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Wed Oct 1 13:15:08 2014

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QGIS Planet

How to quickly transform a bounding box from one CRS to another using QGIS

Today I needed to convert a bounding box for a tilemill project that I want to bring into QGIS as a tile layer (more on that in a future post if I get it to work…).  I needed to convert a bounding box from EPSG:4326 (‘Geographic’) coordinates to EPSG:3857 (Spherical Mercator). Fortunately it is a fairly trivial process if you don’t mind writing a few lines of python in the QGIS python console:

box = QgsRectangle(-19.6875,-37.9962,59.0625,37.4400)
source_crs = QgsCoordinateReferenceSystem(4326)
dest_crs = QgsCoordinateReferenceSystem(3857)
transform = QgsCoordinateTransform(source_crs, dest_crs)
new_box = transform.transformBoundingBox(box)
new_box.toString()
u'-2191602.4749925746582448,-4578889.0142234507948160 : 6574807.4249777207151055,4500615.8633687794208527'

 

It really is quite trivial to do arbitrary once-off things in QGIS if you roll up your sleeves and get to grips with the python API!

Training courses calendar: QGIS (Desktop, Server and Web) and PostGIS

We just published our Training Courses calendar for the period September 2014 – January 2015. This includes training courses about QGIS (Desktop, Server and Web) and PostgreSQL/PostGIS in both Italy and Portugal. Training courses about QGIS python programming are available on demand. For details (locations, prices, discounts, etc.) about training courses in Portugal see: http://www.faunalia.eu/pt/training.html […]

Visualizing direction-dependent values

When mapping flows or other values which relate to a certain direction, styling these layers gets interesting. I faced the same challenge when mapping direction-dependent error values. Neighboring cell pairs were connected by two lines, one in each direction, with an associated error value. This is what I came up with:

srtm_errors_1200px

Each line is drawn with an offset to the right. The size of the offset depends on the width of the line which in turn depends on the size of the error. You can see the data-defined style properties here:

directed_error_style

To indicate the direction, I added a marker line with one > marker at the center. This marker line also got assigned the same offset to match the colored line bellow. I’m quite happy with how these turned out and would love to hear about your approaches to this issue.

srtm_errors_detail

These figures are part of a recent publication with my AIT colleagues: A. Graser, J. Asamer, M. Dragaschnig: “How to Reduce Range Anxiety? The Impact of Digital Elevation Model Quality on Energy Estimates for Electric Vehicles” (2014).


Running QGIS desktop in a docker container

I love using docker – I have been tracking and learning docker since soon after it was announced and believe it is going to be a real game changer. I’ve been playing around with the different things one can do in a docker container and of course it is only natural that a ‘QGIS guy’ such as myself would start to think about using docker with QGIS. QGIS server in a docker container seems like a natural fit, but how about QGIS Desktop? Last night Richard Duivenvoorde and I were sitting around drinking tea and we thought we would give it a quick go – in fact it only took about half an hour to get something working….

 

Demo

 

Why?

I guess the first think you may ask is “why would you want to put QGIS desktop in a docker container?”. Well there are actually quite a few good reasons – here is a quick brain dump of reasons why you might want to run QGIS in a docker container:

  • Application sandboxing – keeping QGIS in a docker container means that you can keep it away from your other applications and data and frugally let it use only the resources you choose to. This is a general principle that can apply to any application you run on your desktop.
  • Capitalise on Ubuntu packages on a different host – if you are running CentOS or Arch or some other architecture, you may want to take advantage of the Ubuntu and Ubuntugis packages without trading out your entire OS. Now you can!
  • Running multiple versions of QGIS side by side – I already do this by using some little bash scripts that set paths and do magic before starting QGIS. Docker provides an alternative approach to this where each QGIS version can be in it’s own container.
  • Running different QGIS profiles – Perhaps you want to set up a profile where you have plugins x,y,z available and another where you have plugins a,b,c enabled – you could just create different docker images and launch a container based on the one that you want.
  • Known good deployment  – Setting up a linux with all the little bits and pieces needed to fully use QGIS takes some work and is vulnerable to breaking if you upgrade your OS. If you keep all that work in a docker image, the image will be unaffected by changes on the host system and you can do focussed updates to the image as needed. You can also do this one, publish the container and easily push it to your users in an enterprise environment.
  • Sharing a well integrated QGIS package – I have no love for Windows, but I must say that windows users have it good with the OSGEO4W and standalone installers for QGIS. With docker we could do something similar, where we create a well configured docker image and share it for the world to use…no more fiddling about trying to get stuff to run, just get the latest docker build and run QGIS with confidence knowing everything is set up for you.
  • Testing stuff – Testing is nice when you do it with a clean environment. With docker you can destroy and recreate the container each time you run it, reverting it to a clean state each time.

There are probably a bunch of other good reasons to play with this approach, but the above may be enough to get you curious and play…

Before I show you how to set things up, I should mention there are also some possible downsides:

  • Extra complications – adding docker into your mix is one thing you need to learn and understand – although the approach I show here requires only the most rudimentary understanding.
  • Statelessness – the statelessness of the container needs some extra steps to deal with. e.g. if you install a plugin and then shut down QGIS, when you start it again, it will be gone. Fear note docker volumes allow us to add state.
  • Overhead – Some may argue that running QGIS in a docker container is going to add overhead, making QGIS slower to run. Honestly in my testing I could not notice any difference.

Setting up

Before you can start you need to do a bit of setup and also note that my scripts provided make a few assumptions – you may wish to edit them to meet your needs. First you need to have docker installed on your OS. Under Ubuntu 14.04 you can simply do:

sudo apt-get install docker.io

Next you need to have my Dockerfile ‘recipe’ for building the docker image. It is available on our github repository (patches and improvements welcome!)

sudo apt-get install git
git clone git://github.com/kartoza/docker-qgis-desktop

Now go into the cloned repository and build the image:

cd docker-qgis-desktop
 ./build.sh

Its going to take a little while to build. After it is done, you should have:

  • a new docker image called kartoza/qgis-desktop in your docker images list
  • a launching script in your ~/bin directory
  • a line added to you ~/.bashrc that adds ~/bin to your path
  • A .desktop shortcut file added to ~/.local/share/application

Now reload your desktop (e.g. log out and in again) and look in your applications menu. You should find a new entry called ‘QGIS 2.in Docker’. Click on it and QGIS should launch.

What happens when I click that icon?

When you click the icon, a little script runs that starts up a new docker container, mounts your home directory into it and starts QGIS, sending its windows back to your deskop. Its all pretty seamless and feels like you are just running a locally installed application.

There are still some gotchas here since this is the first version of our script:

  • QGIS runs as root in the docker container which means its probably going to screw up the file permissions of any new file you create.
  • To get the QGIS window to display on your desktop I am using xhost + which some folks might not like
  • Your home folder is mounted into the container, but you won’t be able to see other files elsewhere on the host operating system

What’s next?

Currently we have QGIS 2.4 running in the container. We are going to work on providing the most polished installation possible inside the container. That means adding support for OrpheoToolBox (already added), SAGA, GRASS, MMQGIS, MrSid, ECW, ESRI FGDB etc. etc. that the docker container works ‘batteries included’ out of the box. If you would like to contribute, please consider forking our repo and submitting a pull request!

 

Installing PySAL for OSGeo4W

Today’s post is a summary of how to install PySAL on Windows for OSGeo4W Python.

The most important resource was https://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/wiki/ExternalPythonPackages

In the OSGeo4W Shell run:

C:\Users\anita_000\Desktop>curl http://python-distribute.org/distribute_setup.py | python

Then download https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pypa/pip/master/contrib/get-pip.py to the Desktop and run:

C:\Users\anita_000\Desktop>python get-pip.py

When pip is ready, install PySAL:

C:\Users\anita_000\Desktop>pip install pysal

Test the installation:

C:\Users\anita_000\Desktop>python
Python 2.7.5 (default, May 15 2013, 22:44:16) [MSC v.1500 64 bit (AMD64)] on win 32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import pysal

OSM Toner style town labels explained

The point table of the Spatialite database created from OSM north-eastern Austria contains more than 500,000 points. This post shows how the style works which – when applied to the point layer – wil make sure that only towns and (when zoomed in) villages will be marked and labeled.

Screenshot 2014-07-12 12.30.21

In the attribute table, we can see that there are two tags which provide context for populated places: the place and the population tag. The place tag has it’s own column created by ogr2ogr when converting from OSM to Spatialite. The population tag on the other hand is listed in the other_tags column.

Screenshot 2014-07-12 13.00.15

for example

"opengeodb:lat"=>"47.5000237","opengeodb:lon"=>"16.0334769","population"=>"623"

Overview maps would be much too crowded if we simply labeled all cities and towns. Therefore, it is necessary to filter towns based on their population and only label the bigger ones. I used limits of 5,000 and 10,000 inhabitants depending on the scale.

Screenshot 2014-07-12 12.56.33

At the core of these rules is an expression which extracts the population value from the other_tags attribute: The strpos() function is used to locate the text "population"=>" within the string attribute value. The population value is then extracted using the left() function to get the characters between "population"=>" and the next occurrence of ". This value can ten be cast to integer using toint() and then compared to the population limit:

5000 < toint( 
   left (
      substr(
         "other_tags",
         strpos("other_tags" ,'"population"=>"')+16,
         8
      ),
      strpos(
         substr(
            "other_tags",
            strpos("other_tags" ,'"population"=>"')+16,
            8
         ),
        '"'
      )
   )
) 

There is also one additional detail concerning label placement in this style: When zoomed in closer than 1:400,000 the labels are placed on top of the points but when zoomed out further, the labels are put right of the point symbol. This is controlled using a scale-based expression in the label placement:

Screenshot 2014-07-12 13.32.47

As usual, you can find the style on Github: https://github.com/anitagraser/QGIS-resources/blob/master/qgis2/osm_spatialite/osm_spatialite_tonerlite_point.qml


Multiple map grids in the QGIS print composer

In printed maps, having several coordinate grids over one map is a very usefull feature. For instance using a meter system as output CRS, it is nice to display a latitude / longitude grid as well. Until now, the QGIS print composer allowed only one coordinate grid per composer map and it was restricted to the map output CRS.

Having that multigrid / multiCRS feature in QGIS Enterprise since 13.04 already, I’ve recently found the time to port it into the QGIS developer version. Therefore it will be part of the upcoming version 2.6 in October. The screenshot below shows how it can be used to add a wgs84 grid onto a meter map. In the composermap widget, grids can be added / removed and reordered. Additionally there is now a CRS selection button to select the coordinate system for the grid. The development of this feature has been kindly funded by Canton of Solothurn (Switzerland).

Using QGIS processing scripts

One of the area’s that QGIS is constantly improving is the ‘Processing framework’, Formerly known as the sextante framework and written in java, it is rewritten in Python by one of the original authors Victor Olaya and made part of QGIS since about QGIS 2.0. I think it is VERY usefull and in use a […]

QGIS Layer Tree API (Part 1)

This blog post will be about the QGIS component responsible for showing the list of layers. In the QGIS project we typically call this component the “legend widget”. People used to other GIS software may also use other names such as “table of contents (ToC)”.

Layers in the legend widget can be organised into groups. This grouping allows easier manipulation of layers. For example it is possible to toggle the visibility of all layers at once. In addition to layers, groups can also contain other groups, effectively creating a hierarchy of groups and layers. From now on, we will refer to this hierarchy as the layer tree.

The legend widget might look like this:

QGIS Legend Widget

Until QGIS 2.4, there has been only limited support for interacting with the legend widget using the QGIS API. There is a QgsLegendInterface class (which can be obtained with iface.legendInterface()) available for plugins. The legend interface has emerged in an ad-hoc way, leading to various issues when used in plugins. It is also worth noting that third-party applications based on QGIS have no access to the legend interface.

Layer Tree API

The layer tree API has been introduced in QGIS 2.4 to overcome these existing problems and add even more flexibility to the way the layer tree can be queried or modified.

The layer tree is a classical tree structure built of nodes. There are currently two types of nodes: group nodes and layer nodes. Group nodes can contain other (child) nodes, while layer nodes are ‘leaves’ of the tree, without any child nodes. The layer tree for the legend widget shown in the picture above looks like this:

Layer Tree Structure

The green nodes are group nodes (QgsLayerTreeGroup class) and the yellow nodes are layer nodes (QgsLayerTreeLayer class).

The legend widget also displays items using symbols, making it look like a real legend. The symbology is not part of the layer tree and will be discussed in an upcoming post.

To start working with the layer tree, we first need a reference to its root node. The project’s layer tree can be accessed easily:

root = QgsProject.instance().layerTreeRoot()

The root node is a group node – its children are shown as top-level items in the legend widget.

print root
print root.children()

This returns a list of the children of a node. The list includes only direct children – children of sub-groups need to be queried directly from those sub-groups.

Now let’s try to access the first child node in the tree and do a little bit of introspection:

child0 = root.children()[0]
print child0
print type(child0)
print isinstance(child0, QgsLayerTreeLayer)
print child0.parent()

With the children() and parent() methods it is possible to traverse the layer tree. A node is the root node of a tree if it has no parent:

print root.parent()

The following example shows how to list top-level items of the layer tree. For group nodes it will print the group name, for layer nodes it will print the layer name and ID.

for child in root.children():
  if isinstance(child, QgsLayerTreeGroup):
    print "- group: " + child.name()
  elif isinstance(child, QgsLayerTreeLayer):
    print "- layer: " child.layerName() + "  ID: " + child.layerId()

In order to traverse the full layer tree, it would be necessary to recursively call the same code for sub-groups.

There are some helper routines for common tasks like finding nodes representing layers in the tree. These take into account all descendants, not just top-level nodes.

ids = root.findLayerIds()
print ids
print root.findLayers()
print root.findLayer(ids[0])

It is assumed that a single layer is represented in a layer tree only once. There may however be temporary situations when a layer is represented by more than one node, for example when moving nodes (a new node is created before the old one is removed shortly after).

Similarly it is possible to search for group nodes by name:

print root.findGroup("POI")

Group names are not necessarily unique – if there are multiple groups with the same name, the first encountered during tree traversal will be returned.

Summary

In this blog post we have shown how to query the project’s layer tree. Upcoming blog entries will focus on modifying the layer tree and interacting with other parts of QGIS.

QGIS Layer Tree API (Part 1)

This blog post will be about the QGIS component responsible for showing the list of layers. In the QGIS project we typically call this component the “legend widget”. People used to other GIS software may also use other names such as “table of contents (ToC)”.

Layers in the legend widget can be organised into groups. This grouping allows easier manipulation of layers. For example it is possible to toggle the visibility of all layers at once. In addition to layers, groups can also contain other groups, effectively creating a hierarchy of groups and layers. From now on, we will refer to this hierarchy as the layer tree.

The legend widget might look like this:

QGIS Legend Widget

Until QGIS 2.4, there has been only limited support for interacting with the legend widget using the QGIS API. There is a QgsLegendInterface class (which can be obtained with iface.legendInterface()) available for plugins. The legend interface has emerged in an ad-hoc way, leading to various issues when used in plugins. It is also worth noting that third-party applications based on QGIS have no access to the legend interface.

Layer Tree API

The layer tree API has been introduced in QGIS 2.4 to overcome these existing problems and add even more flexibility to the way the layer tree can be queried or modified.

The layer tree is a classical tree structure built of nodes. There are currently two types of nodes: group nodes and layer nodes. Group nodes can contain other (child) nodes, while layer nodes are ‘leaves’ of the tree, without any child nodes. The layer tree for the legend widget shown in the picture above looks like this:

Layer Tree Structure

The green nodes are group nodes (QgsLayerTreeGroup class) and the yellow nodes are layer nodes (QgsLayerTreeLayer class).

The legend widget also displays items using symbols, making it look like a real legend. The symbology is not part of the layer tree and will be discussed in an upcoming post.

To start working with the layer tree, we first need a reference to its root node. The project’s layer tree can be accessed easily:

root = QgsProject.instance().layerTreeRoot()

The root node is a group node – its children are shown as top-level items in the legend widget.

print root
print root.children()

This returns a list of the children of a node. The list includes only direct children – children of sub-groups need to be queried directly from those sub-groups.

Now let’s try to access the first child node in the tree and do a little bit of introspection:

child0 = root.children()[0]
print child0
print type(child0)
print isinstance(child0, QgsLayerTreeLayer)
print child0.parent()

With the children() and parent() methods it is possible to traverse the layer tree. A node is the root node of a tree if it has no parent:

print root.parent()

The following example shows how to list top-level items of the layer tree. For group nodes it will print the group name, for layer nodes it will print the layer name and ID.

for child in root.children():
  if isinstance(child, QgsLayerTreeGroup):
    print "- group: " + child.name()
  elif isinstance(child, QgsLayerTreeLayer):
    print "- layer: " child.layerName() + "  ID: " + child.layerId()

In order to traverse the full layer tree, it would be necessary to recursively call the same code for sub-groups.

There are some helper routines for common tasks like finding nodes representing layers in the tree. These take into account all descendants, not just top-level nodes.

ids = root.findLayerIds()
print ids
print root.findLayers()
print root.findLayer(ids[0])

It is assumed that a single layer is represented in a layer tree only once. There may however be temporary situations when a layer is represented by more than one node, for example when moving nodes (a new node is created before the old one is removed shortly after).

Similarly it is possible to search for group nodes by name:

print root.findGroup("POI")

Group names are not necessarily unique – if there are multiple groups with the same name, the first encountered during tree traversal will be returned.

Summary

In this blog post we have shown how to query the project’s layer tree. Upcoming blog entries will focus on modifying the layer tree and interacting with other parts of QGIS.

QGIS – Mapping Election Results, pt 2: Adding and overlaying the data in QGIS

Continuing on from the previous tutorial:-

Return to QGIS. Add the westminster_const_region.shp file if necessary

  1. Press the Add Delimitated Text file button, and select the .csv export of the cleansed electoral data
  2. The two options I changed from the default settings are:-
  • First record contains field names
  • No geometry (attribute only table)
QGIS - Create layer from text file

QGIS – Create layer from text file

Step 3 – Joining the data

Joining the polygons in westminster_const_region.shp to the data imported from the Results_Cleansed spreadsheet will allow the data to be presented in a spatial and visual format which will be much easier to interpret, allow for spatial analysis and also give the viewer an idea of the geographic spread. Using QGIS’ Join function will hopefully save a lot of copying and pasting!

Right click on westminster_const_region.shp and select Properties to open the Properties dialog

  • Select the Joins button from the left panel
  • Join Layer – the layer that you want to join to
  • Join Field – the field that you want to join to
  • Target Field – the field in this layer that contains the matching data
QGIS - Add vector layer

QGIS – Add vector layer

The join will now appear in the layer’s Joins list:-

QGIS layer properties

QGIS layer properties

The attribute table will now show the combined  data for both layers:-

QGIS attribute table

QGIS attribute table

This data can now be used to create a thematic map that colours each constituency according to party that won the seat in 2010.

I won’t go through all the steps of creating a thematic map as an earlier tutorial does this.

I’ve used the same colours that the different parties in the UK use:-

QGIS Layer properties

QGIS Layer properties

The thematic map shows the results across the entire UK. It is easy to identify patterns in the result, for example

  • The Liberal Democrats mostly won seats in Scotland, the North East, Wales and South West.
  • There is strong Labour support in South West Scotland, North West England, West Midlands, South Wales, London, Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The Conservative support covers much of the rest of England, especially South East England, excluding London.
2010 election results map

2010 election results map


Using a GPS dongle with QGIS (Linux)

Because I had this GPS dongle laying on my table, I figured I had to find out how to connect this via usb or bluetooth to my Debian Laptop so I could use it with QGIS. Read the full article here www.zuidt.nl.

Shapeburst fill styles in QGIS 2.4

With QGIS 2.4 getting closer (only a few weeks away now) I’d like to take some time to explore an exciting new feature which will be available in the upcoming release… shapeburst fills!

As a bit of background, QGIS 2.2 introduced a gradient fill style for polygons, which included linear, radial and conical gradients. While this was a nice feature, it was missing the much-requested ability to create so-called “buffered” gradient fills. If you’re not familiar with buffered gradients, a great example is the subtle shading of water bodies in the latest incarnation of Google maps. ArcGIS users will also be familiar with the type of effects possible using buffered gradients.

Gradient fills on water bodies in Google maps

Gradient fills on water bodies in Google maps

Implementing buffered gradients in QGIS originally started as a bit of a challenge to myself. I wanted to see if it was possible to create these fill effects without a major impact on the rendering speed of a layer. Turns out you can… well, you can get pretty close anyway. (QGIS 2.4’s new multi-threaded responsive rendering helps a lot here too).

So, without further delay, let’s dive into how shapeburst fills work in QGIS 2.4! (I’ve named this fill effect ‘shapeburst fills’, since that’s what GIMP calls it and it sounds much cooler than ‘buffered gradients’!)

Basic shapeburst fills

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this fill effect, a shapeburst fill is created by shading each pixel in the interior of a polygon by its distance to the closest edge. Here’s how a lake feature polygon looks in QGIS 2.4 with a shapeburst from a dark blue to a lighter blue colour:

A simple shapeburst fill from a dark blue to a lighter blue

A simple shapeburst fill from a dark blue to a lighter blue

You can see in the image above that both polygons are shaded with the dark blue colour at their outer boundaries through to the lighter blue at their centres. The screenshot below shows the symbol settings used to create this particular fill:

A simple shapeburst fill from a dark blue to a lighter blue

Creating a simple shapeburst fill from a dark blue to a lighter blue

Here we’ve used the ‘Two color‘ option, and chosen our shades of blue manually. You can also use the ‘Color ramp’ option, which allows shading using a complex gradient containing multi stops and alpha channels. In the image below I’ve created a red to yellow to transparent colour ramp for the shapeburst:

Colour ramp shapeburst with alpha channels

Colour ramp shapeburst with alpha channels

Controlling shading distance

In the above examples the shapeburst fill has been drawn using the whole interior of the polygon. If desired, you can change this behaviour and instead only shade to a set distance from the polygon edge. Let’s take the blue shapeburst from the first example above and set it to shade to a distance of 5 mm from the edge:

Shapeburst fills can shade to a set distance only

Shapeburst fills can also shade to a set distance from the polygon’s exterior

This distance can either be set in millimetres, so that it stays constant regardless of the map’s scale, or in map units, so that it scales along with the map. Here’s what our lake looks like shaded to a 5 millimetre distance:

Shading to 5mm from the lake's edge

Shading to 5mm from the lake’s edge

Let’s zoom in on a portion of this shape and see the result. Note how the shaded distance remains the same even though we’ve increased the scale:

Zooming in maintains a constant shaded distance

Zooming in maintains a constant shaded distance

Smoothing shapeburst fills

A pure buffered gradient fill can sometimes show an odd optical effect which gives it an undesirable ‘spiny’ look for certain polygons. This is most strongly visible when using two highly contrasting colours for the fill. Note the white lines which appear to branch toward the polygon’s exterior in the image below:

Spiny artefacts on a pure buffered gradient fill

Spiny artefacts on a pure buffered gradient fill

To overcome this effect, QGIS 2.4 offers the option to blur the results of a shapeburst fill:

Blur option for shapeburst fills

Blur option for shapeburst fills

Cranking up the blur helps smooth out these spines and results in a nicer fill:

Adding a blur to the shapeburst fill

Adding a blur to the shapeburst fill

Ignoring interior rings

Another option you can control for shapeburst fills is whether interior polygon rings should be ignored. This option is useful for shading water bodies to give the illusion of depth. In this case you may not want islands in the polygon to affect their surrounding water ‘depth’. So, checking the ‘Ignore rings in polygons while shading‘ option results in this fill:

Ignoring interior rings while shading

Ignoring interior rings while shading

Compare this image with the first image posted above, and note how the shading differs around the small island on the polygon’s left.

Some extra bonuses…

There’s two final killer features with shapeburst fills I’d like to highlight. First, every parameter for the fill can be controlled via data defined expressions. This means every feature in your layer could have a different start and end colour, distance to shade, or blur strength, and these could be controlled directly from the attributes of the features themselves! Here’s a quick and dirty example using a random colour expression to create a basic ‘tint band‘ effect:

Using a data defined expression for random colours

Using a data defined expression for random colours

Last but not least, shapeburst fills also work nicely with QGIS 2.4’s new “inverted polygon” renderer. The inverted polygon renderer flips a normal fill’s behaviour so that it shades the area outside a polygon. If we combine this with a shapeburst fill from transparent to opaque white, we can achieve this kind of masking effect:

Creating a smooth exterior mask using the "inverted polygons" renderer

Creating a smooth exterior mask using the “inverted polygons” renderer

This technique plays nicely with atlas prints, so you can now smoothly fade out the areas outside of your coverage layer’s features for every page in your atlas print!

All this and more, coming your way in a few short weeks when QGIS 2.4 is officially released…

Toner-lite styles for QGIS

In my opinion, Stamen’s Toner-lite map is one of the best background maps to use together with colorful overlays. The only downsides of using it in QGIS are that the OpenLayers plugin can not provide the tiles at print resolution and that the projection is limited to Web Mercator. That’s why I’ve started to recreate the style for OSM Spatialite databases:

toner-lite

So far, there are styles for lines and polygons and they work quite well for the scale range between 1:1 and 1:250000. As always, you can download the styles from QGIS-resources on Github.


Getting Started With QGIS

QGIS is a Free and Open Source Software, developed by a growing community of individuals and organisations.

Installation

You can download the latest version of QGIS from here. On that page, you can find the appropriate QGIS installation package for your operating system.

If you are a MS Windows user, you have 2 options: the standalone installer or the OSGeo4W installer, each of which has its own strengths:

  • OSGeo4W Installer Strengths
    • Access to the "master" (development) version of QGIS which means you can make use of the latest (yesterday's) cutting-edge features
    • Access to QGIS-Server (which allows you to publish your maps through a Web Mapping Service)
  • Standalone Installer Strengths
    • Simplest method of installation

Starting QGIS

Once you finish installing QGIS, you can find its icon on your desktop and/or Start menu. Launch QGIS and wait for the application to start. If you're a MS Windows user, QGIS might take some time to start up for the first time but subsequent loads will be much faster.

QGIS Start page

Arranging tool-bars

QGIS features a number of tool-bars. You can move them around by clicking and dragging the vertical or horizental dotted bars separating the tool-bars (for example, the bar to the left of the help tool's icon in the image above).

Setting the Coordinate Reference System (CRS)

It is recommended to set the Coordinate Reference System (CRS) for your project before adding any data. CRS or SRS is a coordinate-based local, regional or global system used to locate geographical entities. Many CRSs are available and each is suited to a particular area of the globe. There is a comprehensive list of CRS codes available here. In this example, we will set the CRS to match the British National Grid coordinate reference system. The easiest way to search for a specific CRS is using its unique EPSG code. The EPSG code for British National Grid is 27700.

To set the CRS for your projects in QGIS, from the main menu, select Settings > Options. A new window will appear. Select CRS tab.

QGIS Options

CRS list

In the Search section, set Authority to "EPSG" and Search for to "ID". Type 27700 into the search box and click Find. Highlight the correct row in Coordinate Reference System section and click OK.

Adding data

GIS data is usually in either raster or vector format. QGIS supports a large number of GIS data formats through the GDAL/OGR library and other plugins. In the example below we will download and add some OS OpenData™ raster and vector datasets into QGIS.

Raster

Ordnance Survey released a number of OS OpenData raster datasets to the public under a very permissive license. You can download the data from here.

For this particular example, follow this link and browse to OS Street View®. Select SX from the map. Move towards the bottom of the page and click next. Fill in the required information and click continue. You should receive an email with a link to download osstvw_sx.zip (note: it is a 383.9 MB file - you can order a DVD instead if you have a slow internet connection). Once the download has finished, unzip the file. You should now have a new folder called OS Street View SX which contains 2 subfolders and a readme file.

Browse to Street View SX > data > georeferencing files > tfw. Select all the TFW files and move them to the Street View SX > data > sx folder. The TFW files contain georeferencing information describing the location of each TIF file.

In QGIS, from the main menu, select Layer > Add Raster Layer... and browse to the Street View SX > data > sx folder. Select sx99nw.tif, sx99ne.tif, sx99sw.tif and sx99se.tif. Click Open. You should now be able to see the raster tiles in the QGIS canvas and the Layers panel at the left side of the screen.

Raster files do not always contain CRS information. We can easily organise the layers and assign the correct CRS (EPSG:27700) with the help of groups. Create a new group by right-clicking on the blank space (not on the sx99 layers) in the Layers panel and selecting Add group. Set the name of the group to OS Street View. Next, move the sx99 layers into the new group by selecting them all and dragging them into the OS Street View group. Once all the sx99 layers are inside the OS Street View group, right-click on the group and select Set group CRS. A new dialog, similar to that seen in the Setting the CRS chapter will appear. Assign the British National Grid CRS (EPSG:27700) and click OK.

QGIS raster

Vector

Next, we'll bring some vector data into QGIS. Go to the OS OpenData Supply page and browse to OS VectorMap™ District (there are two OS VectorMap datasets on this page, for this example, ensure you select the vector version and not the raster version) and select SX from the map. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click next. Fill in the required information and click continue. Download vmdvec_sx.zip from the link you'll receive by email. Extract the contents of the ZIP file.

In QGIS, from the main menu, select Layer > Add Vector Layer... and browse to the OS VectorMap District (Vector) SX > data > SX. Select SX_Airport.shp, SX_RailwayTrack.shp and SX_Road.shp. Click Open. Click Open again.

To change the style of a vector layer, right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select Properties. In the Style tab of the Layer Properties dialog, you can define exactly how the layer should look.

QGIS vector

Other Data

Internet based mapping can also be brought into QGIS, for example, a plugin exists that allows OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing and Yahoo maps to be added to QGIS.

Web map services (WMS) are another source of mapping data. In the next we'll add a WMS layer provided by British Geological Survey to our map. Please read the BGS WMS Terms of use. Another example of WMS is Ordnance Survey's OS OnDemand service. If you have OS OnDemand license, you can follow the instructions on Ordnance Survey's website to add other useful WMS layers.

To add the BGS WMS, select Layer > Add WMS Layer... from the main menu. The Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog will appear. Click New.

wms add

Set the name to BGS and set the URL to the following:

http://maps.bgs.ac.uk/ArcGIS/services/BGS_Detailed_Geology/MapServer/WMS...

Click OK, and in the Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog, click Connect.

wms add layer

Select all the layers and click Add. Close the Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog. The BGS layer should become visible as you zoom-in to a scale of 1:50000 or closer. Alternatively, you can manually set the Scale in the status bar to 1:50000 and the BGS layer will appear.

wms BGS

Plugins

QGIS is written in a manner that makes it possible for anyone it extend its functionality through the use of plugins. As a result, there are many plugins available to the user, making QGIS highly modular and flexible.

Core plugins

Core plugins are plugins that are shipped with QGIS and can be optionally enabled through the QGIS Plugin Manager.  To access the QGIS Plugin Manager, from the main menu, Select Plugins > Manage Plugins...

qgis core plugins

Select the All tab and type OpenLayers Plugin into the Filter box. Select the plugin and click Install plugin. You should now be able to add OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing and Yahoo maps to your canvas using the Web > OpenLayers plugin menu.

qgis and OpenLayers

Further information

For further help using QGIS, you can always check the manual, user or developer mailing lists or QGIS forum.

If you'd like to master QGIS as quickly as possible, why not attend one of our training courses.

Troubleshooting

Installing OpenLayers Plugin

To install OpenLayers plugin, from the main menu, click Plugins > Manage and Install Plugins…. A new window will appear.

You should be able to search and install the OpenLayers plugin within your list.

Windows Installation

Although you can have different version of QGIS installed under Windows, it’s recommended to uninstall old versions before attempting to install new versions.

On rare occasions, some anti-virus software has been known to remove the qgis.exe and python.exe files from the installation folder. If you’re having problems running the QGIS shortcut, please ensure those 2 files exist in the installation folder.

If QGIS cannot find your Python folder, you may need to set the PYTHONPATH environment variable to your QGIS folder (\QGIS\apps\python).

Access to internet

To be able to access WMS, WFS and 3rd party plugins, you’ll need to have internet access. In the event that you’re behind a proxy server, you can enter the proxy server details in Settings > Options > Network:

qgis proxy

Getting Started With QGIS

QGIS is a Free and Open Source Software, developed by a growing community of individuals and organisations.

Installation

You can download the latest version of QGIS from here. On that page, you can find the appropriate QGIS installation package for your operating system.

If you are a MS Windows user, you have 2 options: the standalone installer or the OSGeo4W installer, each of which has its own strengths:

  • OSGeo4W Installer Strengths
    • Access to the "master" (development) version of QGIS which means you can make use of the latest (yesterday's) cutting-edge features
    • Access to QGIS-Server (which allows you to publish your maps through a Web Mapping Service)
  • Standalone Installer Strengths
    • Simplest method of installation

Starting QGIS

Once you finish installing QGIS, you can find its icon on your desktop and/or Start menu. Launch QGIS and wait for the application to start. If you're a MS Windows user, QGIS might take some time to start up for the first time but subsequent loads will be much faster.

QGIS Start page

Arranging tool-bars

QGIS features a number of tool-bars. You can move them around by clicking and dragging the vertical or horizental dotted bars separating the tool-bars (for example, the bar to the left of the help tool's icon in the image above).

Setting the Coordinate Reference System (CRS)

It is recommended to set the Coordinate Reference System (CRS) for your project before adding any data. CRS or SRS is a coordinate-based local, regional or global system used to locate geographical entities. Many CRSs are available and each is suited to a particular area of the globe. There is a comprehensive list of CRS codes available here. In this example, we will set the CRS to match the British National Grid coordinate reference system. The easiest way to search for a specific CRS is using its unique EPSG code. The EPSG code for British National Grid is 27700.

To set the CRS for your projects in QGIS, from the main menu, select Settings > Options. A new window will appear. Select CRS tab.

QGIS Options

CRS list

In the Search section, set Authority to "EPSG" and Search for to "ID". Type 27700 into the search box and click Find. Highlight the correct row in Coordinate Reference System section and click OK.

Adding data

GIS data is usually in either raster or vector format. QGIS supports a large number of GIS data formats through the GDAL/OGR library and other plugins. In the example below we will download and add some OS OpenData™ raster and vector datasets into QGIS.

Raster

Ordnance Survey released a number of OS OpenData raster datasets to the public under a very permissive license. You can download the data from here.

For this particular example, follow this link and browse to OS Street View®. Select SX from the map. Move towards the bottom of the page and click next. Fill in the required information and click continue. You should receive an email with a link to download osstvw_sx.zip (note: it is a 383.9 MB file - you can order a DVD instead if you have a slow internet connection). Once the download has finished, unzip the file. You should now have a new folder called OS Street View SX which contains 2 subfolders and a readme file.

Browse to Street View SX > data > georeferencing files > tfw. Select all the TFW files and move them to the Street View SX > data > sx folder. The TFW files contain georeferencing information describing the location of each TIF file.

In QGIS, from the main menu, select Layer > Add Raster Layer... and browse to the Street View SX > data > sx folder. Select sx99nw.tif, sx99ne.tif, sx99sw.tif and sx99se.tif. Click Open. You should now be able to see the raster tiles in the QGIS canvas and the Layers panel at the left side of the screen.

Raster files do not always contain CRS information. We can easily organise the layers and assign the correct CRS (EPSG:27700) with the help of groups. Create a new group by right-clicking on the blank space (not on the sx99 layers) in the Layers panel and selecting Add group. Set the name of the group to OS Street View. Next, move the sx99 layers into the new group by selecting them all and dragging them into the OS Street View group. Once all the sx99 layers are inside the OS Street View group, right-click on the group and select Set group CRS. A new dialog, similar to that seen in the Setting the CRS chapter will appear. Assign the British National Grid CRS (EPSG:27700) and click OK.

QGIS raster

Vector

Next, we'll bring some vector data into QGIS. Go to the OS OpenData Supply page and browse to OS VectorMap™ District (there are two OS VectorMap datasets on this page, for this example, ensure you select the vector version and not the raster version) and select SX from the map. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click next. Fill in the required information and click continue. Download vmdvec_sx.zip from the link you'll receive by email. Extract the contents of the ZIP file.

In QGIS, from the main menu, select Layer > Add Vector Layer... and browse to the OS VectorMap District (Vector) SX > data > SX. Select SX_Airport.shp, SX_RailwayTrack.shp and SX_Road.shp. Click Open. Click Open again.

To change the style of a vector layer, right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select Properties. In the Style tab of the Layer Properties dialog, you can define exactly how the layer should look.

QGIS vector

Other Data

Internet based mapping can also be brought into QGIS, for example, a plugin exists that allows OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing and Yahoo maps to be added to QGIS.

Web map services (WMS) are another source of mapping data. In the next we'll add a WMS layer provided by British Geological Survey to our map. Please read the BGS WMS Terms of use. Another example of WMS is Ordnance Survey's OS OnDemand service. If you have OS OnDemand license, you can follow the instructions on Ordnance Survey's website to add other useful WMS layers.

To add the BGS WMS, select Layer > Add WMS Layer... from the main menu. The Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog will appear. Click New.

wms add

Set the name to BGS and set the URL to the following:

http://maps.bgs.ac.uk/ArcGIS/services/BGS_Detailed_Geology/MapServer/WMS...

Click OK, and in the Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog, click Connect.

wms add layer

Select all the layers and click Add. Close the Add Layer(s) from a Server dialog. The BGS layer should become visible as you zoom-in to a scale of 1:50000 or closer. Alternatively, you can manually set the Scale in the status bar to 1:50000 and the BGS layer will appear.

wms BGS

Plugins

QGIS is written in a manner that makes it possible for anyone it extend its functionality through the use of plugins. As a result, there are many plugins available to the user, making QGIS highly modular and flexible.

Core plugins

Core plugins are plugins that are shipped with QGIS and can be optionally enabled through the QGIS Plugin Manager.  To access the QGIS Plugin Manager, from the main menu, Select Plugins > Manage Plugins...

qgis core plugins

Select the All tab and type OpenLayers Plugin into the Filter box. Select the plugin and click Install plugin. You should now be able to add OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing and Yahoo maps to your canvas using the Web > OpenLayers plugin menu.

qgis and OpenLayers

Further information

For further help using QGIS, you can always check the manual, user or developer mailing lists or QGIS forum.

If you'd like to master QGIS as quickly as possible, why not attend one of our training courses.

Troubleshooting

Installing OpenLayers Plugin

To install OpenLayers plugin, from the main menu, click Plugins > Manage and Install Plugins…. A new window will appear.

You should be able to search and install the OpenLayers plugin within your list.

Windows Installation

Although you can have different version of QGIS installed under Windows, it’s recommended to uninstall old versions before attempting to install new versions.

On rare occasions, some anti-virus software has been known to remove the qgis.exe and python.exe files from the installation folder. If you’re having problems running the QGIS shortcut, please ensure those 2 files exist in the installation folder.

If QGIS cannot find your Python folder, you may need to set the PYTHONPATH environment variable to your QGIS folder (\QGIS\apps\python).

Access to internet

To be able to access WMS, WFS and 3rd party plugins, you’ll need to have internet access. In the event that you’re behind a proxy server, you can enter the proxy server details in Settings > Options > Network:

qgis proxy

Packaging PostGIS dev releases with Docker

Packaging PostGIS dev releases with Docker

We recently added support for GML curves to PostGIS, which enables TinyOWS to deliver WFS requests with curve geometries. More on this in a later post. This enhancement is in the current PostGIS developement version (SVN master) and not released yet. To enable our customer testing this functionality, we had to build packages for their server environment which is Ubuntu Precise with UbuntuGIS repositories. After working with Linux LXC containers and it's predecessor VServer for years, Docker was a logical choice for a clean reproducible build environment.

Rebuilding a Debian package is usually quite easy:

apt-get build-dep <package>
apt-get source <package>
cd <packagedir>
#Make your changes
dch -i
dpkg-buildpackage

But getting build dependencies for PostGIS currently fails with libssl-dev conflicts, maybe because the dev packages got out of sync after the recent Heartblead updates. So the Dockerfile uses equivs to build a dummy package which satisfies the dependencies.

The command

docker run -v /tmp:/pkg sourcepole/postgis-svn-build-env sh -c 'cp /root/*postgis*.deb /pkg'

loads the Docker image with packages built from the latest SVN version of PostGIS in /root and copies the deb files from the containter into /tmp.

Now we're ready to install these packages on the Ubuntu server:

sudo dpkg -i /tmp/*postgis*.deb

Thats it. Feedback welcome!

@PirminKalberer

P.S.

If you happen to be a developer, then you may prefer running a cutting-edge version of PostGIS in a Docker container instead of building packages. Our colleagues from Oslandia just published how to do this.

„Geo For All“ - neue Technologien für eine Welt im Wandel

GEOSummit 2014, Bern

„Geo for all“ ist nicht nur das Motto der weltumspannenden ICA-OSGeo Lab Initiative zur Förderung der GIS-Ausbildung an Hochschulen, sondern steht allgemein für den immer breiteren Zugang zu professionellen GIS-Werkzeugen. Im Kartenbereich haben Produkte wie TileMill oder D3.js, sowie Dienste wie CartoDB, GeoCommons, usw. den Anwenderkreis weit über das klassische GIS-Fachbebiet hinaus erweitert. Im Vortrag werden einige herausragende Beispiele vorgestellt und deren Relevanz für die Fachwelt erläutert.

@PirminKalberer

Links:

QGIS Needs You! Help make QGIS 2.4 better

QGIS is now in feature freeze for the 2.4 release, that means no more features are going in and we need to focus on fixing any outstanding issues that are still hanging around before the release. 2.4 is going to be a good release, adding cool things like: multithreaded rendering; legend code refactor; colour blind previews; and a whole heaps of other cool stuff. We need your help finding and squashing bugs. This is where you come in.

Finding bugs

Grab the RC builds of QGIS from the downloads page. If you are on Windows I would recommand grabbing the OSGeo4W installer and installing the package called qgis-dev using the Advacned option. A new build will show up nighly and you can test the lastest version.

If you find a bug you need to log it at hub.qgis.org, if you don't we can't fix it. Don't post a tweet about it and hope that we pick it up because we may not, this happened recently and the person didn't file tickets when I asked them too and now it's forgotten.

We track everything at hub.qgis.org. We close tickets as we fix them so keep an eye out for ones that you open. Remember to always add as much information as possible, and answer questions if asked. We are aware that everyone is busy, as are we, however if you don't responed it can be hard to track down issues at times. It can take a bit of time to get used to what is a good or a bad ticket but it doesn't take long. Next time you see a bug file it at hub.qgis.org.

Squashing bugs

This is where the help really matters and is the best thing you can do for the project. If you're a developer and keen to try your hand at some bugfixing you can find the most important ones here.

Not a developer?

The next best thing you can do is fund some bug fixing. There are many ways to do this and this is the most effective way to get stuff done.

Your main options are:

  • Donation to the QGIS fund - we use some of this money to pay for bug fixing.
  • Hire a developer directly. This is a good way to go as it is focused development. You can find some of the devs here
  • Rob a bank and send the money to us - No!11! Don't do that.
  • Encourage your company - who maybe is now saving a lot of money - to sponser or hire a developer.
  • Run a user group and charge a small fee to donate to the project - minus costs of course.

It's not just code.

There is more to QGIS then code and some application at the other end. With each release comes other non developer work.

These things include:

  • Updating the manual
  • Updating translations
  • Helping with PR stuff like posters
  • Ticket clean up

If you're not in a position to help in the other areas of the project these things need love to so don't forget you can help here.

We love that QGIS is free, that it opens GIS to a whole range of people who would never have been able to use it. It's a great feeling. It's also a great feeling when others get invovled and help us along to make it better for everyone.

qgis2img - A QGIS render benchmarking tool and image renderer

qgis2img is a new tool that I created, in a bit of friendly competition with the boss, which I lost but we will not speak of that again, for benchmarking QGIS layer rendering. The goal is simple. Take a project file(s), or QLR file(s), render the output, time the results, and dump a summary. Simples. The tool does 3 passes by default to get the average but can do more. It's nothing fancy. Written in Python so it can be evolved quickly.

qgis2img will render each image by itself to give single timings then it will render the whole project as you see in QGIS.

It uses QGIS 2.4 (qgis-dev) in order to use the new rendering methods. I don't have any plans to port it to work with QGIS 2.2, however feel free to send a pull request.

The usage is pretty simple:

usage: qgis2img [-h] [--size SIZE] [--passes PASSES] [--types TYPES] file

Benchmark QGIS project file and layer loading times

positional arguments:
  file             Project file to load into QGIS

optional arguments:
  -h, --help       show this help message and exit
  --size SIZE      Image output size
  --passes PASSES  Number of render passes per layer
  --types TYPES    What to render. Options are layer|project, layer, or project.
                   layer|project will render all layers as the if the project
                   is open in QGIS.

with the results:

$ python.exe qgis2img parcels.qgs --passes 5
Project Loaded with: [u'PARCEL_region - Shp', u'PARCEL_region - Spatialite']
Rendering images with 5 passes
Layer: PARCEL_region - Shp      4.907 sec
Layer: PARCEL_region - Spatialite       3.66 sec
Layer: Project     5.3378 sec

Easy.

It will generate an image for each layer and the project:

qgis2img.png

You can find the project at https://github.com/DMS-Aus/qgis2img

Pull requests and ideas welcome

qgisbench

There is a tool called qgisbench in the QGIS source tree that does this kind of thing too, however:

  • It's in C++
  • We don't ship it
  • It's in C++
  • <3 Python
  • These things are good examples for others
  • Using the Python API in this ways lets me see gaps

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