I have a layer in QGIS, and I want to duplicate it through a plugin so I can use the copy of it as I want, without modifying the original.

Of course layer2 = layer1 will not work, because everything that happens to layer2 will also happen to layer1, as it is the same object behind all this.

The only way I found to do it is as such :

QgsVectorFileWriter.writeAsVectorFormat(layer1,r"C:\Users\ABC\AppData\Local\Temp\NewLayer.shp","utf-8",None,"ESRI Shapefile")
layer2 = QgsVectorLayer("C:\Users\ABC\AppData\Local\Temp\NewLayer.shp","New vector","ogr")
#do something with layer2

Is there a simple way to duplicate the layer in memory, without having to write a new file ?


The following code works for me from both the Python Console and plugin. It takes the features from the source input layer and copies the attributes to a memory layer (in this case, a polygon layer but you can change it to LineString or Point depending on layer type):

layer = QgsVectorLayer("path/to/layer", "polygon", "ogr")
feats = [feat for feat in layer.getFeatures()]

mem_layer = QgsVectorLayer("Polygon?crs=epsg:4326", "duplicated_layer", "memory")

mem_layer_data = mem_layer.dataProvider()
attr = layer.dataProvider().fields().toList()

  • 1
    Alright I knew this one, I just find it a bit long (in terms of lines of code). But I guess it is the only way to do it ; thanks for the answer :) – Ril8772 Aug 8 '16 at 8:42
  • 1
    @Ril8772 - Most welcome! Not sure if it is the only way but it's the only way I know =) – Joseph Aug 8 '16 at 8:48

In QGIS 3 you can make a copy of a layer without saving any reference to the parent layer in this way:

clone_layer = processing.run("native:saveselectedfeatures", {'INPUT': layer, 'OUTPUT': 'memory:'})['OUTPUT']

The QgsVectorLayer class has a clone() function that allows you to clone the layer in a new layer, the problem is that if you modify the geometry in the cloned layer the original layer will be affected: the reason for this is that the data source is the same for the original layer and the cloned layer.

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