System: Windows 10

QGIS version 3.28 'Firenze'

I have a line shapefile with a feature count of 188.722. For each feature I would like to store a unique id in the attribute table with a field named 'main_id'.

However, at the moment, I'm iterating all features which causes QGIS to freeze.

My code so far is:

# import relevant libraries
import os
from qgis.core import *

# get the path to the shapefile e.g. /home/project/data/ports.shp
UBA_network_proj = "full/path/to/shapefile.shp"

# create Qgis vector layer object
vlayer = QgsVectorLayer(UBA_network_proj, "main_roads_layer", "ogr")

# Create and add new empty field to layer attribute table

# Start editing mode, iterate features, get their ids and 
# store it in the newly created field 'main_id', and update the layers attribute table 

for f in features:
    value = id

However, when I iterate the features QGIS starts to freeze for a long time, and I actually haven't tried to even let it run till the end, as I know, that iterating almost 190.000 features cannot be the most performant way to do so.

Is there a more performant way to do this with PyQGIS?

For example, with the processing module.


1 Answer 1


There are some redundancies in your code, and you are mixing layer editing methods with provider methods, which is not recommended. At the end of the day, I don't think you can avoid feature iteration at some point, but you definitely don't need to make a call to changeAttributeValues() on every iteration.

Try the simplified snippet below. An attributes map can contain as many feature id keys as there are features, with the values being a second dictionary object with a field index as key and new attribute as a value. We can take advantage of this structure by using dictionary comprehension to build a single attribute map, then making a single changeAttributeValues() call at the end of the script, passing in the attributes map. On a test layer (shapefile) with 180500 features, this did the job in around 2-3 seconds.

lyr_path = '/home/ben/test/SHP/test_layer.shp'
vlayer = QgsVectorLayer(lyr_path, 'Main_roads_layer', 'ogr' )
vlayer.dataProvider().addAttributes([QgsField('main_id', QVariant.Int)])
fld_idx = vlayer.fields().lookupField('main_id')
atts_map = {ft.id(): {fld_idx: ft.id()} for ft in vlayer.getFeatures()}

A few details on the testing, because there may be other variables to consider. QGIS 3.28, Ubuntu 22.04. Desktop machine with 32gb RAM, Ryzen 5 5600G with integrated graphics (no GPU). The shapefile was stored locally. I have noticed at work that saving layer edits is much slower when working on layers stored on a network drive compared to layers stored on the machine.

  • Thank you so much!When I understand it correctly, you use dict comprehension instead of iteration? Can you elaborate a little on the code?
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 11:36
  • 1
    @i.i.k. No problem! I'm guessing it worked alot quicker? As commented by ThiPa, you can use QgsTask to push long running task to a background thread and keep the main ui responsive, but I don't think it should really be necessary here. By the way, if it solved your problem, you could consider accepting the answer ;-)
    – Ben W
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 11:42
  • 1
    @ i.i.k. Correct- dict comprehension to build a single attribute map, and make a single call to changeAttributeValues().
    – Ben W
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 11:46
  • @i.i.k. I added a bit more info to the answer.
    – Ben W
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 11:54
  • @ Ben W Just tried it out and accepted! :) It works much faster, as you said, ~2/3 sec. Perfect! And I learned about dict comprehension, which I haven't used so far!
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 11:56

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