Importing data with the IDRISI GDAL interface

September 28, 2015

For TerrSet users, GdalIdrisi has been revamped to make it much easier to use, especially if you need to import SubDatasets. Starting with TerrSet patch 18.0.10, released 9/21/15, there is a new interface for Gdalidrisi that makes it easy to select SubDatasets. You won't need to manually type in the subdataset name & you can import all of the bands in a particular subdataset at one time. If you have TerrSet and you need to use Gdalidrisi, update!



This post was updated on May 25, 2012

November 13, 2013 UPDATE: see the later thread from Clark Labs on November 13, 2013 below for updated installation instructions.

September 2015. For TerrSet users this post no longer applies. With version 18.10, the GDAL interface has been revised.


The IDRISI Selva and IDRISI Taiga software packages support the use the Third-Party importing utility GDAL through the module GDALIDRISI. To setup this module you will need to follow the steps outlined below:

First, the binary files must be downloaded and installed from OSGeo. These are the instructions for completing this:

  1. Download the OSGeo4W Installer from this website:
  2. Double-Click on the installer file, named osgeo4w-setup.exe.
  3. Select Express Desktop Install.  Click Next.
  4. Check only the box next to GDAL (uncheck all other boxes).  Click Next.
  5. The GDAL binaries will now be downloaded from the internet and installed.
  6. Once installation is finished, locate the installed files, you will need them in the next step. 
    • On Windows 7 and XP machines the file should be named OSGeo4W
    • On Windows Vista machines the file should be named OSGeo

To get GDAL up and running with the files that were installed in the above steps:

  1. Open IDRISI Taiga/Selva.
  2. Open the GDALIDRISI module (File > Import > GDALIDRISI).
  3. Select the Configure Tab.
  4. Set the GDAL bin parameter to the OSGeo4W\bin folder (or OSGeo\bin folder on Windows Vista machines).
  5. Set the GDAL data parameter to the OSGeo4W\share folder (or OSGeo\share folder on Windows Vista machines).
  6. For the GDAL plugin path folder, select the IDRISI Taiga or IDRISI Selva folder (usually located under C:\Program Files, or C:\Program Files (x86)).
  7. Check Debug Messages checkbox. 
  8. Set the Maximum memory cache to 100.

Now that you have the GDALIDRISI module set up, you can begin to import your data.  Below are two examples of how to import raster files into IDRISI using the GDALIDRISI module.

Importing GeoTIFF Files with GDALIDRISI

  1. Input dataset: browse to the tiff file and select it.
  2. Output dataset browse to the output folder and give the output name with the extension for example: outputimage1.rst
  3. Select output format: RST: IDRISI Raster A.1
  4. Output data type (optional): Byte or other format
  5. Select bands: 1
  6. Change 1 to 2 and 3 and 4… and so on to get all bands- must change output file name each time you import a new band for example outputimage1_band1.rst, outputimage1_band2.rst, outputimage1_band3.rst
  7. Other inputs are optional

Importing NetCDF Files with GDALIDRISI

Identifing subdatasets within the main NetCDF file:

  1. Select the gdalinfo Tab.
  2. For the Input dataset, navigate to your NetCDF file and select it.
  3. Click Run.
  4. The information on subdatasets and data contained within the NetCDF file should appear in the GDALIDRISI window. 

Importing a subdataset of a NetCDF file:

  1. In the gdalinfo Tab, choose the subdataset that you wish to import.
  2. Copy the entire path to the subdataset, including the “NETCDF:” portion.  It should include something like NETCDF:"C:\Files_To_Import\":fossil_flux
    1. Notice that the “SUBDATASET_x_NAME=” is not included. 
  3. Select the gdal_translate Tab.
  4. Paste the subdataset path into the Input dataset box.
  5. In the Output dataset box, navigate to the directory where you wish to save your file and give it a name.  Make sure to include the .rst extension on the end of your input file. 
  6. In Output format, select RST: Idrisi Raster A.1
  7. (OPTIONAL) If your subdataset contains multiple image files, in the Selected bands box, you can enter the number of the image file that you wish to import.
  8. Click Run.
  9. You should see the progress of your import in the GDALIDRISI window.  Once it is finished the imported file will be located in the directory where you told it to save. 
Have more questions? Submit a request


  • 0
    Nate Mietkiewicz

    Thank you for that wonderful explanation on how to import using OSGeo, it was very helpful and educational.  Taking this process one step further, is there any way to preform batch imports of NetCDF files using GDAL?  Thank you kindly,


  • 0
    Julia Lenhardt

    This is really helpful, thank you!


  • 0
    Clark Labs

    Update: Clark Labs compiles GDAL drivers for use with IDRISI. The latest version can be downloaded from our website at: We recommend the use of these drivers instead of OSGEO or other installations on the GDAL website. 

    Once downloaded and unzipped, reconfigure the GDAL configure tab to the new bin and data folders. Beginning with GDAL version 1.10, the plugin folder is no longer required when using the GDAL download from the Clark Labs website.  

    After downloading and unzipping the GDAL from the Clark Labs website, follow the steps below to configure the GDALIDRISI interface: 

    1. Open IDRISI.
    2. Open the GDALIDRISI module (File > Import > GDALIDRISI).
    3. Select the Configure Tab.
    4. Set the GDAL bin parameter to the bin folder location where you unzipped the GDAL files.
    5. Set the GDAL data parameter to the data folder location where you unzipped the GDAL files.

    Now that you have the GDALIDRISI module set up, you can begin to import your data. Below is an example of importing GeoTIFF files using the GDALIDRISI module.

    1. Select the GDAL_translate tab within GDAL.
    2. Type or browse to select your input dataset.
    3. Type or browse to the output dataset folder location and give an output filename with the .rst extension.
    4. Select output format: RST: IDRISI Raster A.1
    5. If you have multiple bands, specify the band number to import. As you import multiple bands, reset the output name.
    6. Other inputs are optional

    Note: You should not unzip to the existing GDAL folder in the IDRISI installation folder, unless you completely remove the subfolders under the GDAL folder. 


    Clark Labs

  • 0
    Clark Labs

    With the latest version of GDAL 1.10 available from our website, GDALIDRISI now supports all the formats listed in this GDAL document: All formats listed with a "yes" in the "Compiled by default" column of this document are now supported withing GDALIDRISI, inlcuding HDF5 and netCDf. 

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