Having an understanding of how the GeoTools library is structured is helpful for sorting out what jars you need for your application.

This page introduces you to the parts of the GeoTools library and how they fit together. By including only the jars you need you can select just the right amount of GeoTools for your next project.

GeoTools Library

The GeoTools library forms a software “stack” with each jar building on the ideas and concepts defined in the previous one.


Each layer of the “stack” is built on the ones below it:

  • To use Referencing you need gt-opengis, gt-referencing and gt-metadata
  • To use Data you need gt-main, jts, gt-opengis, gt-referencing, gt-opengis, gt-metadata

The maven tool can calculate the jars you need, please see the Eclipse or Netbeans quickstart for an example use.

Module Purpose
gt-render Implements of Java2D rendering engine to draw a map
gt-jdbc Implements for accessing spatial database
gt-main Implements for accessing spatial data
gt-xml Implements of common spatial XML formats
gt-cql Implements of Common Query Language for filters
gt-main Interfaces for working with spatial information. Implements filter, feature, etc…
jts Definition and implementation of Geometry
gt-coverage Implementation for accessing raster information
gt-referencing Implementation of co-ordinate location and transformation
gt-metadata Implementation of identification and description
gt-opengis Definition of interfaces for common spatial concepts

GeoTools Plugins

GeoTools offers plug-ins to support additional data formats, different coordinate reference system authorities and so on.

Module JAR Plugin
gt-jdbc gt-jdbc-db2 Geometry in DB2
  gt-jdbc-h2 Pure Java “H2” database
  gt-jdbc-mysql Geometry in MySQL
  gt-jdbc-oracle Oracle SDO Geometry
  gt-jdbc-postgis PostgreSQL extension PostGIS
  gt-jdbc-spatialite SQLite
  gt-jdbc-sqlserver SQL Server
gt-main gt-shape Shapefile read/write support
  gt-wfs WFS read/write support
  gt-arcsde Communicate with ArcSDE
gt-coverage gt-geotiff GeoTIFF raster format
  gt-arcgrid arcgrid format
  gt-mif MIF format
  gt-image JPG, PNG, TIFF formats
gt-referencing epsg-access . Official EPSG database in Access
  epsg-hsql Pure Java port of EPSG database
  epsg-wkt Lightweight copy of EPSG codes
  epsg-postgresql PostgreSQL port of EPSG database
  epsg-oracle Oracle port of EPSG database

Usually at least one plug-in is needed for each layer for GeoTools to do something. As an example every time you use the referencing module please make sure you have an EPSG plugin around (or the referencing module will not know that “EPSG:4326” is the world as we know it).

GeoTools Extensions

We have gone a bit further and implemented some interesting “extensions” on top of the GeoTools library. These extensions provide additional capabilities that are built on top of GeoTools using the spatial facilities of the library.


The extensions are independent of each other offering and may be of use in your application. Here is a brief listing of the extensions at the time of writing.

JAR Extension
gt-graph Work with graph and network traversals
gt-validation Quality assurance for spatial data
gt-wms Web Map Server client
gt-xsd Parsing/Encoding for common OGC schemas
gt-brewer Generation of styles using color brewer


To support the XML module in GeoTools we have bundled up several XML schemas in JAR form (to prevent needing to download them from the Internet each time they are needed). In addition these jars contain a generated Java data structure produced with the Eclipse Modeling Framework.

JAR Schema
net.opengis.ows open web services schema
net.opengis.wfs web feature service
net.opengis.wps web processing service schema
net.opengis.wcs web coverage service schema
net.opengis.wfs web feature service schema
org.w3.xlink XLink schema

These facilities are used by the XSD parser by way of a series of XSD plugins. These plugins indicating how to parse and encode additional content using Eclipse XSD library to parse XML schema documents and offer “bindings” showing how to parse and encode to Java classes such as String, Date, URL and Geometry.

JAR Bindings
gt-xsd-core Basic types defined by XML schema
gt-xsd-fes filter 2.0
gt-xsd-filter filter (used by OGC CAT and WFS)
gt-xsd-kml keyhole markup language
gt-xsd-wfs web feature service
gt-xsd-wps web processing service
gt-xsd-gml3 geographic markup language 3
gt-xsd-gml2 geographic markup language 2
gt-xsd-ows open web services
gt-xsd-wcs web coverage service
gt-xsd-wms web map service
gt-xsd-sld style layer descriptor

GeoTools Unsupported

There are also a number of “unsupported” plugins and extensions. These modules are not distributed by the project management committee as part of the GeoTools download, however they are available via maven or individual download.

Unsupported Purpose
gt-swt Standard widget toolkit interactive map
gt-swing Swing interactive map
gt-oracle retired oracle support
gt-postgis retired PostGIS support
gt-db2 retired db2 support
gt-wps Web Processing Service client
gt-process Job system for spatial data