I'm trying to filter a layer (using mapserver) backed by a Shapefile using layerObj.setFilter() but this doesn't seem to have any effect on the returned tile(s).

Sample code:

layerObj = mapserver.layerObj()
layerObj.setFilter("id = 1)

What am I doing wrong? Nothing blows up per say and mapserver produces tile(s) but they are the same set of tiles as if I had not applied the filter at all. Even applying the filter in the mapfile using FILTER "id = 1" also has no effect.

Here is a more detailed (in code) example of what I'm doing:

def index(self, *args, **kwargs):
    mapObj = mapscript.mapObj(self.mapfile)

    layers = [layer.strip().split(":", 1) for layer in kwargs["layers"].split(",")]

    # create layers
    for i, (layerType, layerName) in enumerate(layers):
        layerObj = mapObj.getLayerByName("raster" if layerType == "models" else "vector").clone()
        layerObj.name = "{0:s}:{1:s}".format(layerType, layerName)
        layerObj.data = str(self.models.join(layerName)) if layerType == "models" else str(self.regions.join(layerName))

        if "filter" in kwargs:


    owsReq = mapscript.OWSRequest()

    # add query string parameters into map request object
    for k, v in kwargs.items():
        owsReq.setParameter(k.upper(), v)

    # write mapserver results to buffer
        return SException(self.response, str(sys.exc_info()[1]))

    # adjust content-type
    self.response.headers["Content-Type"] = mapscript.msIO_stripStdoutBufferContentType()
    output = mapscript.msIO_getStdoutBufferBytes()
    self.response.headers["Content-Length"] = str(len(output))

    # output WMS image data
    return output

For shapefiles you should write "mapserver style" filtering expressions, e.g.

layer.setFilter("([id] = 1)")

The syntax you are using would be OK for RDBMS backends only (passed to a SQL where clause)

  • I believe I have come across this before. How exactly does MapServer distinguish between MapServer Expressions and non-MapServer Expressions? Dec 9 '13 at 23:03
  • This doesn't seem to work. I get the following error: codepad.org/Lixxfwvk -- Can you not filter by the feature id using [id] or must it match an appropriate attribute in the features properties? Dec 9 '13 at 23:11
  • I've accepted your answer, as it does work for filtering against attributes. What I'd like to know now is whether you can filter by the feature id? Dec 9 '13 at 23:14

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