostGIS database: connection string, eg. ’PG:dbname=db user=grass’


Name of OGR layer or PostGIS feature table to be linked
ESRI Shapefile: shapefile name
MapInfo File: mapinfo file name
PostGIS database: table name


Name for output GRASS vector map (default: input layer)


v.external creates new vector map as a link to external OGR layer or PostGIS feature table. OGR (Simple Features Library) is part of the GDAL library, so you need to install GDAL to use v.external for external OGR layers. Note that a PostGIS feature table can be linked also using built-in GRASS-PostGIS data driver (requires GRASS to be built with PostgreSQL support).


The simple feature data model used by OGR (or PostGIS) is very different from the topological format used by GRASS. Instead of true topology, so called ’pseudo topology’ is created for data linked by v.external. User should learn the difference between those two formats, because some modules working correctly with GRASS native data, can produce wrong results with input vector maps created by v.external.

See v.db.connect for an example of maintaining attributes in external DBMS in also writable mode.

Supported OGR vector formats

To list supported OGR formats, type

v.external -f

For details see GDAL web site.


ESRI Shapefile

Assuming that ’test_shape.shp’ is located in directory ’/home/user/shape_data’.

v.external input=/home/user/shape_data layer=test_shape output=grass_map

PostGIS layers

By default, PostGIS links are created by built-in PostGIS support, ie. using GRASS-PostGIS data driver. If the environment variable GRASS_VECTOR_OGR exists, or GRASS is compiled without PostgreSQL support then GRASS will use OGR-PostgreSQL driver for creating a link.

List of layers for given data source can be printed by -l flag.

v.external input="PG:host=localhost user=postgres dbname=postgis" -l
v.external input="PG:host=localhost user=postgres dbname=postgis" layer=polymap

Note: Authentication details (user password) can be preferably defined by db.login.

MapInfo files

Assuming that ’mapinfo_test’ MapInfo file is located in the current directory (".").

v.external input=./ layer=mapinfo_test output=grass_map

SDTS files

Note: you have to select the CATD file

v.external input=CITXCATD.DDF output=cities

TIGER files

v.external input=input/2000/56015/ layer=CompleteChain,PIP output=t56015_all


OGR vector library C API documentation

See Also

v.external.out, v.clean, v.db.connect, v.import, v.in.db, v.in.ogr, v.out.ogr

GDAL Library

See also GRASS user wiki page for more examples.


Radim Blazek, ITC-Irst, Trento, Italy
PostGIS support by Martin Landa, GeoForAll (OSGeoREL) Lab, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic

Last changed: $Date: 2017-01-17 21:31:26 +0100 (Tue, 17 Jan 2017) $

Source Code

Available at: v.external source code (history)

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