QGIS gets Oracle support!


Seems this is a good day for QGIS Oracle users. According this commit made by Jürgen QGIS now has built-in Oracle support. Win!

Native Oracle support can now see QGIS being opened up to a wider user base yet again. A large user base normally means more people willing to sponsor awesome new features and bug fixes. Having seen the growth in the user base from having native MS SQL Server 2008+ support I can imagine what it will be like with Oracle.

The list of formats QGIS can open and edit is getting larger and larger with each release. Is there a future for vendor lock in? I can’t see it.

Standard disclaimer about latest dev build and new features :)

New QGIS PDF and HTML manuals


A quick update from the QGIS documentation team today on the mailing list. The QGIS 1.8 manual is now available in HTML and PDF form.

HTML manual can be found at:
http://docs.qgis.org/html/en/docs/user_manual/index.html

PDF manual at:
http://docs.qgis.org/pdf/QGIS-1.8-UserGuide-en.pdf

This has been part of an ongoing effort from the documentation team since before the 1.8 release to bring our all our documentation into reStructedText rather then LaTeX. Moving to reStructedText allows quicker updates and a larger range of final output formats.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this process as I know what a grueling process updating documentation can be.

Community notice

Just remember you don’t have to be a programmer to contribute to an open source project. If you think you could contribute to the updating of the QGIS documentation please contact the team on the mailing list.

Installing Python setuptools into OSGeo4W Python


The easiest way install Python libraries is to use easy_install and pip.  easy_install and pip are package managers for Python. From the easy_install page:

Easy Install is a python module (easy_install) bundled with setuptools that lets you automatically download, build, install, and manage Python packages.

and from the pip page:

pip is a tool for installing and managing Python packages, such as those found in the Python Package Index. It’s a replacement for easy_install.

To get easy_install you need to install Python setuptools and you are good to go. Sounds easy!  However the setuptools installer assumes that you have the normal standalone Python installed which writes it’s install location to the registry, and when you run the installer it will say that it can’t find Python on the system.  What the!?

If you have installed QGIS, or any other tool from the OSGeo4W install, you will see that OSGeo4W bundles its own version of Python in: C:\OSGeo4W\apps\python27. This is the Python that is used when calling python in the OSGeo4W shell.  It seems someone on the OSGeo wiki has made a bootstrapped installer for setuptools that will install setuptools and easy_install into the  C:\OSGeo4W\apps\python27 folder for you.

Steps to take

  • Download ez_setup.py
  • Run python ez_setup.py in your OSGeo4W shell
  • Done!

To install a package with easy_install just use:

easy_install {packagename}

I wanted to have bottle and flask installed:

easy_install bottle

which gives you something like:

Searching for bottle
Reading http://pypi.python.org/simple/bottle/
Reading http://bottle.paws.de/
Reading http://github.com/defnull/bottle
Reading http://bottlepy.org/
Best match: bottle 0.11.4
Downloading http://pypi.python.org/packages/source/b/bottle/bottle-0.11.4.tar.gz#md5=f767c340de0b7c9581917c48e609479b
Processing bottle-0.11.4.tar.gz
Running bottle-0.11.4\setup.py -q bdist_egg –dist-dir c:\users\woo\appdata\local\temp\easy_install-5b4qq6\bottle-0.11.4\egg-dist-tmp-q2yd68
zip_safe flag not set; analyzing archive contents…
bottle: module references __file__
bottle: module references __path__
Adding bottle 0.11.4 to easy-install.pth file
Installing bottle.py script to C:\OSGeo4W\apps\Python27\Scripts
Installed c:\osgeo4w\apps\python27\lib\site-packages\bottle-0.11.4-py2.7.egg
Processing dependencies for bottle
Finished processing dependencies for bottle

Install pip

Note

Most of the time any Python packages that are needed by your OSGeo4W tools are bundled in the installer and can be downloaded using the OSGeo4W installer, however there have been cases when I wanted to install a non OSGeo4W package into my setup by using easy_install or pip. Like bottle and flask in the example above.

Five new awesomely awesome QGIS features – Round 2


As QGIS is such a fast moving project I have decided to make this a regular blog post in order to highlight some new features added to QGIS. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out round one.

Remember that some of these features may still only be new which might change between now and the next official released version. With that out of the way lets get listing.

Atlas integration

If you are a regular user of QGIS Python plugins, and who isn’t, then you would have used the awesome Atlas plugin developed by Vincent Picavet. This great tool can be used to generate mapbooks, or an atlas as some people like to say, using a coverage layer and a print composer. What makes this even more awesome is that it is now built into the print composer.

Atlas composer intergration

The builtin atlas function also gives you the ability to use an expression to do runtime text replacement, including access to all the fields on the coverage layer.  The coverage layer doesn’t even have to be a region layer, it can be a simple point layer, or even a line layer.   You can see the result of me running the atlas generation from the above example here

Big thanks to Oslandia for integrating this great feature, and the companies sponsoring the work.

New Python console

This new addition comes from the great work that Salvatore Larosa has been doing to add a better Python console to QGIS.

The new Python console includes attribute auto complete, syntax highlighting, better copy and paste, uploading to codepad, the ability to run code from a file, etc.  You don’t realise how much difference there is until you go back to using the old one in version 1.8.

New Python console

Tabbed and groups in builtin forms

One of the things I really loved about QGIS, coming from MapInfo, was the builtin forms.  Just having the ability to enter data using controls like combo boxes, calendar widgets, etc makes you one step closer to having better data.   This feature is the exact reason I setup a 67 year old for kerb data collection.

As good as they are the builtin forms have an issue of ending up with as a big scrolling list with lots of fields; also the lack of  the ability to group or put fields on tabs in the UI meant you had to create a custom form.  Well not any more.

There is now a combo box on the Fields tab that allows you to build a generated form but also add tabs and group boxes.  You can even have the same field shown more then once on the form, handy for something like an ID field that you would like to show on each tab.

With this new ability the builtin forms can get me 95% of the way for data entry jobs, the other 5% I just make a custom form – but that is very rare.

Sextante

Sextante is a great and powerful analytical framework that has been added to the core of QGIS thanks to Victor Olaya.  This is not a feature that I use a lot but this is only due to most of my work being in development and not analysis, however that doesn’t mean that it’s not a really cool feature.

One of the greatest things about the Sextante toolbox is that it allows you to integrate other great open source tools like GRASS, SAGA, R, OTB, etc, right into your QGIS workflow and view the results in the canvas. It even includes a modeller so that you can build a connected diagram of all the bits of your process, even if it crosses between programs.

The toolbox

For me what is even better is that you can use Sextante in your plugins or custom Python code.  Sextante has a Python interface – well the whole thing is written in Python – that you can use to run a Sextante supported algorithm.

import sextante
outputs_0=sextante.runalg("grass:v.crossbones", /file, 0, ,, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1=3.0,2=8.0,5=6.0,8=6.0,11=6.0,14=6.0, None)
outputs_1=sextante.runalg("grass:v.delaunay", outputs_0['output'], True, True, None)
outputs_2=sextante.runalg("grass:v.dissolve", outputs_0['output'], , None)

Victor has created a blog to cover some Sextante recipes at QGIS-SEXTANTE cookbook/. There are also some really cool example of Sextante in use at:

Massive amount of composer additions

This last feature, or rather feature set,  comes from the sponsorship and support of the World BankAustralia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction, Geoscience Australia and the GFDRR.  Most of this work was done to aid in the development of a new QGIS plugin called inaSAFE, which has also received some great praise

“(InaSAFE) is very beneficial for all of us. It’s a good example of our partnership.”
Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – President of Indonesia

Some of the improvements include:

  • A new loadFromTemplate method, in the API, that can do text replacement in the QGIS composer template.
  • Better support for EPSG:4326 scale bars
  • Multipage in one composer
  • Automatic overview frame in map frame
  • HTML frame
  • Zebra style grid frame border
  • More control of grid labels. Inside, outside, disabled
  • etc, etc

These are great additions to the QGIS composer and I have already used the overview frame feature along with the new atlas integration  to make some quick nice looking map books. \

A huge thanks to the World BankAustralia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster ReductionGeoscience Australia and the GFDRR, and all the developers included.

You can see some of the output that InaSAFE generates using some of these new features at http://quake.linfiniti.com/

P.S The World Bank also sponsored the new raster Save As.. ability just like we have for vector layers.

 

FOSS4G-AU in summary


Last Thursday and Friday was our first local Australian FOSS4G event which was hosted at the CSRIO building in Brisbane.  Very big thanks to CSRIO for hosting the event.  The venue was setup perfectly for  hosting an event like this, including dual projectors for presenting, video calls over to Perth, etc.

The first day was done using a un-conference style of event. This is the first time I’ve been to a un-conference and I liked the format a lot.   Once everyone was there on the first morning we collected ideas from people and everyone voted on which ones they would like to see.  After we had picked enough topics Shaun and I made a program for the day and we started.

Topics included:

Me presenting QMap

The second day was a code sprint.  I worked on converting a MapBasic scripts from one of the guys to QGIS, and Jody enlisted the others to help check the headers of the GeoServer project so that it can finally pass OSGeo incubation.

Overall I think it was a very successful event.  I would like to make these a yearly event if we can, provided that we have people to talk, or projects to work on.

More information about up coming OSGeo events in Australia and New Zealand can be found at http://www.meetup.com/osgeo-aust-nz/

FOSS4G-AU un-conference


Another quick announcement for today. The local FOSS4G-AU chapter is holding un-conference and code sprint in Brisbane on the 15 and 16th of November 2012.

Ben Caradoc-Davies made the announcement on the mailing list the other day:

The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Australia (FOSS4G-AU)
2012 Unconference and Code Sprint will be held at CSIRO’s Queensland
Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT), Pullenvale QLD.
15 November: Unconference
16 November: Code Sprint
This is a participant-organised event: please add your unconference and code sprint topic suggestions to the wiki. Organisers are welcome; please speak up.

See here for details: http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G-AU_2012

RSVP essential for building access. Please sign up here:
http://www.meetup.com/osgeo-aust-nz/events/83965312/

Email: aust-nz@lists.osgeo.org (sign up here http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/aust-na)

Kind regards,
Ben Caradoc-Davies
Software Engineer
CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering
Australian Resources Research Centre

Being part of osgeo-aust-nz and the local Australian open source GIS movement it’s great to see events like this being organized.

I’ll be there, most likely pimping some QGIS stuff.

Hope to see you there.

Just remember that RSVP is essential to get into the building.

QGIS Training in Brisbane (and other places in Australia)


Just a quick post to let everyone know that DMS will be running QGIS training on the 20 Nov 2012 to the 21 Nov 2012 in Brisbane, QLD. More information can be found at http://mapsolutions.com.au/training/quantum-gis/introduction-to-qgis.aspx

Other dates include:

23 Oct 2012 – 24 Oct 2012 – Perth
13 Nov 2012 – 14 Nov 2012 – Perth
20 Nov 2012 – 21 Nov 2012 – Brisbane
22 Nov 2012 – 23 Nov 2012 – Melbourne

Australian QGIS User Group


I’m very please to announce the Australian QGIS User Group. Chris Scott (DMS) and I created this group because the interest in QGIS here is growing fast and it would be nice to have a place where us Aussies can hang out and chat about QGIS stuff, discuss local issues, organize local events, put shrimps on the barbie.

My ultimate goal would be to turn this into a full user group much like the Swiss QGIS User Group but for now we will keep it light.

Everyone is free to view the content of the home page and the Google group, however you have to request to join the Google Group to post.  This is only so that we can keep it local and not reduce the official QGIS mailing lists.

So in saying all that. If you live in Australia. Use QGIS, or are interested in QGIS. Feel free to join the group.

Generating chainage (distance) nodes in QGIS


Something that I need to do now and then is generate points along a line at supplied distance.  I had never really looked into doing it in QGIS until this question poped up on gis.stackexchange.com.  This is a quick blog post because I thought it was a pretty handy little thing to do.

In the development version there is a new method on QgsGeometry called interpolate. This method takes a distance and returns a point along a line at that distance. Perfect! We can then just wrap this in a loop and generate a point increasing the distance as we move along

from qgis.core import (QgsFeature, QgsGeometry,
                       QgsVectorLayer, QgsMapLayerRegistry,
                       QgsField)
from PyQt4.QtCore import QVariant
from qgis.utils import iface

def createPointsAt(distance, geom):
    length = geom.length()
    currentdistance = distance
    feats = []

    while currentdistance < length:
        # Get a point along the line at the current distance
        point = geom.interpolate(currentdistance)
        # Create a new QgsFeature and assign it the new geometry
        fet = QgsFeature()
        fet.setAttributeMap( { 0 : currentdistance } )
        fet.setGeometry(point)
        feats.append(fet)
        # Increase the distance
        currentdistance = currentdistance + distance

    return feats

def pointsAlongLine(distance):
    # Create a new memory layer and add a distance attribute
    vl = QgsVectorLayer("Point", "distance nodes", "memory")
    pr = vl.dataProvider()
    pr.addAttributes( [ QgsField("distance", QVariant.Int) ] )
    layer = iface.mapCanvas().currentLayer()
    # Loop though all the selected features
    for feature in layer.selectedFeatures():
        geom = feature.geometry()
        features = createPointsAt(distance, geom)
        pr.addFeatures(features)
        vl.updateExtents()

    QgsMapLayerRegistry.instance().addMapLayer(vl)

The above code might look a bit scary at first if you have never done any Python/pyqgis but hopefully the comments will ease the pain a little. The main bit is the createPointsAt function.

Cool! If we want to use this we can just stick it in a file in the .qgis/python folder (lets call it pointtools.py) and then run import pointtools in the python console.

So lets have a go. First select some objects then run the following in the Python Console

import pointtools
pointtools.pointsAlongLine(40)

That will generate a point every 40 meters along then selected lines

Distance nodes along line in qgis-dev

To generate nodes along different lines, select the new features, then call pointtools.pointsAlongLine(40) in the Python console.

Simple as that!

(Who knows, someone (maybe me) might even add this as a core object function in QGIS in the future)

Like the super handy Atlas QGIS plugin? Want to see it as a core part of QGIS?


Atlas is a super handy little QGIS plugin that lets you generate a map series from a composer and a coverage (grid) layer.

The authors of the plugin are now looking for some funding to make it a core part of QGIS.  Making it part of QGIS would mean integration into the composer and maybe APIs for developers to add extensions.

The authors are looking at raising 7000€ in order top get the work done, but the more money raised the more features that are added.

More information can be found at http://www.oslandia.com/?p=1243