# Looking for a pythonic way to calculate the length of a WKT linestring

I was quite unsatisfied with Calculating Length of Linestrings in WGS84 in Miles. It kept me wondering if there is a more convenient, Pythonic way to calculate the length of a WKT linestring according to a given SRID.

I have in mind something like:

srid="WGS84"
line="LINESTRING(3.0 4.0, 3.1 4.1)"
print length(line, srid)


I'm looking for an accurate answer, not sin\cos approximations.

Any ideas?

• tomkralidis, this is a GIS website. your answer ignores that the this is a distance between geospatial coordinates (look up SRID). shapely in of itself cannot compute geospatial distances as it has no knowledge of map projection. – user23037 Oct 18 '13 at 1:32

The geopy module provides the Vincenty formula, which provides accurate ellipsoid distances. Couple this with the wkt loading in Shapely, and you have reasonably simple code:

from geopy import distance

line_wkt="LINESTRING(3.0 4.0, 3.1 4.1)"

# a number of other elipsoids are supported
distance.VincentyDistance.ELLIPSOID = 'WGS-84'
d = distance.distance

# convert the coordinates to xy array elements, compute the distance
dist = d(line.xy, line.xy)

print dist.meters

• +1, would have +10 if I could. Saved my team hours of programming. – Adam Matan Dec 1 '10 at 22:03
• Is this approach any different from @tomkralidis answer if the input coordinates are in WGS-84 already? – LarsVegas Dec 18 '13 at 7:54
• @LarsVegas yes, Shapely only handles planar coordinates -- so it will measure distances accurately in projected space, but not geographic (e.g. WGS-1984). – scw Dec 23 '13 at 4:05

You could also use Shapely's length property, i.e.:

from shapely.wkt import loads

print l.length

• Note that the length for this particular example will be meaningless, as it is a geographic coordinate system (WGS84). – Mike T Aug 5 '14 at 0:38

I'd use ogr2ogr (http://www.gdal.org/ogr/index.html) to do it directly but if you really must use python then there are python bindings (http://pypi.python.org/pypi/GDAL/) to let you do it.

Late to the party, but with a hopefully useful contribution. Building on scw's answer using geopy, I wrote a small function that does the calculation for a shapely LineString object with arbitrarily many coordinates. It uses a pairs iterator from Stackoverflow.

Main feature: the docstrings are much longer than the snippets.

def line_length(line):
"""Calculate length of a line in meters, given in geographic coordinates.
Args:
line: a shapely LineString object with WGS 84 coordinates
Returns:
Length of line in meters
"""
# Swap shapely (lonlat) to geopy (latlon) points
latlon = lambda lonlat: (lonlat, lonlat)
total_length = sum(distance(latlon(a), latlon(b)).meters
for (a, b) in pairs(line.coords))
return round(total_length, 0)

def pairs(lst):
"""Iterate over a list in overlapping pairs without wrap-around.

Args:
lst: an iterable/list

Returns:
Yields a pair of consecutive elements (lst[k], lst[k+1]) of lst. Last
call yields the last two elements.

Example:
lst = [4, 7, 11, 2]
pairs(lst) yields (4, 7), (7, 11), (11, 2)

Source:
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1257413/1257446#1257446
"""
i = iter(lst)
prev = i.next()
for item in i:
yield prev, item
prev = item

• This is wrong: geopy.distance.distance accepts coordinates in (y, x) but a shapely linestring is "an ordered sequence of 2 or more (x, y[, z]) " so geopy's helper function lonlat() must be used. – Martin Burch Apr 10 '19 at 12:47
• @MartinBurch: ouch, you are right. The nasty thing is not even the [, z], but the argument swap (y, x) to (x, y) that is necessary. Thanks for spotting it. Can you eyeball whether this edit looks less bug-ridden? – ojdo Apr 10 '19 at 15:05