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Fri Jun 23 00:10:15 2017

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Straight and curved arrows with QGIS

After my previous posts on flow maps, many people asked me how to create the curved arrows that you see in these maps.

Arrow symbol layers were introduced in QGIS 2.16.

The following quick screencast shows how it is done. Note how additional nodes are added to make the curved arrows:


Quick guide to geometry generator symbol layers

Geometry generator symbol layers are a feature that has been added in QGIS 2.14. They allow using the expression engine to modify geometries or even create new geometries while rendering.

Geometry generator symbol layers make it possible to use expression syntax to generate a geometry on the fly during the rendering process. The resulting geometry does not have to match with the original geometry type and we can add several differently modified symbol layers on top of each other.

The latest version of the QGIS user manual provides some example expressions, which served as a basis for the following examples:

Rendering the centroid of a feature

To add a geometry layer representing feature centroids, we need to set the geometry type to Point / Multipoint and enter the following expression:

centroid( $geometry )

It is worth noting that the correct geometry type has to be set manually. If a wrong type is set, the symbol layer can not be rendered.

Drawing buffers around features

Buffers are an example of a polygon geometry generator layer. The second parameter of the buffer function defines if the buffer is generated outside (for positive values) or inside (for negative values) of the feature. The value has to be provided in the layer’s CRS units, in this case, that means an inner buffer of 0.005 degrees:

buffer( $geometry, -0.005 )

Creating a line between features in different layers

The following expression creates lines from all district centroids (as shown in the first example) and a feature from the Citybike layer where the STATION attribute value is ‘Millennium Tower’:

make_line( 
  centroid( $geometry ),
  geometry( get_feature( 'Citybike', 'STATION', 'Millennium Tower' ) ) 
)

More advanced examples

Using these basic examples as a starting point, geometry generators open a wide field of advanced symbology options. For example, this sector light style presented on GIS.Stackexchange or my recently introduced conveyor belt flow style:


Gradient arrows

Today’s post was motivated by a question following up on my recent post “Details of good flow maps“: How to create arrows with gradients from transparent to opaque?

gradient_arrow

The key idea is to use a gradient fill to color the arrows:

gradient_arrow_settings

It all seems perfectly straightforward: determine the direction of the line and set the gradient rotation according to the line direction.

But wait! That doesn’t work!

The issue is that all default angle functions available in expressions return clockwise angles but the gradient rotation has to be set in counter-clockwise angles. So we need this expression:

360-angle_at_vertex($geometry,1)

Happy QGISing!


Small multiples for OD flow maps using virtual layers

In my previous posts, I discussed classic flow maps that use arrows of different width to encode flows between regions. This post presents an alternative take on visualizing flows, without any arrows. This style is inspired by Go with the Flow by Robert Radburn and Visualisation of origins, destinations and flows with OD maps by J. Wood et al.

The starting point of this visualization is a classic OD matrix.

migration_raw_data

For my previous flow maps, I already converted this data into a more GIS-friendly format: a Geopackage with lines and information about the origin, destination and strength of the flow:

migration_attribute_table

In addition, I grabbed state polygons from Natural Earth Data.

At this point, we have 72 flow features and 9 state polygon features. An ordinary join in the layer properties won’t do the trick. We’d still be stuck with only 9 polygons.

Virtual layers to the rescue!

The QGIS virtual layers feature (Layer menu | Add Layer | Add/Edit Virtual Layer) provides database capabilities without us having to actually set up a database … *win!*

Using a classic SQL query, we can join state polygons and migration flows into a new virtual layer:

virtual_layer

The resulting virtual layer contains 72 polygon features. There are 8 copies of each state.

Now that the data is ready, we can start designing the visualization in the Print Composer.

This is probably the most manual step in this whole process: We need 9 map items, one for each mini map in the small multiples visualization. Create one and configure it to your liking, then copy and paste to create 8 more copies.

I’ve decided to arrange the map items in a way that resembles the actual geographic location of the state that is represented by the respective map, from the state of Vorarlberg (a proud QGIS sponsor by the way) in the south-west to Lower Austria in the north-east.

To configure which map item will represent the flows from which origin state, we set the map item ID to the corresponding state ID. As you can see, the map items are numbered from 1 to 9:

small_multiples_print_composer_init

Once all map items are set up, we can use the map item IDs to filter the features in each map. This can be implemented using a rule based renderer:

small_multiples_style_rules

The first rule will ensure that the each map only shows flows originating from a specific state and the second rule will select the state itself.

We configure the symbol of the first rule to visualize the flow strength. The color represents the number number of people moving to the respective district. I’ve decided to use a smooth gradient instead of predefined classes for the polygon fill colors. The following expression maps the feature’s weight value to a shade on the Viridis color ramp:

ramp_color( 'Viridis',
  scale_linear("weight",0,2000,0,1)
)

You can use any color ramp you like. If you want to use the Viridis color ramp, save the following code into an .xml file and import it using the Style Manager. (This color ramp has been provided by Richard Styron on rocksandwater.net.)

<!DOCTYPE qgis_style>
<qgis_style version="0">
  <symbols/>
    <colorramp type="gradient" name="Viridis">
      <prop k="color1" v="68,1,84,255"/>
      <prop k="color2" v="253,231,36,255"/>
      <prop k="stops" v="0.04;71,15,98,255:0.08;72,29,111,255:0.12;71,42,121,255:0.16;69,54,129,255:0.20;65,66,134,255:0.23;60,77,138,255:0.27;55,88,140,255:0.31;50,98,141,255:0.35;46,108,142,255:0.39;42,118,142,255:0.43;38,127,142,255:0.47;35,137,141,255:0.51;31,146,140,255:0.55;30,155,137,255:0.59;32,165,133,255:0.62;40,174,127,255:0.66;53,183,120,255:0.70;69,191,111,255:0.74;89,199,100,255:0.78;112,206,86,255:0.82;136,213,71,255:0.86;162,218,55,255:0.90;189,222,38,255:0.94;215,226,25,255:0.98;241,229,28,255"/>
    </colorramp>
  </colorramps>
</qgis_style>

If we go back to the Print Composer and update the map item previews, we see it all come together:

small_multiples_print_composer

Finally, we set title, legend, explanatory texts, and background color:

migration

I think it is amazing that we are able to design a visualization like this without having to create any intermediate files or having to write custom code. Whenever a value is edited in the original migration dataset, the change is immediately reflected in the small multiples.


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.

resourcesharing_conveyor

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:

conveyor_details

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:

line_merge( 
  intersection(
    exterior_ring( 
      convex_hull( 
        union( 
          buffer( start_point($geometry), "start_size" ),
          buffer( end_point($geometry), 500000 )
        )
      )
    ),
    exterior_ring( 
      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:

osm_google_100k

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 openstreetmap.org. 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

qgis_osm_google_100k


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

Enjoy!


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