I am trying to create random points along a line, however I only want to do it in the selected area. Is there a way to do this?

  • 1
    Could you expand on your question a little bit? Maybe some screenshots? It's hard to understand exactly what you are asking or what you have tried.
    – MaryBeth
    Apr 4, 2017 at 18:21
  • 1
    There's no way to directly do this, you'll have to make a new layer with only the segments of the line you want points along, and then generate points along that line.
    – coneypylon
    Apr 4, 2017 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


At the moment, the Random points along line tool creates random points on all lines in your layer regardless if the Use only selected features option is enabled in Processing > Options > General.

However, you could use the following script which is heavily based on the source code for the tool. The script allows you to:

  • Create random points for each selected line.
  • If no lines are selected, create random points shared between all lines (which is what the original tool does).
  • (Optional) Treat all selected lines as a single feature.

To run it, go to:

Processing Toolbox > Scripts > Create new script

Then copy/paste the code below. Make sure to save the script in your /.qgis2/processing/scripts directory.

##Random points along line(s)=name
##Input_layer=vector line
##Group_selected_features=boolean False
##Number_of_points=number 1
##Minimum_distance=number 0.00
##Output=output vector

from qgis.core import QgsField, QgsFields, QGis, QgsSpatialIndex, QgsDistanceArea, \
QgsFeatureRequest, QgsGeometry, QgsPoint, QgsFeature
from PyQt4.QtCore import QVariant
import random

def checkMinDistance(point, index, distance, points):
    if distance == 0:
        return True
    neighbors = index.nearestNeighbor(point, 1)
    if len(neighbors) == 0:
        return True
    if neighbors[0] in points:
        np = points[neighbors[0]]
        if np.sqrDist(point) < (distance * distance):
            return False
    return True

layer = processing.getObject(Input_layer)

fields = QgsFields()
fields.append(QgsField('id', QVariant.Int, '', 10, 0))
writer = processing.VectorWriter(Output, None,
    fields, QGis.WKBPoint, layer.crs())

nPoints = 0
nIterations = 0
maxIterations = Number_of_points * 200
featureCount = layer.featureCount()
total = 100.0 / Number_of_points
index = QgsSpatialIndex()
points = dict()
da = QgsDistanceArea()
request = QgsFeatureRequest()

while nIterations < maxIterations and nPoints < Number_of_points:
    features = layer.selectedFeatures()
    if features:
        if Group_selected_features:
            feat = []
            feat = layer.selectedFeatures()
        feat = layer.getFeatures()

    for f in feat:            
        fGeom = QgsGeometry(f.geometry())

        if fGeom.isMultipart():
            lines = fGeom.asMultiPolyline()
            lineId = random.randint(0, len(lines) - 1)
            vertices = lines[lineId]
            vertices = fGeom.asPolyline()

        if len(vertices) == 2:
            vid = 0
            vid = random.randint(0, len(vertices) - 2)
        startPoint = vertices[vid]
        endPoint = vertices[vid + 1]
        length = da.measureLine(startPoint, endPoint)
        dist = length * random.random()

        if dist > Minimum_distance:
            d = dist / (length - dist)
            rx = (startPoint.x() + d * endPoint.x()) / (1 + d)
            ry = (startPoint.y() + d * endPoint.y()) / (1 + d)

            # generate random point
            pnt = QgsPoint(rx, ry)
            geom = QgsGeometry.fromPoint(pnt)
            if checkMinDistance(pnt, index, Minimum_distance, points):
                f = QgsFeature(nPoints)
                f.setAttribute('id', nPoints)
                points[nPoints] = pnt
                nPoints += 1
        nIterations += 1

del writer


  1. Here is the interface when you run the script:

    Script interface

  1. Running the script on one selected line:

    One selected line

  1. Running the script on two selected lines with the Group selected features option checked:

    Two selected lines

  • I can't seem to control the number of points it places. I input 1 but it generated 385. help
    – pbice
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:02
  • @pbice - Could you share your line shapefile? I tested this on straight, curved and multi lines and it seems to work fine.
    – Joseph
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:46
  • I figured out what is wrong. Is there a way to have it treat all selected features as one feature and only generate one random point somewhere on group of selected features?
    – pbice
    Apr 6, 2017 at 16:29
  • @pbice - Edited post, the script now includes an additional option to allow you to treat selected features as one. Hope this helps :)
    – Joseph
    Apr 7, 2017 at 13:42
  • 1
    The Random points along line algorithm supports selections (QGIS 3.10.2 - I have not tested with earlier versions). Feb 25, 2020 at 2:31

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