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Wed Jan 18 16:05:31 2017

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QGIS Planet

New style: conveyor belt flows

The QGIS map style I want to share with you today was inspired by a hand-drawn map by Philippe Rekacewicz that I saw on Twitter:

The look reminds me of conveyor belts, thus the name choice.

You can download the symbol and a small sample dataset by adding my repo to the QGIS Resource Sharing plugin.


The conveyor belt is a line symbol that makes extensive use of Geometry generators. One generator for the circle at the flow line start and end point, respectively, another generator for the belt, and a final one for the small arrows around the colored circles. The color and size of the circle are data defined:


The collection also contains a sample Geopackage dataset which you can use to test the symbol immediately. It is worth noting that the circle size has to be specified in layer CRS units.

It’s great fun playing with the power of Geometry generator symbol layers and QGIS geometry expressions. For example, this is the expression for the final geometry that is used to draw the small arrows around colored circles:

          buffer( start_point($geometry), "start_size" ),
          buffer( end_point($geometry), 500000 )
      buffer( start_point( $geometry), "start_size" )

The expression constructs buffer circles, the belt geometry (convex_hull around buffers), and finally extracts the intersecting part from the start circle and the belt geometry.

Hope you enjoy it!

It’s holiday season, why not share one of your own symbols with the QGIS community?

A guide to GoogleMaps-like maps with OSM in QGIS

Using OSM data in QGIS is a hot topic but so far, no best practices for downloading, preprocessing and styling the data have been established. There are many potential solutions with all their advantages and disadvantages. To give you a place to start, I thought I’d share a workflow which works for me to create maps like the following one from nothing but OSM:


Getting the data

Raw OSM files can be quite huge. That’s why it’s definitely preferable to download the compressed binary .pbf format instead of the XML .osm format.

As a download source, I’d recommend Geofabrik. The area in the example used in this post is part of the region Pays de la Loire, France.

Preparing the data for QGIS

In the preprocessing step, we will extract our area of interest and convert the .pbf into a spatialite database which can be used directly in QGIS.

This can be done in one step using ogr2ogr:

C:\Users\anita_000\Geodata\OSM_Noirmoutier>ogr2ogr -f "SQLite" -dsco SPATIALITE=YES -spat 2.59 46.58 -1.44 47.07 noirmoutier.db noirmoutier.pbf

where the -spat option controls the area of interest to be extracted.

When I first published this post, I suggested a two step approach. You can find it here for future reference:

For the first step: extracting the area of interest, we need Osmosis. (For Windows, you can get osmosis from Unpack to use. Requires Java.)

When you have Osmosis ready, we can extract the area of interest to the .osm format:

C:\Users\anita_000\Geodata\OSM_Noirmoutier>..\bin\osmosis.bat --read-pbf pays-de-la-loire-latest.osm.pbf --bounding-box left=-2.59 bottom=46.58 right=-1.44 top=47.07 --write-xml noirmoutier.osm

While QGIS can also load .osm files, I found that performance and access to attributes is much improved if the .osm file is converted to spatialite. Luckily, that’s easy using ogr2ogr:

C:\Users\anita_000\Geodata\OSM_Noirmoutier>ogr2ogr -f "SQLite" -dsco SPATIALITE=YES noirmoutier.db noirmoutier.osm

Finishing preprocessing in QGIS

In QGIS, we’ll want to load the points, lines, and multipolygons using Add SpatiaLite Layer:

Screenshot 2014-05-31 11.39.40

When we load the spatialite tables, there are a lot of features and some issues:

  • There is no land polygon. Instead, there are “coastline” line features.
  • Most river polygons are missing. Instead there are “riverbank” line features.

Screenshot 2014-05-31 11.59.58

Luckily, creating the missing river polygons is not a big deal:

  1. First, we need to select all the lines where waterway=riverbank.
    Screenshot 2014-05-31 13.14.00
  2. Then, we can use the Polygonize tool from the processing toolbox to automatically create polygons from the areas enclosed by the selected riverbank lines. (Note that Processing by default operates only on the selected features but this setting can be changed in the Processing settings.)
    Screenshot 2014-05-31 13.40.16

Creating the land polygon (or sea polygon if you prefer that for some reason) is a little more involved since most of the time the coastline will not be closed for the simple reason that we are often cutting a piece of land out of the main continent. Therefore, before we can use the Polygonize tools, we have to close the area. To do that, I suggest to first select the coastline using "other_tags" LIKE '%"natural"=>"coastline"%' and create a new layer from this selection (save selection as …) and edit it (don’t forget to enable snapping!) to add lines to close the area. Then polygonize.

Screenshot 2014-05-31 14.38.48

Styling the data

Now that all preprocessing is done, we can focus on the styling.

You can get the styles used in the map from my Github QGIS-resources repository:

  • osm_spatialite_googlemaps_multipolygon.qml … rule-based renderer incl. rules for: water, natural, residential areas and airports
  • osm_spatialite_googlemaps_lines.qml … rule-based renderer incl. rules for roads, rails, and rivers, as well as rules for labels
  • osm_spatialite_googlemaps_roadshields.qml … special label style for road shields
  • osm_spatialite_googlemaps_places.qml … label style for populated places such as cities and towns


SLD Support and other QGIS 1.8 Style Features

The upcoming 1.8 release contains many new features for handling layer styles.

Copy-paste Styles

Very handy new entries in the layer list context menu: “Copy Style” and “Paste Style” make copying layer styles really fast. You don’t even have to open layer properties anymore.

SLD Support

Besides the classic QML layer style files, QGIS 1.8 supports the SLD standard. SLDs can be exported from and imported into new symbology.

One thing worth to note: SLDs can be exported from any type of renderer: single symbol, categorized, graduated or rule-based, but when importing an SLD, either a single symbol or rule-based renderer is created.

That means that categorized or graduated styles are converted to rule-based. If you want to preserve those renderers, you have to stick to the QML format. On the other hand, it could be very handy sometimes to have this easy way of converting styles to rule-based.

Symbol Levels

If you are looking for the “Symbol level” settings, they have been moved to the “Advanced” button:

Rule-based Renderer

The rule-based renderer GUI got a major face-lift. Just compare the 1.7 version

Rule-based renderer GUI in 1.7

to the new clean 1.8 version:

Rule-based renderer in 1.8

Grouping of styles has been overhauled too: Using drag-and-drop, layers can be arranged into groups in a more flexible manner than previously possible.

There is also a new context menu which enables workflows such as changing the transparency of multiple symbols at once:

Symbol levels for the rule-based renderer can now be accessed via “Rendering order”.

It’s obvious that a lot of work has been put into style handling since the 1.7 release and these improvements are just a small fraction of what’s been done to get closer to the big goal: releasing 2.0.

New Download: Osm2po Light Style

Inspired by the “OSM Bright Minimal” style for Tilemill, I’ve created a similar background map style for osm2po layers in QGIS trunk (uses features unavailable in 1.7.3): osm2po_light_style.qml. Together with a grey background (RGB:232,232,232) and an OSM natural layer (RGB:208,208,208 for water), the style looks like this:

example map using osm2po_light_style.qml

It’s plain and bright, so any overlay will stand out nicely. Hope you find it useful.

Batch Application of QGIS Layer Styles

Ever had to apply the same style to multiple map layers? It’s a tedious task … if you don’t have MultiQML plugin by Gislab.

With MultiQML, you can apply a style to multiple raster or vector layers: First, select the layers you want to style (use shift/ctrl to select multiple layers), press “Apply style …” button and select the appropriate QML. That’s it!

MultiQML dialog

The tool even has an “undo” functionality called “Restore initial style”, which will certainly prove useful.

If you want to see MultiQML in action, Gislab provides a video tutorial on their plugin page.

New Download: Osm2po Style

I’ve added a new style for osm2po layers to the QGIS Resources Github repo. It contains the following rules:

the rules

and looks like this:

the map


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