Mac OSX 10.6.8 QGIS 1.8.0 : Using the field calculator from the attribute table, the $area of each feature is shown nicely in the table until I try to save it, then all the values are replaced by NULL so are no longer available for use. Furthermore, if the column is left there and the field calculator asked to update it, all values remain NULL. Any fix?

  • I also have this same issue running 1.8 on Ubuntu, so I don't think it's just a Mac issue. Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 14:24
  • 1
    How is this data stored? PostGIS layer, shapefile, other? Do you have write permission to the data? Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 15:00
  • shapefile. Yes I have full permission.
    – johnsankey
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 15:58

3 Answers 3


Two chances to get it right:

  • Check if the Layer CRS has metres as units, not degrees

  • Expand the width of the field. Square metres might easily exceed the limit you set. The shapefile database format is rather strict in that respect.

  • That's it! I use sq.m. because ha isn't offered as an option. The calculation is done in float with 10 decimal places, so even if the result ends up with only 6 digits, the field has to be the maximum of 20 places.
    – johnsankey
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 12:15

I've experienced the same with 1.9 dev version when creating a new column and immediately writing values into it without stopping editing mode. However, when I stopped editing and turned it on again, it worked fine.


Many years and versions later I had a similar issue. In my case the issue was that my file was saved as a KML. I exported to a shapefile and all was resolved.

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