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I have a shapefile with several hundred polygons (archaeological sites) and am trying to calculate the shortest distance for each to a single polyline (modern coastline). As part of this process, I am also trying to produce a new shapefile with polylines describing this shortest distance that I can then turn into annotated measured distance lines during map production.

I would prefer to use QGIS, but do have access to multiple other GIS platforms.

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  • Is there a particular point along the polyline you'd like to measure to? Likewise, do you mean just shortest aerial distance or distance along some network (e.g. roads?) If it is the former, have a look at distance to nearest hub – 15Step Mar 20 '18 at 18:15
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I've actually just answered my own question. Though 15Step's suggestion to use distance to nearest hub works great to establish the shortest distance between points, GRASS's v.distance algorithm manages to solve my issue.

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