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Map Making with QGIS - Part I

Map Making with QGIS - Part I

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Published by Sagar Arlekar
Have you ever wondered how maps are made? In this article, we will take our first step towards
making maps from spatial data using Quantum Geographic Information System.
Part II http://scr.bi/OFaNqU
By - Sagar Arlekar, Niket Narang
Have you ever wondered how maps are made? In this article, we will take our first step towards
making maps from spatial data using Quantum Geographic Information System.
Part II http://scr.bi/OFaNqU
By - Sagar Arlekar, Niket Narang

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Published by: Sagar Arlekar on Jun 02, 2012
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Let's Try

For U & Me

with QGIS
Q
GIS is one of the most widely used open source desktop tools for mapmaking and basic GIS analysis. You can download it from http:// download.qgis.org. QGIS is useful for visualising and editing spatial data, and for querying its features. Features are the geographical objects in the layer, e.g., each individual airport is a feature in the airports layer. A feature will have attributes describing it, such as the geometry, name, category, etc. QGIS has a Map Composer, which allows you to add the essential map elements and get the map printready. QGIS comes with dozens of handy plug-ins, and a Python console, just in case developers want to interact with the data through the command interface. For this tutorial, we will be using version 1.7.3 with the Alaska dataset available at http:// download.osgeo.org/qgis/data/qgis_ sample_data.zip.

Map-Making

Part—1

Have you ever wondered how maps are made? In this article, we will take our first step towards making maps from spatial data using Quantum Geographic Information System (QGIS).

Figure 1: Alaska and Airports shapefiles

Visualise shapefiles

QGIS supports most common vector file formats—Shapefile, KML, GML, GPX, etc. The procedure to open the files is the same for all formats: 1. On the menu, click Add Vector Layer.

Figure 2: Layer styles

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For U & Me

Let's Try

2. Browse to the source (for our example, the qgis_sample_data/ shapefiles directory). 3. Select the files (in our case, alaska. shp and airports.shp). Figure 1 shows the Map Canvas with the Alaska and Airports layers.

Layer styles

Styling allows us to set fill colours, patterns, borders, icons, etc, for the features in the layer: 1. Right click the Airport layer in the Layers panel and select Properties. 2. Under the Style tab you can change the symbol and colour, the size of the symbol, set transparency, and categorise the features (see Figure 2).

Layer labels

Labels are text identifiers for features in the layer. QGIS allows you to choose the attribute you want to show as the label, and set its style too (see Figure 3): 1. Right click the Airport layer and select Properties. 2. Under the Labels tab, check mark Display Labels. 3. Select the Field Containing Label; this is the text to be shown on the layer. 4. Set the font size, colour, type, and the text position with respect to the feature location.

Figure 3: Feature labels

Attributes table

Attributes describe the features in a layer. The attribute values can be edited and queried. To view attribute names and data, right click the Airport layer and choose Open Attribute Table. To query features of your interest, add the text to filter the data in the Look For text box, and select the desired field. For instance: look for ‘Military’ in the field ‘Cat’. Then hit Search. You will find that all military airports are selected and highlighted in the Attribute Table, as in Figure 4, and on the map. For complex queries, try Advanced Search. Selected features can be saved as a new shapefile: click Layer > Save Selection as vector file. Select the

Figure 4: Feature selection

format as ESRI Shapefile and save. In Part II, we will learn how to

publish a map, plot custom data and perform geoprocessing.

By: Sagar Arlekar & Niket Narang
The authors are researchers at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), Bengalore. They work in the fields of GIS and Agent-Based Simulation. At CSTEP they have built a web-based GIS framework to simulate and visualize disaster impact. They love working with open source tools and are active contributors to Openstreetmaps.

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