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Awesome Open Source


Fast sf-to-raster conversion

Project Status: Active – The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed. MIT Licensed - Copyright 2016 EcoHealth Alliance Linux Build Status Windows Build status Coverage Status CRAN RStudio mirror downloads

fasterize is a high-performance replacement for the rasterize() function in the raster package.

Functionality is currently limited to rasterizing polygons in sf-type data frames.


Install the current version of fasterize from CRAN:


Install the development version of fasterize with devtools:


fasterize uses Rcpp and thus requires a compile toolchain to install from source. Testing (and most use) requires sf, which requires GDAL (>= 2.0.0), GEOS (>= 3.3.0), and PROJ.4 (>= 4.8.0) to be installed on your system.


The main function, fasterize(), takes the same inputs as raster::rasterize() but currently has fewer options and is is limited to rasterizing polygons.

A method for creating empty rasters from sf objects is provided, and raster plot methods are re-exported.

p1 <- rbind(c(-180,-20), c(-140,55), c(10, 0), c(-140,-60), c(-180,-20))
hole <- rbind(c(-150,-20), c(-100,-10), c(-110,20), c(-150,-20))
p1 <- list(p1, hole)
p2 <- list(rbind(c(-10,0), c(140,60), c(160,0), c(140,-55), c(-10,0)))
p3 <- list(rbind(c(-125,0), c(0,60), c(40,5), c(15,-45), c(-125,0)))
pols <- st_sf(value = c(1,2,3),
             geometry = st_sfc(lapply(list(p1, p2, p3), st_polygon)))
r <- raster(pols, res = 1)
r <- fasterize(pols, r, field = "value", fun="sum")


Let's compare fasterize() to raster::rasterize():

pols_r <- as(pols, "Spatial")
bench <- microbenchmark::microbenchmark(
  rasterize = r <- raster::rasterize(pols_r, r, field = "value", fun="sum"),
  fasterize = f <- fasterize(pols, r, field = "value", fun="sum"),
  unit = "ms"
print(bench, digits = 3)
#> Unit: milliseconds
#>       expr     min      lq    mean  median      uq    max neval cld
#>  rasterize 342.486 379.028 426.959 404.759 434.029 859.01   100   b
#>  fasterize   0.337   0.368   0.499   0.413   0.636   2.02   100  a

How does fasterize() do on a large set of polygons? Here I download the IUCN shapefile for the ranges of all terrestrial mammals and generate a 1/6 degree world map of mammalian biodiversity by rasterizing all the layers.

if(!dir.exists("Mammals_Terrestrial")) {
    destfile = "") # <-- 383 MB
  unzip("", exdir = ".")
mammal_shapes <- st_read("Mammals_Terrestrial")
#> Reading layer `Mammals_Terrestrial' from data source `/Users/noamross/dropbox-eha/projects-eha/fasterize/Mammals_Terrestrial' using driver `ESRI Shapefile'
#> Simple feature collection with 42714 features and 27 fields
#> geometry type:  MULTIPOLYGON
#> dimension:      XY
#> bbox:           xmin: -180 ymin: -85.58276 xmax: 180 ymax: 89.99999
#> epsg (SRID):    4326
#> proj4string:    +proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs
mammal_raster <- raster(mammal_shapes, res = 1/6)
bench2 <- microbenchmark::microbenchmark(
  mammals = mammal_raster <- fasterize(mammal_shapes, mammal_raster, fun="sum"),
  times=20, unit = "s")
print(bench2, digits=3)
#> Unit: seconds
#>     expr   min    lq  mean median    uq   max neval
#>  mammals 0.847 0.857 0.883  0.886 0.894 0.963    20
plot(mammal_raster, axes=FALSE, box=FALSE)


fasterize is developed openly at EcoHealth Alliance under the USAID PREDICT project. Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.

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