I wanted to mention COG related enhancements (*) that I will work on in GDAL in the coming weeks, so interested parties are aware of them and can potentially react.
1) Creation of a dedicated COG creation-only driver simplifying the creation workflow. Currently, creating a COG involves a number of steps, using gdaladdo and gdal_translate with the right arguments. For very large COG files, invoking gdaladdo in an efficient way can be tricky (.ovr.ovr trick: https:// github.com/OSGeo/gdal/issues/1442). The driver will take care of creating needed temporary overviews.
2) The driver will offer integrated reprojection capabilities, and in particular a WebMercator/GoogleMapsCompatible tiling scheme profile (as defined in WMTS), so that TIFF tiles exactly match GoogleMapsCompatible ones. This will be similar to the corresponding option of GeoPackage. With a subtelty that due to how GeoTIFF overviews work, it is not possible to have this alignment on the tiling scheme for all zoom levels. So the user will define how many zoom levels starting from the full resolution image must be aligned (if N is the number of aligned levels, up to 2^N padding tiles in horizontal and vertical dimensions are needed for the full resolution image, so N should be kept reasonably small)
3) gdalwarp will be enhanced to allow output to drivers that have only CreateCopy() capabilities such as the COG driver. It will try to avoid materializing the intermediate file when possible by using VRT capabilities, otherwise it will have to create a temporary TIFF file before creating CreateCopy()
About point 1, 2, 3 I have mixed feeling because to me it seems that we will introduce a new driver to replace the combination of gdal commands (disclaimer as one of the creator of rio-cogeo I may not be fully objective here).
4) Optimizations specific to JPEG-compressed imagery (YCbCr color space) with a 1-bit transparency channel, to minimize the number of HTTP range requests needed to read them. As JPEG compression cannot include the transparency information, two TIFF IFD have to be created: one for YCbCr, and another one for alpha. Currently the COPY_SRC_OVERVIEWS=YES creation option of the GeoTIFF driver separates data for all the tiles of the color channels from data for all the tiles of the transparency channel. In practice, readers will generally want to access, for a same location, to data of both color and transparency channels. I will modify the writer to interleave blocks so that color and transparency information are contiguous. If COLOR_X_Y designates the tile with color information at coordinates X,Y (in tile coordinate space), the layout of data in the file will be: COLOR_0_0, TRANSPARENCY_0_0, COLOR_1_0, TRANSPARENCY_1_0, etc. The GeoTIFF driver will be improved to fetch together the color and transparency channel when such a layout is detected.
Why this is specific to JPEG compression, what about other compressed format with internal mask ?
A further improvement is to be able to avoid completely to read the TileByteCount array of the color channel, and the TileByteCount & TileOffset arrays of the transparency channel. The trick is to reserve 4 bytes before the start of each COLOR_X_Y tile to indicate its size (those bytes will be 'ghost', that is not in the range of data pointed by TileByCount&TileOffset). An optimized reader wanting to read tile i=Y*nb_tiles_in_width+X will start by reading the offsets of tile i and i+1: TileOffset_color[i] and TileOffset_color[i+1]. It will then seek to TileOffset_color[i] – 4 and read 4 + TileOffset_color[i+1] – TileOffset_color[i] bytes in a buffer. The first 4 bytes of this buffer will indicate the number of bytes of the color tile, and thus it is possible to deduce the offset and size of the mask tile that is located at the end of the buffer. A TIFF metadata item will be written to indicate that such layout has been used (with an indication of the file size so as to be able to detect if the file has been later be altered in a non- optimized way), so that optimized readers can adopt the above described behavior. This will require to extend the libtiff interface so that the user can directly provide the input buffer to decompress. As the file will remain fully TIFF/BIGTIFF compliant, non-optimized readers (such as newer GDAL builds against an older external libtiff version, or previous GDAL versions) will still be able read it, loading values from the 4 arrays instead of just one. Note: for other compressions types, a simpler version of the above optimization can still be done, by using TileOffset[i] and TileOffset[i+1], and saving the read of TileByteCount[i] To sum up, with the improvements of this task, once the initial loading of metadata has been done, a GDAL ReadBlock(x,y) request will cause only two networks range requests: one to read TileOffset[i] and TileOffset[i+1] (potentially already cached if neighboring tiles have been previously accessed in the same process), and another one to read the imagery (+mask) data. Whereas currently, 6 might be needed for JPEG YcbCr+mask.
5) Optimizing the layout of the header of a COG file
The current layout of the header part of COG file is: - TIFF / BigTIFF signature, followed by the offset of the first IFD (Image File Directory) - IFD of full resolution image, that is the list of the tags and their value when it consists of a single numeric value, followed by the offset of the next - IFD. Its size is 2 + number_of_tags * 12 + 4 (or 2 + number_of_tags * 20 + 8) bytes, so typically 200 bytes maximum - Values of TIFF tags that don't fit inline in the IFD directory, such as TileOffsets and TileByteCounts arrays and GeoTIFF keys - IFD of first overview (typically subsampled by a factor of 2) - Values of its tags that don't fit inline - ... -IFD of last overview - Values of its tags that don't fit inline
When the COG file is not too large, the fact of having the TileOffsets and TileByteCounts between IFD descriptors is not an issue since they are not too large, and most TIFF readers will load their values when opening the IFD. But for an optimized reader such as GDAL with internal libtiff support (or with external libtiff after the optimization of task 4), loading the values of the TileOffsets/TileByteCounts arrays is only needed when accessing imagery.
A more efficient layout for network access is : - TIFF / BigTIFF signature, followed by the offset of the first IFD - IFD of full resolution image, followed by the value of its non-inline tags, except TileOffsets/TileByteCounts - IFD of first overview followed by the value of its non-inline tags, except - TileOffsets/TileByteCounts - IFD of last overview followed by the value of its non-inline tags, except TileOffsets/TileByteCounts - Values of the TileOffsets/TileByteCounts arrays of IFD of full resolution image - Values of the TileOffsets/TileByteCounts arrays of IFD of first overview - ... - Values of the TileOffsets/TileByteCounts arrays of IFD of last overview
With such a structure, the initial reading of 16 KB at the start of the file will be able to load the IFD descriptors of all overviews (and masks, which are actually interleaved in between when present). So, combined together with task 4, a cold read of a tile at any zoom level (ie opening the file + tile request) could result in just 3 network range requests: one to get the IFD descriptors at the start of the file, one to read the location of the tile from the TileOffsets array and one to read the tile data. The proposed structure itself is still fully TIFF compliant. The script that validates the COG structure will be adapted to accept that new variant of the header structure.