Fast Raster Manipulation and Extraction

C++ accelerated raster manipulation and extraction.

Velox is an R package for performing fast extraction and manipulation operations on geographic raster data. velox is fast because all raster computations are performed in C++ (using the excellent Rcpp API), and all data is held in memory. velox is intended to be used together with the raster package, to which it provides a straightforward interface.

Currently, the following operations are implemented in velox:

  • Focal value calculation (i.e. moving window filters)
  • Raster value extraction given polygons, lines, or points
  • Rasterization of polygons or lines
  • Raster aggregation
  • Cropping
  • Image patch flattening (similar to Matlab's im2col) and reconstruction

The development of velox was funded in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation under COST action IS1107, SERI project C12.0087.


As of version velox is interoperable with the Simple Feature package. Other new features include a redesigned C++ backend based on the Boost Geometry library and extract and rasterize functions for linestring geometries. Please note that these improvements entail new dependencies (see below).


Travis-CI Build Status


Velox should work on all major operating systems (Linux, Mac OS, Windows).


Velox requires the rgdal, rgeos, and sf packages, which rely on the external GDAL (>= 2.0.0), GEOS (>= 3.3.0), PROJ.4 (>= 4.8.0), and UDUNITS libraries. On Debian/Ubuntu (>= 14.04), these dependencies can be installed by entering

sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libgdal-dev libproj-dev libgeos-dev libudunits2-dev

in a terminal.

R Package

Once the system dependencies are available, you can either install velox from CRAN


or you can install the development version using the install_github function from the devtools package:


Please note that this page refers to the development version of the package.


The following performance tests were peformed on a i7-6920HQ CPU @ 2.90GHz, using raster 2.5-8, PostgreSQL 9.5 and PostGIS 2.2. See here for the underlying R script.

Getting Started

Creating VeloxRaster Objects

VeloxRaster objects are created with the velox function:

## From GDAL readable raster file
vx1 <- velox("myraster.tif")
## From RasterLayer object
rl <- raster("myraster.tif")
vx2 <- velox(rl)
## From RasterStack object
rs <- stack("myraster.tif")
vx3 <- velox(rs)
## From matrix
mat <- matrix(1:100, 10, 10)
vx4 <- velox(mat, extent=c(0,1,0,1), res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
## From list of matrices <- list(matrix(1:100, 10, 10), matrix(100:1, 10, 10))
vx5 <- velox(, extent=c(0,1,0,1), res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
## From list of VeloxRasters <- list(vx4, vx5)
vx6 <- velox(

Manipulating VeloxRaster Objects

VeloxRaster objects are ReferenceClass objects and thus mutable:

## Crop VeloxRaster
mat <- matrix(1:100, 10, 10)
vx <- velox(mat, extent=c(0,1,0,1), res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
cropext <- c(0.3,0.7,0.3,0.7)
[1] 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.7

We can also aggregate a VeloxRaster...

## Aggregate VeloxRaster
mat <- matrix(1:100, 10, 10)
vx <- velox(mat, extent=c(0,1,0,1), res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
vx$aggregate(factor=c(2,2), aggtype="sum")

... or calculate focal values (i.e. apply a moving window filter):

## Apply filter to VeloxRaster
mat <- matrix(1:100, 10, 10)
vx <- velox(mat, extent=c(0,1,0,1), res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
vx$medianFocal(wrow=3, wcol=3, bands=1)

Extracting raster values given polygons

## Make VeloxRaster
mat <- matrix(1:100, 10, 10)
extent <- c(0,1,0,1)
vx <- velox(mat, extent=extent, res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
## Make SpatialPolygonsDataFrame
coords <- cbind(runif(10, extent[1], extent[2]), runif(10, extent[3], extent[4]))
sp <- SpatialPoints(coords)
spol <- gBuffer(sp, width=0.2, byid=TRUE)
spdf <- SpatialPolygonsDataFrame(spol, data.frame(id=1:length(spol)), FALSE)
## Extract values and calculate mean
ex.mat <- vx$extract(spdf, fun=mean)

Rasterizing polygons

## Make VeloxRaster
mat <- matrix(0, 10, 10)
extent <- c(0,1,0,1)
vx <- velox(mat, extent=extent, res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
## Make SpatialPolygonsDataFrame
coords <- cbind(runif(10, extent[1], extent[2]), runif(10, extent[3], extent[4]))
sp <- SpatialPoints(coords)
spol <- gBuffer(sp, width=0.05, byid=TRUE)
spdf <- SpatialPolygonsDataFrame(spol, data.frame(id=1:length(spol)), FALSE)
## Rasterize polygons using "id" column
vx$rasterize(spdf, field="id", band=1)

raster interface

## Make VeloxRaster with two bands
mat1 <- matrix(1, 10, 10)
mat2 <- matrix(2, 10, 10)
extent <- c(0,1,0,1)
vx <- velox(list(mat1, mat2), extent=extent, res=c(0.1,0.1), crs="+proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs")
## Cast band 1 as RasterLayer
rl <- vx$as.RasterLayer(band=1)
## Cast both bands as RasterStack
rs <- vx$as.RasterStack()
## Back to VeloxRaster
vx2 <- velox(rs)


Because most of velox's functionality comes in the form of VeloxRaster methods, accessing the help pages is performed as follows:

## See all methods of VeloxRaster
## See help for method 'extract'
## See help for method 'crop'
## etc...


velox 0.2.0

Second version.

Major changes

  • New C++ back-end based on the boost geometry library.

  • Polygon, linestring and point collections can be stored directly in C++ as BoostGeometries objects.

  • Implemented bg_intersects function for intersecting BoostGeometries objects.

  • Extraction and rasterize operations now accept sf objects.

  • Extraction and rasterize operations now accept line geometries.

  • The extract method now has a small argument similar to that of the raster::extract function.

  • The extract method now returns 'raw' raster values if argument fun is set to NULL (default).

  • The extract method now has a df boolean argument. If true, extract returns (a list of) data frames.

  • The velox function now accepts RasterBrick objects.

  • New as.RasterBrick method.

  • Added extract_points method.

Bug fixes

  • None

velox 0.1.0

First version.

Major changes

  • None

Bug fixes

  • None

Reference manual

It appears you don't have a PDF plugin for this browser. You can click here to download the reference manual.


0.2.0 by Philipp Hunziker, 2 years ago

Report a bug at

Browse source code at

Authors: Philipp Hunziker

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

GPL (>= 2) license

Imports methods, Rcpp, raster, rgeos, rgdal, sp, sf

Suggests testthat

Linking to Rcpp, BH

System requirements: C++11

Imported by GeNetIt, amt, spatialEco.

Suggested by ebirdst, prioritizr, uavRst.

See at CRAN