QGIS Plugins

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QGIS has an extensive plugin library but it’s commonly underutilized by those unfamiliar or new to QGIS. I’ve had experiences where people told me that they don’t use QGIS because it doesn’t have function X and they always get surprised when I tell them that QGIS actually has the function they’re looking for as a plugin.

For the latest LTR (2.18.10), there are currently more than 700 plugins available on the QGIS Official Plugin repository that users can download (and improve upon) whose functions range from the simple to the complex to the mundane.

Manage and Install Plugins

There are two ways to install plugins in QGIS. The first is by putting the source code in your computer’s QGIS plugin directory.

For WINDOWS: this is usually found in C:\Users\<your username>\.qgis(2)\python\plugins\

For LINUX/MAC: it is usually in ~/.qgis2/python/plugins/

A function is currently being developed for the upcoming QGIS 3.0 release that will allow you to install plugins from zip files.

The second option is by downloading the plugin from a plugin repository (i.e. The QGIS Official Plugin Repository) using the Manage and Install Plugins Dialog which can be accessed via Plugins -> Manage and Install Plugins … in the Main Menu bar.

The Manage and Install Plugins Dialog connects to the QGIS Official Plugin repository (or any repository that you indicate in the Settings Tab) to fetch plugins available for your version of QGIS. It has 4 Tabs:

Some plugins come bundled with your QGIS version. These are called Core plugins. You don’t need to download these plugins but merely activate them in the Manage and Install Plugins Dialog. One such plugin is the Spatial Query Plugin.

To install this plugin, type Spatial Query in the search bar while on the All or Installed tab and select the plugin. To activate/deactivate it, tick the check-box on the left of the plugin name.

If you successfully activated the plugin, you should be able to access it via Vector -> Spatial Query -> Spatial Query

The plugins that are not part of the Core plugins can also be downloaded and installed from the Manage and Install Plugins Dialog. These External plugins are fetched from the plugin repositories indicated in the Settings tab. For example, you can install the Statist plugin which calculates statistics for a field by searching for Statist in the search bar while on the All or Not istalled tab then clicking the Install plugin button on the lower right corner of the dialog.

If you successfully installed the plugin, you should be able to access it via Vector -> Statist -> Statist

Making your own plugin

Now what if there’s no plugin that does what you want? Well, you can always make one yourself!

The Plugin Builder is a plugin that creates a template that can serve as the starting point for QGIS plugin development so you won’t have to create one from scratch. You can install it from the Manage and Install Plugins Dialog.

Of course, you can always create a plugin from scratch. If you are interested in creating your own plugin, you can check the Official QGIS documentation. For Python plugins, it’s a good idea to check out the PyQGIS Developer Cookbook.

Now that you know about QGIS Plugins, don’t be afraid to download and try them so that you can fully utilize the power of QGIS. You can even create your own and share it with the community.

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