The PostGIS Topology types and functions are used to manage topological objects such as faces, edges and nodes.
Sandro Santilli's presentation at PostGIS Day Paris 2011 conference gives a good synopsis of PostGIS Topology and where it is headed Topology with PostGIS 2.0 slide deck.
Vincent Picavet provides a good synopsis and overview of what is Topology,
how is it used, and various FOSS4G tools that support it in
PostGIS Topology PGConf EU 2012
An example of a topologically based GIS database is the US Census Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing System (TIGER) database. If you want to experiment with PostGIS topology and need some data, check out Topology_Load_Tiger.
The PostGIS topology module has existed in prior versions of PostGIS but was never part of the Official PostGIS documentation.
In PostGIS 2.0.0 major cleanup is going on to remove use of all deprecated functions in it, fix known usability issues, better document the features and functions, add new functions, and enhance to closer conform to SQL-MM standards.
Details of this project can be found at PostGIS Topology Wiki
All functions and tables associated with this module are installed in a schema called
Functions that are defined in SQL/MM standard are prefixed with ST_ and functions specific to PostGIS are not prefixed.
Topology support is build by default starting with PostGIS 2.0, and can be disabled specifying --without-topology configure option at build time as described in Chapter 2, PostGIS Installation
This section lists the PostgreSQL data types installed by PostGIS Topology. Note we describe the casting behavior of these which is very
important especially when designing your own functions.
- getfaceedges_returntype —
A composite type that consists of a sequence
number and an edge number.
- TopoGeometry — A composite type representing a topologically defined geometry.
- validatetopology_returntype — A composite type that consists of an error message and id1 and id2 to denote location of error. This is the return type for
This section lists the PostgreSQL domains installed by PostGIS Topology. Domains can be used like object types as return objects of functions or table columns. The distinction between
a domain and a type is that a domain is an existing type with a check constraint bound to it.
- TopoElement — An array of 2 integers generally used to identify a TopoGeometry component.
- TopoElementArray — An array of TopoElement objects.
10.3. Topology and TopoGeometry Management
This section lists the Topology functions for building new Topology schemas, validating topologies, and managing TopoGeometry Columns
- AddTopoGeometryColumn — Adds a topogeometry column to an existing table, registers this new column as a layer in topology.layer and returns the new layer_id.
- DropTopology — Use with caution: Drops a topology schema and deletes its reference from topology.topology table and references to tables in that schema from the geometry_columns table.
- DropTopoGeometryColumn — Drops the topogeometry column from the table named
table_name in schema
schema_name and unregisters the columns from topology.layer table.
- Populate_Topology_Layer — Adds missing entries to topology.layer table by reading metadata from topo tables.
- TopologySummary — Takes a topology name and provides summary totals of types of objects in topology.
- ValidateTopology — Returns a set of validatetopology_returntype objects detailing issues with topology.
- ValidateTopologyRelation — Returns info about invalid topology relation records
- FindTopology — Returns a topology record by different means.
- FindLayer — Returns a topology.layer record by different means.
10.4. Topology Statistics Management
This section discusses management of database statistics during
Adding elements to a topology triggers many database queries for
finding existing edges that will be split, adding nodes and
updating edges that will node with the new linework. For this reason
it is useful that statistics about the data in the topology tables
PostGIS Topology population and editing functions do not automatically
update the statistics because a updating stats after each and every
change in a topology would be overkill, so it is the caller's duty
to take care of that.
That the statistics updated by autovacuum
will NOT be visible to transactions which started before autovacuum
process completed, so long-running transactions will need to run
ANALYZE themselves, to use updated statistics.
10.5. Topology Constructors
This section covers the topology functions for creating new topologies.
- CreateTopology — Creates a new topology schema and registers this new schema in the topology.topology table.
- CopyTopology — Makes a copy of a topology structure (nodes, edges, faces, layers and TopoGeometries).
- ST_InitTopoGeo — Creates a new topology schema and registers this new schema in the topology.topology table and details summary of process.
- ST_CreateTopoGeo —
Adds a collection of geometries to a given empty topology and returns a message detailing success.
- TopoGeo_AddPoint —
Adds a point to an existing topology using a tolerance and possibly splitting an existing edge.
- TopoGeo_AddLineString — Adds a linestring to an existing topology using a tolerance and possibly splitting existing edges/faces. Returns edge identifiers.
- TopoGeo_AddPolygon — Adds a polygon to an existing topology using a tolerance and possibly splitting existing edges/faces. Returns face identifiers.
This section covers topology functions for adding, moving, deleting, and splitting edges, faces, and nodes. All of these functions are defined by ISO SQL/MM.
- ST_AddIsoNode — Adds an isolated node to a face in a topology and returns the nodeid of the new node. If face is null, the node is still created.
- ST_AddIsoEdge — Adds an isolated edge defined by geometry
alinestring to a topology connecting two existing isolated nodes
anothernode and returns the edge id of the new edge.
- ST_AddEdgeNewFaces — Add a new edge and, if in doing so it splits a face, delete the original face and replace it with two new faces.
- ST_AddEdgeModFace — Add a new edge and, if in doing so it splits a face, modify the original face and add a new face.
- ST_RemEdgeNewFace —
Removes an edge and, if the removed edge separated two faces,
delete the original faces and replace them with a new face.
- ST_RemEdgeModFace —
Removes an edge and, if the removed edge separated two faces,
delete one of the them and modify the other to take the space of both.
- ST_ChangeEdgeGeom —
Changes the shape of an edge without affecting the topology structure.
- ST_ModEdgeSplit — Split an edge by creating a new node along an existing edge, modifying the original edge and adding a new edge.
- ST_ModEdgeHeal —
Heals two edges by deleting the node connecting them, modifying the first edge
and deleting the second edge. Returns the id of the deleted node.
- ST_NewEdgeHeal —
Heals two edges by deleting the node connecting them, deleting both edges,
and replacing them with an edge whose direction is the same as the first
- ST_MoveIsoNode — Moves an isolated node in a topology from one point to another. If new
apoint geometry exists as a node an error is thrown. Returns description of move.
- ST_NewEdgesSplit — Split an edge by creating a new node along an existing edge, deleting the original edge and replacing it with two new edges. Returns the id of the new node created that joins the new edges.
- ST_RemoveIsoNode — Removes an isolated node and returns description of action. If the node is not isolated (is start or end of an edge), then an exception is thrown.
- ST_RemoveIsoEdge — Removes an isolated edge and returns description of action. If the edge is not isolated, then an exception is thrown.
- GetEdgeByPoint — Finds the edge-id of an edge that intersects a given point.
- GetFaceByPoint — Finds face intersecting a given point.
- GetFaceContainingPoint — Finds the face containing a point.
- GetNodeByPoint — Finds the node-id of a node at a point location.
- GetTopologyID — Returns the id of a topology in the topology.topology table given the name of the topology.
- GetTopologySRID — Returns the SRID of a topology in the topology.topology table given the name of the topology.
- GetTopologyName — Returns the name of a topology (schema) given the id of the topology.
- ST_GetFaceEdges — Returns a set of ordered edges that bound
- ST_GetFaceGeometry — Returns the polygon in the given topology with the specified face id.
- GetRingEdges —
Returns the ordered set of signed edge identifiers met by walking on an
a given edge side.
- GetNodeEdges —
Returns an ordered set of edges incident to the given node.
10.8. Topology Processing
This section covers the functions for processing topologies in non-standard ways.
- Polygonize — Finds and registers all faces defined by topology edges.
- AddNode — Adds a point node to the node table in the specified topology schema and returns the nodeid of new node. If point already exists as node, the existing nodeid is returned.
- AddEdge — Adds a linestring edge to the edge table and associated start and end points to the point nodes table of the specified topology schema using the specified linestring geometry and returns the edgeid of the new (or existing) edge.
- AddFace — Registers a face primitive to a topology and gets its identifier.
- ST_Simplify — Returns a "simplified" geometry version of the given TopoGeometry using
the Douglas-Peucker algorithm.
- RemoveUnusedPrimitives — Removes topology primitives which not needed to define existing TopoGeometry objects.
10.9. TopoGeometry Constructors
This section covers the topology functions for creating new topogeometries.
- CreateTopoGeom — Creates a new topo geometry object from topo element array - tg_type: 1:[multi]point, 2:[multi]line, 3:[multi]poly, 4:collection
- toTopoGeom — Converts a simple Geometry into a topo geometry.
- TopoElementArray_Agg — Returns a
topoelementarray for a set of element_id, type arrays (topoelements).
10.10. TopoGeometry Editors
This section covers the topology functions for editing existing topogeometries.
10.11. TopoGeometry Accessors
- GetTopoGeomElementArray — Returns a
topoelementarray (an array of topoelements) containing the topological elements and type of the given TopoGeometry (primitive elements).
- GetTopoGeomElements — Returns a set of
topoelement objects containing the topological element_id,element_type of the given TopoGeometry (primitive elements).
- ST_SRID — Returns the spatial reference identifier for a topogeometry.
10.12. TopoGeometry Outputs
- AsGML — Returns the GML representation of a topogeometry.
- AsTopoJSON — Returns the TopoJSON representation of a topogeometry.
10.13. Topology Spatial Relationships
This section lists the Topology functions used to check relationships between topogeometries and topology primitives
- Equals — Returns true if two topogeometries are composed of the same topology primitives.
- Intersects — Returns true if any pair of primitives from the two topogeometries intersect.
10.14. Importing and exporting Topologies
Once you have created topologies, and maybe associated topological layers,
you might want to export them into a file-based format for backup or transfer
into another database.
Using the standard dump/restore tools of PostgreSQL is
problematic because topologies are composed by a set of tables (4 for
primitives, an arbitrary number for layers) and records in metadata tables
(topology.topology and topology.layer). Additionally, topology identifiers
are not univoque across databases so that parameter of your topology
will need to be changes upon restoring it.
In order to simplify export/restore of topologies a pair of
executables are provided:
pgtopo_import. Example usage:
pgtopo_export dev_db topo1 | pgtopo_import topo1 | psql staging_db
10.14.1. Using the Topology exporter
pgtopo_export script takes the name of a
database and a topology and outputs a dump file which can be used
to import the topology (and associated layers) into a new database.
pgtopo_export writes the
dump file to the standard output so that it can be piped to
pgtopo_import or redirected to a file
(refusing to write to terminal). You can optionally specify
an output filename with the
-f commandline switch.
pgtopo_export includes a dump
of all layers defined against the given topology. This may be more
data than you need, or may be non-working (in case your layer tables
have complex dependencies) in which case you can request skipping the
layers with the
--skip-layers switch and deal with those
pgtopo_export with the
-h for short) switch
will always print short usage string.
The dump file format is a compressed tar archive of a
pgtopo_export directory containing
at least a
pgtopo_dump_version file with
format version info. As of version
1 the directory
contains tab-delimited CSV files with data of the topology
primitive tables (node, edge_data, face, relation), the
topology and layer records associated with it and
--skip-layers is given) a custom-format
PostgreSQL dump of tables reported as being layers of the given
10.14.2. Using the Topology importer
pgtopo_import script takes a
pgtopo_export format topology dump and a
name to give to the topology to be created and outputs
an SQL script reconstructing the topology and associated
The generated SQL file will contain statements that create
a topology with the given name, load primitive data in it,
restores and registers all topology layers by properly
linking all TopoGeometry values to their correct topology.
pgtopo_import reads the dump
from the standard input so that it can be used in conjuction
pgtopo_export in a pipeline.
You can optionally specify an input filename with the
-f commandline switch.
pgtopo_import includes in the output
SQL file the code to restore all layers found in the dump.
This may be unwanted or non-working in case your target database already
have tables with the same name as the ones in the dump. In that case
you can request skipping the layers with the
switch and deal with those separately (or later).
SQL to only load and link layers to a named topology can be generated
--only-layers switch. This can be useful to load
layers AFTER resolving the naming conflicts or to link layers to a
different topology (say a spatially-simplified version of the starting