Change predefined scales plus new PDOK services

New PDOK services

This post is mostly interesting for dutch readers, as our national OWS service ‘PDOK’ added some new services. And we made them (5000 layers) available via the PDOK services plugin.

Change predefined scales

But I also want to show that you can change the predfined scales that you see in the Scale part of the statusbar in QGIS. By default these go from 1:500 till 1:1.000.000.


But if you are a user who almost always uses your national WMTS service layers als background layers, you will have more QGIS fun when you use your OWN scales there.
Because using the QGIS scales on a PDOK WMTS service, you will see this:


…unsharp tiles because the dutch WMTS tileschema is not in line with the ‘oldfashioned’ scales that QGIS shows you…

But as said: you can determine the scales that you see in the dropdown yourself by loading a simple XML file. For PDOK I created two example xml files which you can download here as a zip file. Unzip it and it will show you two xml files.
Via Settings/Options select the Map Tools tab and remove all excisting scales by using the red minus symbol button. You can now ‘load’ one of the scale xml configurations, and the dropdown will now look like this:


Using these scales, optimized for those WMTS service, you will have crisp tiles:


In this way you can (as a heavy WMTS user) make it easier to view your services on the optimal scales. You can even remove some scales which you never use!

Shot version: choose YOUR best scale, Happy QGIS-ing!

QGIS goodies

Just a short post in case you missed it.

Since some time QGIS is coorporating with, so we can open ‘virtual shops’ all over the world to sell QGIS t-shirst, caps and mugs.

So: check your size, and go via this page to the nearest QGIS-shop and make your friends jealous with our great QGIS shirts :-)


Oh, and the QGIS project receives a small percentage of this money to buy refreshments for during the hackfests…

Use of the Flemish geographical data portal Geopunt in QGIS

Geopunt website

Geopunt is the central portal for geographical data of the Flemish government. Beside an online viewer, a catalogue is available from where data can be downloaded. A lot of these data are free to download (e.g. orthophotos), other data is available depending on your user profile (e.g. soil map)

Download through the Geopunt4Qgis plugin

Geopunt recently developed a plugin for QGIS. After installation, you’ll find these icons added to your QGIS menu:


Whereas you can look up addresses, POI’s and road constructions, the possibility to search the Geopunt catalog from Qgis (last icon) is arguably the plugin’s best feature. From a pop-up window you can search all geopunt data. These data can be either added to your project directly as WMS of WFS, or can be downloaded. Whe you opt for download, you are redirected to the respective download page of geopunt or agiv. In the case of vector data, you should opt for shapefiles.

Legends for shapefiles

QGIS can manage shapefiles (.shp) very well, but not the ESRI legend files (.lyr of .avl) that usually come with them. The consequence is that the vector layer is loaded without the desired lay-out (all polygons have the same color and a black line border):

The soil map of Flanders opened in QGIS

You will have to make the legend yourself through the Style menu in the dialogue window vector properties. Choose ‘categorized’ in case of a discrete variable and refer to the corresponding column in the dataset. Now click ‘classify’. All column values will have a different color assigned to them. Now you can manually change these colors. In the last QGIS release (2.6), the handy ‘color picker’ can be used for this purpose.

The Color picker tool in the Style menu

Subsequently, open an example of the map (e.g. a pdf) in a separate window, and sample the correct color for each of the categories by clicking on the example map. The soil map layer in QGIS now just looks like the original:

The soil map of Flanders in QGIS with imitated legend

The legend can be saved through ‘save style’ in the layer properties window for all your future projects as well to share with other QGIS users. Choose QGIS Layer Style File (.qml). My .qml legends for the soil map and map of biological value (BWK2) of Flanders can be downloaded here. Hopefully Agiv will provide these legend files in the future through the Geopunt data portal!

Mozilla Stumbler layer: loading TMS and XYZ tilelayers in QGIS

Mozilla Location Service (MLS) layer

Personally I’m very interested in the Mozilla Location Service (MLS), I wrote an earlier article about it on my work ( blog.

Key in this project is that both locations of wifi points and cell towers are crowdsourced and put in a open database, so everybody can use that data to determine his/her position on earth based on some info you get from your laptop or cell phone (without GPS).

This is only possible if as much people as possible start uploading this kind of locations, and as you can see on Mozilla’s overview map it is getting on steam now.

This map layer, showing all blue dot’s on places where locations have been recorded, is a ‘normal’ XYZ tile layer (epsg:3857) generated once a day by Mapbox if I’m correct. After reading Mishari Muqbil blogpost about how to add this ‘blue dot’ layer in OsmAnd android application, I was curious if I could also load this layer in QGIS.

After some searching I found the very nice ‘TileLayerPlugin’ from Minoru Akagi who also is the author of the beautifull Qgis2threejs plugin (have a look into it if you haven’t done so yet!).

So if you want to load xyz map tile layers, like OpenStreetMap, or this Mozilla Stumbler layer in QGIS, do the following:

– via the plugin manager, search for ’tilelayer’ and install the TileLayer Plugin.
– open it’s dialog (initially in the Web menu), and click the Settings button in it and point to some directory on your hard disk for the ‘External layer definition directory’
– in that directory, as you can read in the README at github, you have to put one .tsv file per xyz layer. Note that the values should REALLY be tab-separated, not space separted!
– for the MozStumbler file you need (one!) line like this (tab separated!):
MLSstumber MLSstumber{z}/{x}/{y}.png 1 0 13 -180 -85.0 180.0 85.0
To find the exact cloudfront-url you need, have a look into this json file: in

As soon as you have those bits in place you can see the blue dots. have a look, the coverage of my hometown is growing:


Arcgis rest service and other layers

But wait… isn’t that the Arcgis / arcgisonline World Topo Map I see there? Yes, it is, Adding one of these lines:
ArcgisWorldTopo esri{z}/{y}/{x}.png 1 0 16 -180 -85.0 180.0 85.0
ArcgisWorldImagery esri{z}/{y}/{x}.png 1 0 16 -180 -85.0 180.0 85.0
makes it possible to see other arcgisonline mapserver rest tile services in QGIS.

In this way it is also possible to load OpenStreetmap Tiles in QGIS, save:
OpenStreetMap © OpenStreetMap contributors{z}/{x}/{y}.png 1 0 19
as osm.tsv and see OpenStreetmap in it’s full glory.

I’ve put some tsv files in this zip: for you to try out.

Crowdsourced Street Level Photos

Another post of Mishari Muqbil made me aware of another crowd sourcing project: street level photo’s:

While still young, it’s a nice initiative to bring ‘power to the people’ instead of to the big companies :-)

QGIS 2.6.1 and QGIS 2.6 Documentation Released

QGIS 2.6.1

Just a short notice that the QGIS project (silently) released QGIS 2.6.1, a bug fix release for the latest stable version of QGIS 2.6 Brighton.


Some notable fixes include:

– composer stuff which was not working ok
– not all attribute columns showing in attribute table
– metasearch (CSW plugin) was not working in 2.6 out of the box
– some possible crashes are fixed now

QGIS Documentation 2.6

Bigger news: The Documentation team has released the 2.6 Documentation!

You can find it at or

The older (2.2) documentation has been updated to reflect the new 2.6 features. A new feature is that it now contains Help pages for all algorithms which can be used in Processing.

All new text is sent to Transifex. So most languages lost some percent on their ‘Total translated’ score, and can start working to regain their scores.

Thanks to all people who invested time into updating the Documentation and/or made the 2.6.1 release possible!

Visualize flows with FlowMapper

This article explains the presentation of flows on a map, using the FlowMapper plugin. For this demonstration, data on commuting patterns between 40 regions are used (from Statistics Netherlands).

Example of FlowMapper output (post-processed)
Example of FlowMapper output (post-processed)

Preparing the data

After the plugin is installed in the usual way, the manual can be found in the folder C:\Users\{username}\.qgis2\python\plugins\FlowMapper2_documentation.Three text files are required, with node coördinates, node names and a flow matrix. Three points must be stressed that are not mentioned in the manual. 1) The plugin does not work well with numbers with decimals. That can be solved by multiplying the numbers by (e.g.) 1000 and then round them. 2) As delimiters, both spaces and tabs may be used. The latter is especially useful when pasting data into a text file from Excel. 3) The node names should not contain spaces, because these are handled as delimiters. Replace them with underscores.

Continue reading Visualize flows with FlowMapper

Using QGIS processing scripts

One of the area’s that QGIS is constantly improving is the ‘Processing framework’, Formerly known as the sextante framework and written in java, it is rewritten in Python by one of the original authors Victor Olaya and made part of QGIS since about QGIS 2.0.

I think it is VERY usefull and in use a lot already, but not so much people are writing about this. In this blogpost I use it as a tool to run some pyqgis code, but Processing is much much more! Read about it in docs and manuals.

Recently there were some questions in the mailing list, which I thought would be fun to solve with a Processing script (instead of writing some lines of code in the python console, or creating a plugin).


Continue reading Using QGIS processing scripts

A QGIS class room setup on Windows

Somebody in my neighbourhood is Windows Administrator on a ‘Middelbare School’ here in Haarlem, my hometown.

The school, het Mendelcollege, received a (Q)GIS intro by Margit Stapel of GisWijzer who is doing introductions for 10 – 14 year old childer with GIS. The school received this course from a GIS professional as part of the ‘national geo week‘.


Continue reading A QGIS class room setup on Windows