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I'm new to QGIS and have no programming skills.

Is there an easy/uncomplicated way to create multiple buffers around a line feature?

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Now possible with the Multi Ring Buffer:

https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/Multi_Ring_Buffer/

In version 0.1 it only works on the layer that is selected in the TOC when you launch the tool but feature requests can be posted to the issue tracker:

https://github.com/HeikkiVesanto/QGIS_Multi_Ring_Buffer/issues

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Not as far as I know. I think you'll have to make the buffers in separate shapefiles (Vector -> Geoprocessing Tools -> Buffers). Nick.

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Thanks Nick, thats what I ended up doing, just a shame it isn't a one step move...yet! – DeeDee Apr 4 '12 at 15:23

I have had the same problem. I found that you can do multiple ring buffers in OpenJump.

Which is another open source GIS and may be suitable for your requirements.

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There is now a QGIS plugin that does multiple buffers.

The Multi-distance buffer plugin currently uses the buffer function of QgsGeometryAnalyzer. It returns a polygon dataset with multiple non-overlapping buffer zones and a distance attribute that identifies the different zones. The zones are dissolved, and none of the attributes of the original dataset are preserved.

Seems to work OK for small datasets (tested on Ubuntu and Windows).

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The way to do it without plugins is use Batch Processing from Processing toolbox.

Find Fixed distance buffer algorithm, and execute is as batch process (right click --> Execute is as batch process). enter image description here

In the batch processing window you can do different settings on different parameters (one layer - different distances, same distance - different layers etc.).

enter image description here

You can also autofill your output file names depend on parameters.

enter image description here

Result:

enter image description here

Documentation: Batch processing QGIS manual

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If you are just looking for visual buffering (not creating the buffers as accurate features), you can utilize the 'new symbology' and build up symbol layers, basing their size on map units. Click 'Change..' under the symbol to add layers. Also, look into rule-based symbols for logical control over what gets visually buffered.

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