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Katrina Navickas’s basics GIS training

k.navickas@herts.ac.uk

Contents
Katrina Navickas’s basics GIS training ................................................................................................... 1
Aims: ................................................................................................................................................... 1
What you need to do before the workshop: .......................................................................................... 1
1. Using Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables ............................................................................... 2
Google Maps ....................................................................................................................................... 2
Google Fusion Tables .......................................................................................................................... 5
2. Using QGIS – an open source GIS programme.................................................................................... 8
Task one: open QGIS ........................................................................................................................... 9
Next, install the Openlayers plugin ..................................................................................................... 9
Task two: draw a point, line and a polygon ...................................................................................... 10
Task three: adding historic boundaries ........................................................................................... 13
Task four: Geo-referencing a historic map ...................................................................................... 14
Task five: Adding a .csv table of data points ..................................................................................... 14
Saving and exporting your map into an image file ........................................................................... 16

Aims:
This is a basic guide to some of the main functions in drawing historical maps. First we will
use the easy tools available from Google to draw some simple web maps. Then, we will draw
some maps using QGIS, a free open source programme. We will also explore sources of
digitised historic maps and boundary shapefiles.

What you need to do before the workshop:
1. If you do not have a google account, sign up for one: www.google.com
2. Download the latest version of QGIS from https://www.qgis.org/en/site/
3. If you wish to use a specific historic map, bring a digital copy (if you have a paper
copy, scan it)
4. If you have specific places you want to plot, put the names and addresses in an excel
spreadsheet, with each type of information in separate columns, and save as a ‘.csv’
file.
e.g. here is my list of buildings in Croydon:
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If you don’t have the latitude and longitudes, then leave those columns blank. We will geo-reference
them later.

1. Using Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables

A full tutorial is available on Programming Historian:
https://programminghistorian.org/lessons/googlemaps-googleearth

Google Maps

To draw a map on google maps, go to: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/

Click on ‘create a new map’ in the left hand corner.
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You can either directly ‘pin’ points to and draw lines and shapes on the map using the ‘add marker’
and ‘add line’ buttons, or import your list of places from your csv file.

Click on ‘import’ under the layer tab.

Upload your file. It will then ask you which column contains your address data. My file here already
has latitude and longitude co-ordinates, so I’ve ticked those. If you don’t have these, click on the
address row and it will attempt to geo-reference them for you.
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It will then place your points on the map:

You can change the style, contents, etc of the points by clicking on the various icons in each popup
or as a whole by clicking on ‘uniform style’ in the left hand legend.
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You can now export your points, either back as a csv file (with added co-ordinates) or as a KML or
KMZ file (these are types of file that contain geographical data such as the co-ordinates), which you
can then open in Google Earth.

Google Fusion Tables

I prefer using google fusion tables because it enables you to make simple statistical tables from your
data as well as mapping it.

Go to https://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232

Click on ‘create new fusion table’.

It will ask you to upload a file – upload your csv file.

Here is my Croydon spreadsheet uploaded – it first shows you the individual rows:

Click on ‘edit’ > ‘change columns’. Make sure all your columns are the right sort of data – and that
the addresses you want to geo-reference are classed as ‘location’.
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Now click on the ‘map’ tab. It should plot your points for you.

You can change the style of the map and what is displayed in the information by clicking on the
buttons on the left hand side.

You can also make a heatmap if you have lots of points – just click on ‘heatmap’.

You can make charts and other forms of statistical visualisations by clicking on the ‘+’ tab and
choosing a type of chart – this is very useful if you have e.g. population data in one column.
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2. Using QGIS – an open source GIS programme

We are using QGIS to draw our maps. Download it from here: http://www.qgis.org/en/site/

Key concepts and terms in GIS:

Layers – the different layers of the map, which are added one by one and can be turned off and on
to view.

Vector layers consist of three types:

 Points – points, e.g. single places – e.g. a town point
 Lines – lines, e.g. a boundary line that has a beginning and end, or a street
 Polygons – shapes, e.g. a parish, a building outline, a county boundary

Rasters – a raster layer can be e.g. an image file, a geo-referenced map

Geo-referencing/warping – adding co-ordinates to an image file so the programme can recognise it
as a map

Projections – we will be using either the default projection for a map – WGS 84, or the British
National Grid projection – OSGB 1936

File extensions - .shp (i.e. shapefile) is the extension for boundary files we’ve downloaded (e.g. from
UK Data Service), and .kml for other forms of geo-referenced shapefiles (e.g. from google earth)

NB: *In order for all your layers to show up, you need to make sure that they are all the same
projection* - you can do this by right-clicking on the layer name on the left hand side and clicking
‘set layer CRS’.

Preparation:

- You should make a new folder on your computer where you will put all your saved files.
- Have your information that you want to map in a .csv file (use a normal Excel spreadsheet
with different columns for each type of information – e.g. name, address, town, country –
and save it as a csv file).
- Digitise any historic maps you want to use in .jpg or .tiff format.

Full guides for historians are available on The Programming Historian:

https://programminghistorian.org/lessons/qgis-layers

https://programminghistorian.org/lessons/geocoding-qgis

https://programminghistorian.org/lessons/georeferencing-qgis
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Task one: open QGIS
Open QGIS on your computer.

It should look something like this (I’ve already got previous projects on it):

Click on the blank page icon on the top left, or Project>New to open a new project.

Next, install the Openlayers plugin
First of all we need to see a current map on QGIS. You need to add a ‘plugin’ called Openlayers:

Click on ‘Plugins’ tab on QGIS > ‘install and manage plugins’ > ‘get more’ – and scroll down to find
Openlayers and click ‘install plugin’

If you can’t find it after this, see this helppage -
http://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/121085/where-is-the-openlayers-plugin-in-qgis-2-6
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Click on the tab ‘Web’> OpenLayers Plugin and choose which basemap you wish to use. I’m using
open street map.

Zoom in to where you want using the + in a magnifying glass symbol.

Task two: draw a point, line and a polygon
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a) Click on ‘layer’> add new shapefile layer (or follow the shortcut in the toolbar)
b) Then choose either ‘point’, ‘line’ or ‘polygon’ depending on what feature you want to draw.

If you want to add extra information to the point, for example, the name of the place, then also
under ‘new attribute’ write in ‘name’ as the column heading, click on ‘add to attribute list’ then click
OK. Save the layer in your GIS folder.

Make a new layer for each different type of vector, and it helps if you keep different types of
information in separate layers too (e.g. villages separate layer from towns).

The new layer will appear in your toolbar.

c) Click on the pencil sign so you can edit it. Then click on the ‘add feature’ button and plot
your point, line or polygon!
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An attributes box will pop up. You can leave the id blank if you wish, and if you’ve added other
columns, you can add in information there.

Pencil icon second from left, and add feature icon, fourth from left.

d) Click save and it’s done.

You can change its colour, show labels with the extra information etc by right-clicking on the layer in
the layers panel, and going to ‘properties’ > ‘style’, where you will be given lots of options for
changing the shape and colour, and adding a label (label>drop down box for ‘label this layer with’
and click on ‘name’ or whatever column heading you chose).
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e) Click on the save icon next to the pencil to save the layer, and then unclick the pencil if you
don’t want to edit it any more.

Task three: adding historic boundaries

Historic county and parish boundaries are available on UK Data Service – (prior registration required,
and access via UH) – http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk (I think it’s Humphrey Southall’s project at
the University of Portsmouth, number 4828) but also see
http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/occupations/britain19c/boundaries.html

OS Open data has census boundaries and outline maps of the UK –
http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/opendata-products.html

The Office for National Statistics is perhaps even easier to search -
https://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/geoportal/catalog/main/home.page

You can download geo-referenced OS maps from EDINA HISTORIC DIGIMAP (available via UH online
library)

A full list of links is here: http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Public_Geodata_for_the_UK

See also Share Geo - https://www.sharegeo.ac.uk/

a) Click on ‘layer’>’add vector layer’. A pop up box will appear – click on ‘browse’ to find the
file, and then upload the .shp file with the boundary you want.
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It should appear as a new layer. Alter its appearance (e.g. its colour or transparency) by right
clicking on the layer > ‘properties’.

Make sure that all your layers are in the same projection, otherwise they won’t show. You can bring
a layer to the front (e.g. make the point or line you drew in stage two appear above the new
boundary file) by moving it after the boundary layer in the toolbar list.

Task four: Geo-referencing a historic map

Make sure that open street map layer is on for this so you can match up points on the old map with
their current locations. Zoom into the current map to the view corresponding with your historic
map.

a) Click on ‘raster’>’georeferencer’
b) Click on ‘open raster’ – and select the image file that you want to geo-reference
c) Choose the projection
d) Click on ‘add point’ and select a point on the historic map. Street corners and corners of
churches and old buildings are useful if you’re doing it to a small scale. Click on the
corresponding location on the new map.
e) Do this pairing of points for at least four points, preferably at the four corners of the image.
f) Click on ‘transformation settings’ and make sure that you select the right transformation
settings. I normally use ‘linear’ and ‘nearest neighbour’ but you may want to try various ones
out and see what works.
g) Click on ‘output raster’ and choose the folder to save it to. Make sure that ‘load in QGIS
when done’ is checked. Click ok.
h) Press the ‘start georeferencing’ start button to geo reference the map. It should appear as a
layer on your map. You can adjust the transparency by right-clicking on the layer in the
menu toolbar and going to ‘properties’.

Task five: Adding a .csv table of data points

Add your csv file of addresses. You should have separate columns specifying the latitude and
longitude co-ordinates.

a) Click on ‘Layer’>’add delimited text layer’.
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b) Click on ‘browse’ and find your file. It should display the columns underneath. Click on the
dropdown boxes for the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ fields – ‘X’= longitude and ‘Y’= latitude.

c) Another pop up box appears asking you to set the CTS. Again make sure that the projection
matches the other layers. Openstreet map usually uses WG84 (Click on OK and your points
should appear.
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If you haven’t put in the latitude and longitude of the points in your csv file yet there are various
ways to do this automatically.

a) Within QGIS, you can use the plugin ‘MMQGIS’, which again is available via the Plugins tab or
https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/mmqgis/. There’s a useful list of instructions here:
http://blog.mangomap.com/post/74368997570/how-to-make-a-web-map-from-a-list-of-
addresses-in

b) Or you can use some of the many tools on the internet to export the co-ordinates – e.g
www.batchgeo.com or http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/geocoder/

Saving and exporting your map into an image file

Click on ‘project’>’new print composer’.

Give it a name

Click on ‘add new map’> draw a rectangle.

Your map should appear. You can manoeuvre it, change the scale, ‘add new legend’, ‘add new
scalebar’.

Then export as image or print it.