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The project: I'm plotting a dilapidated cemetery, I'm using GPS waypoint data to plot the headstones in QGIS. The map I'm making is to show the orientation of the graves, and who is in them.

I installed the Google maps plugin, now I want to trace the cemetery's road and border. Simple as that. WHY IS IT SO F** HARD TO MAKE A LINE IN THIS PROGRAM!? Online tutorials are NO HELP. I don't get why I can't just make a layer and trace the google image with a simple pen, why do I have to do a trig problem to make a line!

I uploaded the current .gpx file of the headstone waypoints and they sync up nicely though they will need some post processing. I am not experienced in GIS, but this project has to be done. I am very frustrated with this program, can you help me?


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I'm not sure where you looked but QGIS has a user manual at and there are lots of qgis resources around. A quick Google search gave me – Nathan W Jun 23 '12 at 5:38

Depending on how far you got in the process, you may want to skip to step six. I have however provided full steps for creating a layer below.

The basic process you would want to follow for creating a layer in QGIS is:

  1. From the Layer Menu, choose New Shapefile Layer...
  2. Specify the type. In your case, for a road you likely will want to specify the type as Line.
  3. Specify a CRS by clicking the Specify CRS button. For this, it is probably best to go with Google Mercator (900913) or WGS 84 (4326). (Others may have different opinions on this, without additional location information, it is difficult to provide better info.)
  4. In the New attribute area, create any data columns you may need for your project. Depending on your cemetery and project needs, you may need columns for things like the name of the road if there is one. Minimally, you will want to create a column indicating what the line represents if the same file incorporates lines which represent different things (roads, walk ways, cemetery boundary). Once you have the column parameters set (name, data type, and width), click the Add to Attributes list button. Repeat this step as needed to enter as many columns as you need for your project.
  5. Once you have added your columns, click OK. You will be prompted to save your layer. I recommend creating a folder and saving inside this folder. The generated Vector layers consist of several files which must be kept together in order to work properly. New Vector Layer dialog

  6. From the Layer list, select on your layer. Next, from the Layer menu, choose Toggle Editing. A pencil icon should now appear next to your layer. This means it is now editable. Editable Layer

  7. Locate the Add Feature button in the tool bar. Add Feature

  8. You will now be able to create your line/shape/point by clicking where it needs to be. To complete the line, right click (or if using a one button mouse on a Mac, Control click).

  9. Supply the Attribute values when prompted. Click OK.

  10. To Save your changes, you can either Toggle Editing back off, or click the Save Edits button next to the Add Feature button.

Finally a helpful hint, for this project, I recommend installing the Table Manager plugin. This will help immensely if during your project you realize part way through, another column is needed.

share|improve this answer
From 1.8 on (and using GDAL 1.8) QGIS can edit a shapefile to add or delete columns. Use the Fields tab in the layer properties dialog. – Nathan W Jun 23 '12 at 5:40
Thanks for that comment. I didn't realize that functionality had been added. – DMan Jun 23 '12 at 5:47
Deleting columns was missing in GDAL and in turn in QGIS. But adding columns isn't new in 1.8. – jef Jun 23 '12 at 7:42
@Jplotter, in addition to what DMan has covered here you may want to check out the CadTools and Freehand Editing plugins. Both are available via the Plugin Installer. Freehand plugin is accessed by adding the older QGIS Contributed Repository - to the list of repositories in Installer. – dakcarto Jun 23 '12 at 15:36

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