My favourite QGIS plugins

When I was at FOSS4G in Prizren a month ago, I attended the QGIS AMA. During this event one of the things Marco Bernasocchi and Matthias Kuhn talked about were their favourite QGIS plugins. I thought that was a cool idea, so I wrote this blog post to tell about my own favourite QGIS plugins. I listed them in alphabetical order. I encourage everyone to make a similar list. You can do so in the comments below or you can write a post about it on your own blog or anywhere else.

You will notice that some of them were last updated a couple of years ago, but if they work, they work. At least for me they still work and they are essential in my day to day work.

changeDataSource

Last update: oct 15, 2020
Website: https://geogear.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/changedatasourceplugin-plugin-release-2-0/
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/changeDataSource/
Description from plugin meta data: Right click on layer tree to change single layer datasource or click on icon to change datasources globally

Why it’s on this list: Even though this plugin is pretty basic, I still use it quite regularly. I use it if I have multiple files or webservices that have names or url’s that only differ just a little bit from one another and I have to switch between these versions. Or I duplicate one layer and change the location of the data source to one of the other versions. I know there are different ways to add other versions, but this plugin speeds things up a lot for me. It’s also a quick way to see the location of a layer.

Geometry Shapes

Last update: mar 3, 2021
Website: https://github.com/pvandegeer/GeometryShapes
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/GeometryShapes/
Description from plugin metadata: This plugin draws basic geometry shapes (primitives) with user defined measurements

Why it’s on this list: This plugin adds a button to the Digitizing Toolbar to add rectangles and ovals (and squares and circles) to your layer. After you add a rectangle, you can change the width and height by entering values so it matches the size you want. I use this for example to add parking spaces that have an exact size. This way I can add them directly at the correct size, instead of approximating it based on aerial imagery.

Last update: aug 17, 2021
Website: https://github.com/xcaeag/Hotlink-QGis-Plugin
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/Hotlink/
Description from plugin meta data: Triggers actions on single click to facilitate the use of actions attached to vector layers

Why it’s on this list: I only recently started using actions in QGIS, see for example my blog post about adding OpenStreetMap data using QGIS Actions. But if you have more than one action for a layer and you want to use them all regularly, this plugin is essential.

Layers menu from project

Last update: apr 28, 2023
Website: https://github.com/xcaeag/MenuFromProject-Qgis-Plugin
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/menu_from_project/
Description from plugin meta data: Build layers shortcuts menus based on QGIS projects

Why it’s on this list: I use this plugin all the time. For me it’s a must have! If you have a QGIS project file with all your frequently used layers, you can put it somewhere and let this plugin use it to create a menu from it to quickly add any of the layers in that project file. Since I use QGIS on multiple computers and on different locations, I have created a QGIS project file and put that online using Gitlab Pages. It can use QGIS projects as a file, from PostgreSQL and from an url. You can add geospatial files, webservices and PostGIS tables to your project and they all will show up as menu items.

I do have a warning: If you use a password protected resource in your project, like for example a PostGIS table, and you put your project on a public location like a public url, make sure you use a saved Authentication Configuration in QGIS that contains your username and password, because a QGIS project file doesn’t encrypt usernames and passwords. If you use the same Authentication Configuration Name on your different computers or profiles, you can still connect to that same PostGIS layer.

QuickOSM

Last update: apr 11, 2023
Website: https://docs.3liz.org/QuickOSM/
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/QuickOSM/
Description from plugin meta data: Download OSM data thanks to the Overpass API. You can also open local OSM or PBF files. A special parser, on top of OGR, is used to let you see all OSM keys available.

Why it’s on this list: With this plugin it’s easy to add OpenStreetMap data to your QGIS project. It even has some “wizards” to easily create queries to download data. It also has the possibility to link it to JOSM, but that part I never use.

QuickMapServices

Last update: feb 1, 2023
Website: https://nextgis.com/blog/quickmapservices/
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/quick_map_services/
Description from plugin meta data: Easy to add basemaps and geoservices

Why it’s on this list: This is one of the most popular QGIS plugins. It let’s you easily add base layers to QGIS. When freshly installed it doesn’t contain many base layers, but in the plugin Settings it has a “More Services” option to add a Contributed Pack. If you push that button, a lot more base layers are available from this plugin. But if you use these extra layers, make sure you are allowed to use them in your projects, because they all have different licensing terms. So if you want to use one of those layers, you should check the website of that layer for more information about licensing.

Rectanglify

Last update: may 7, 2020
Website: https://github.com/YoannQDQ/rectanglify
Link to the plugin repository: Rectanglify
Description from plugin metadata: Add a digitizing tool which “rectanglifies” selected features of a polygon vector layer

Why it’s on this list: I use this plugin if I have to add rectangular map features to a layer, but I don’t know their exact width and height. Then I manually draw them based for example on aerial imagery, so the result is more or less rectangular. But with the press of a button of this plugin it becomes a perfect rectangle. If you draw rectangles by hand, this is a must have plugin.

ZoomToBelgium

Last update: mar 23, 2023
Website: https://gitlab.com/GIS-projects/ZoomToBelgium
Link to the plugin repository: https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/ZoomToBelgium/
Description from plugin metadata: A button to zoom to any of the Belgian administrative boundaries.

Disclaimer: This is a plugin I made myself.

Why it’s on this list: I made it because I frequently have to zoom to the same administrative boundary again and again. Since I live and work in Belgium I made this plugin so it contains the bounding boxes of all of the administrative boundaries in the country: country, provinces, arrondissements, municipalities and districts. The first time you use it, you have to select your preferred boundary. And from then on anytime you press the button, you’ll zoom to that same administrative boundary. If anyone wants to make a version for another country, just fork it and feel free to make your own version.

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