I imported a track log in GPX format to QGIS. The track had two layers, the track points and the track, a smooth line joining the track points.

Why does the attribute table for the track points have no positional information in it? It has info I can understand in the hdop and vdop columns and also the one for ele(vation) but there is no column in the attribute table to hold positional data.

2 Answers 2


You can use the Field Calculator's geometry option $X and $Y to create new columns that contain position data.

  • OK that worked mostly but I got some errors when I tried to save the edits to the attribute table. This is the way forward though, thank you.
    – nigellaw
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 19:10
  • You have to export the track_points layer to another format, like shapefile. That format can be edited. Loading GPX with Add Vector layer is just import, unless you use Vector->GPS-> GPS tools. But that won't give you track points.
    – AndreJ
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 9:51

In GIS world, the geometry is stored compressed in a (hidden) separate table, which is not human readable. Editing geometry and attribute values are managed seperately.

Thats different to the GPX format, where you can read every information. But that would make working with the data very slow, when it comes to gigabytes of data.

If you export to GPX, the two worlds will be combined again.

  • Thanks Andre. If I open the gpx file in a text app I can see the data. Interestingly the only 'attributes' shown there are lat, lon, ele, time hdop, vdop. Thats five. The attribute table that QGIS seems to construct on importing the GPX file has 20 attribute columns most of them with NUL content. the two lat and lon columns only hold 9 digit floating point data but those two columns have been 'compressed' somewhere out of sight and replaced with 14 columns of NULL data I can see. Seems a bit strange!
    – nigellaw
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 18:40

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