Note: these pages are no longer maintained

Never the less, much of the information is still relevant.
Beware, however, that some of the command syntax is from older versions, and thus may no longer work as expected.
Also: external links, from external sources, inside these pages may no longer function.

using SpatiaLite

a fast and simple practical how-to for absolute beginners

SpatiaLite logo

Introduction / Table of Contents

2011 January 28

Manifest declaration: in Computing there are two ill-fated words: database and SQL.

Both terms share a long-established and deeply consolidated bad reputation:
simply pronouncing their name will immediately cause strong negative reactions:
"too much complicated", "I'll never be able to understand all this", "nerds oddities" and so on ...

If all this is indisputably true for plain basic SQL, what's about the most exotic Spatial SQL ?
Obviously, this sounds by far much more complex and intimidating:
for sure only very few specially trained and highly qualified gurus can cope with Spatial SQL, isn't ?

Forget all this, and be open-minded !
(I was quite going to write: Bullshit ! but I don't feel using abusive words could mark a good style start ...)

I suppose all the above prejudices simply are the sad consequence of long standing marketing policies.
For many years the DB market was dominated by highly-priced proprietary software:
and the Spatial DB simply represented a narrowest specialized segment (even more exaggeratedly expensive) within mainstream DB market.
So the intimidating sacral aura surrounding DB technologies was much more a cover-up story to justify abnormally high prices than an objective technical fact.
Happily the actual truth is quite different from this: any normally computer-skilled professional people can easily learn and successfully use both SQL and Spatial SQL;
there is absolutely nothing difficult, obscure or much more complex in using them.

And when I say professional people I don't necessarily intend developers, computer engineers or GIS professionals:
I'm personally well aware that lots of ecologists, traffic engineers, botanicians, environmental engineers, zoologists, public administration officers, geologists, geographers, archeologists (and many others) successfully use Spatial SQL on their daily activities.

So you can now get a sophisticated, standard and really effective Spatial DB absolutely for free and in the easiest and painless way.
And that's not all: SpatiaLite is strongly integrated into the open source ecosystem.
So you can immediately connect any SpatiaLite's DB using e.g. QGIS (a well known and widespread desktop GIS app).

You don't believe to my assertions ? Well, try by yourself: come touching with your hands and seeing with your eyes.
What could be better than this approach to get a first-hand neutral, objective and unbiased experience ?

Following this tutorial will approximately take about an hour or two of your precious time:
that's not a too much demanding task, and you are not required to perform any exceptional effort.

SpatiaLite is absolutely free (in both meanings: it's free as free beer, and it's free as free speech): so you can get a quick glance at latest state-of-the-art Spatial SQL technologies in the easiest and simplest way.
And once you've got your own opinion on the basis of your direct first-hand experience, you can then decide by yourself if Spatial SQL can be useful (one way or the other) for your daily activities.

How this tutorial is structured: think of some Cookbook. At first you are expected to simply acquire some limited and basic knowledge about:
  • pottery and kitchen tools: pans, bowls, pots, knives, spoons, whisks ....
  • commonly used ingredients: eggs, fish, meat, vegetables, spices, seasonings ...
  • elementary cooking techniques: boiling, grilling, roasting, deep-frying, creaming ...
Once you have acquired such basic notions you are ready to confront yourself with simple but nutrient and tasty recipes: we can name this level as family cooking
For many people this is their best effort: that's enough for them, and they'll quit at this point.

But many other will probably discover that after all cooking is funny and really interesting: so they'll surely ask for something much more sophisticated.
Any good cookbook will certainly end introducing several complex haute cuisine recipes.
May well be you'll never become a real chef de cuisine, but you will amuse yourself anyway, and feel proud of your cooking skills.

SpatiaLite Cookbook
Table of contents

Kitchen tools and cooking techniques kitchen tools

Commonly used ingredients meat

Family cooking fettuccine

Haute cuisine terrine de saumon

Desserts, spirits, tea and coffee fried banana

The author CC-BY-SA logo Author: Alessandro Furieri
This work is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license.

GNU logo Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.