Databases in Space

Databases in Space

Simple tricks for using geometry fields in MySQL and Laravel


Matt Stauffer

March 06, 2019


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    Usually means “relating to geographic position”, or “how something’s position

    relates to the Earth’s surface” geospatialadjective
  5. 10.

    • Latitude: parallel to the equator; north is positive, south

    is negative • Longitude: perpendicular to the equator; west of Greenwich, England is negative, east of it is positive • Both are 0 at the “center of the world”, which is the equator north/south, and the “prime meridian”, or Greenwich, England, east/west • Resets on the other side of the world, at the antimeridian: Fiji, mainly LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE
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    Matt’s trick to remembering: 
 (the equator is a latidude

    line) equilateral ! works for me WHICH IS LATITUDE, WHICH IS LONGITUDE?
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    HOW FAR BETWEEN DEGREES? • All latitude & longitude degrees

    are not the same distance apart. So there’s no easy formula for “how far is one degree.” • Some folks use degrees, minutes, seconds (51° 28' 38'' N)… just math. +51.477222
  8. 15.

    • GIS: Geographic Information System • OpenGIS: Open spec released

    by OGC consortium for web geo interop; kinda like the FIG but with less drama and for geospatial • ArcGIS: $$$ Windows desktop software everyone uses; expensive, proprietary, Windows-only, etc. • PostGIS: “Spatial and geographic objects for PostgreSQL” • WKT: “Well-known text”; representing geometry as ASCII • WKB: “Well-known binary”; WKT but blobby • GeoJSON: WKT-ish, but JSON TERMS
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    • Five closest restaurants… how? • Update our geolocation call:

    • /api/restaurants/near?latitude=-84&longitude=45 • Make a scope on the Restaurant model: • scopeClosestTo($latitude, $longitude) • … sort by… something? BASIC DISTANCE
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    What if we want to do delivery radius?

    restaurant delivers to me?” INVERTING OUR LOGIC—“WITHIN RANGE”
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    • Basic math and stuff in that endpoint • Restaurant

    longitude +- (delivery_distance / 2) • Restaurant latitude +- (delivery_distance / 2) • SELECT query example for that boundary • BUT WAIT!…. DRAWING SQUARES
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    • Spatial Reference Identifier—for geometries or geographies • MySQL supports

    over 5000 SR’s • Most common: • SRID 0 (MySQL default) just means “flat” (fine for geometry, not for geography) • SRID 4326 (WGS84) is most common; what GPSes uses • SRID 3857 is what Google Maps and Bing use SRID
  13. 41.

    • Introduced in MySQL 5.5; available in PostgreSQL since ~2001

    with PostGIS extension. GEOMETRY COLUMN TYPE
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    • Text representation of a point:

    representation of a shape:
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    Geometry methods that can be used for select, order, and

    where statements (and other things—to cover later) • ST_CONTAINS: second value is within first value • ST_WITHIN: first value is within second value • ST_INTERSECTS: two shapes intersect • ST_TOUCHES: two shapes have touching boundaries ST_* METHODS
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    • Centroid is the center point of this shape— technically

    “the intersection of all straight lines that divide the shape into two parts of equal moment about the line” • In SQL: Centroid(service_regions.shape) • Less fragile “overlaps” by using “centroid is within” CENTROIDS
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    • Data stored as binary; convert WKT text to binary

    using ST_* methods TEXT-TO-GEOMETRY CONVERSION • ST_GeomFromText • ST_GeomFromGeoJSON
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    • Not a “file”; more like a directory of ~10

    files • .shp, .shx, and .dbf files have to be in there, but there are usually more • Designed by ESRI—sort of like the spatial equivalent of .xlsx SHAPEFILES
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    • Created by an Internet working group () instead of

    an existing shadowy monolithic organization • Easy to convert to and from GeoJSON, and viable in any modern tools GEOJSON
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    • Simple stuff. For example: CSV Restaurant Name Latitude Longitude

    Albert’s Downtown Gainesville 29.6521566 29.6521566 Albert’s Hunters Crossing 29.7014027 -82.3903569 Albert’s Butler Plaza 29.6222603 -82.3813747
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    • GDAL (Geospatial Data Abstraction Library - https:// •

    Ogr2ogr ( • brew install gdal • Can convert between all geospatial file formats, and even query properties of one with a SQL-like syntax CONVERTING FILE FORMATS
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    • Data stored as binary; convert binary to text using

    ST_* methods • ST_AsText(some geometry field or content in here) • Humans are bad at reading binary, turns out ! GEOMETRY-TO-TEXT CONVERSION
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    • Get familiar with DB!::Raw • Query!::orderByRaw,

    • Restaurant!::selectRaw(‘Spatial Stuff’)
 !->whereRaw(‘Spatial stuff’)
 !->orderByRaw(‘other Spatial Stuff’)
 !->get(); QUERY BUILDER
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    • 300,000 records = lots of 500 errors • Load

    subset instead… but which subset? Listen to map boundary changes. LISTEN ON MOVE/ZOOM
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    • Each data point lookup needs to be fast •

    Embed less data; look up data when they click the point • Simpler initial list: • [{lat: 1, long: 2, name: ‘abc’}, {}, {}] MORE DATA ON POPUP
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    • Laravel friends GeoCodio: • Google Maps Platform:

    documentation/ • MySQL spatial types documentation: refman/5.7/en/spatial-type-overview.html • Similar work with Algolia: geo-search-with-laravel-scout-and-algolia • Intro tutorial: started-with-geospatial-data-in-laravel-94502dc74d55 LINKS