Well-Known Binary (WKB) Format

The Well-Known Binary (WKB) representation for geometric values is defined by the OpenGIS specification. It is also defined in the ISO SQL/MM Part 3: Spatial standard.

WKB is used to exchange geometry data as binary streams represented by BLOB values containing geometric WKB information.

WKB uses one-byte unsigned integers, four-byte unsigned integers, and eight-byte double-precision numbers (IEEE 754 format). A byte is eight bits.

For example, a WKB value that corresponds to POINT(1 1) consists of this sequence of 21 bytes (each represented here by two hex digits):


The sequence may be broken down into these components:

Byte order : 01
WKB type   : 01000000
X          : 000000000000F03F
Y          : 000000000000F03F

Component representation is as follows:

  • The byte order may be either 1 or 0 to indicate little-endian or big-endian storage. The little-endian and big-endian byte orders are also known as Network Data Representation (NDR) and External Data Representation (XDR), respectively.

  • The WKB type is a code that indicates the geometry type. Values from 1 through 7 indicate Point, LineString, Polygon, MultiPoint, MultiLineString, MultiPolygon, and GeometryCollection.

  • A Point value has X and Y coordinates, each represented as a double-precision value.

WKB values for more complex geometry values are represented by more complex data structures, as detailed in the OpenGIS specification.

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