Something that is hopefully pretty easy.

I would like to be able to swap the direction of a polyline/line in QGIS. I made a custom tool to do this in MapInfo a couple of years ago, however I can't seem to find anything for QGIS.

Does anyone know of a tool to do this?

If one doesn't exist then I'm happy to have a go at making it, just didn't want to if one has already been made.


Ok here is the Python that I used to do it:

layer = qgis.utils.iface.mapCanvas().currentLayer()
for feature in layer.selectedFeatures():
   geom = feature.geometry()
   nodes = geom.asPolyline()
   newgeom = QgsGeometry.fromPolyline(nodes)

Before running the above code:

  1. Select the layer you want to edit;
  2. Toggle Editing on;
  3. Select the features in this layer you want to reverse.

Run the above python code by:

  1. Going to Plugins > Python Console;
  2. Copying and pasting the code into the window;
  3. Hit Enter 2x to run.

It should output "True" for each feature whose direction was swapped. If it outputs "False" then it didn't swap that feature's direction. This will happen if the layer doesn't have Editing toggled on.

Pretty easy!

I have wrapped it up in a plugin called Swap Line Direction and it's available in the QGIS plugin installer.

This plugin is no longer available (as of 11/16/2015) in the plugin installer but you can build your own pretty easily with the "Plugin Builder" plugin.

I'll have a look at how easy it is to intergrate with fTools.

  • 1
    so you created your own solution - well done - can it be added to ftools? – Mapperz May 4 '11 at 21:36
  • I'm sure it can, I'll just have to look at the way fTools is coded and write a patch. – Nathan W May 4 '11 at 22:02
  • Fantastic! Solutions like this are the reason I like using QGIS. Nice job Nathan - BTW I like your little catalogue type plugin aswell! – Ando May 4 '11 at 22:05
  • @Ando Thanks! I'm beta testing a few new ideas, just wish I had more time to work on it so I could get it out quicker. – Nathan W May 4 '11 at 22:17
  • 3
    That is really awesome that you worked up a solution so quickly and elegantly. The power of Open Source wins again! – RyanKDalton May 4 '11 at 22:20

If you have the GRASS plugin use the v.flip option - http://grass.osgeo.org/wiki/GRASS_AddOns#v.flip

enter image description here

  • hmmm was hoping for a more QGIS native way, don't have GRASS install at the moment. But it's a good tip for people that do. – Nathan W May 4 '11 at 5:55
  • would be good to have in python and add to ftools noted by underdark. – Mapperz May 4 '11 at 13:41

Following Nathan's answer, you can create a python action in the layer where you want to swap lines:

layer = QgsMapLayerRegistry.instance().mapLayer("_your_layer_id_")
r = QgsFeatureRequest([% $id %])
f = QgsFeature()
if layer.getFeatures(r).nextFeature(f):
  geom = f.geometry().asPolyline()
  geom = QgsGeometry.fromPolyline(geom)
  if layer.changeGeometry([% $id %], geom):
    qgis.utils.iface.messageBar().pushMessage("Line swaped", QgsMessageBar.INFO, 2)
    qgis.utils.iface.messageBar().pushMessage("Cannot swap line. Turn editing on.", QgsMessageBar.WARNING, 3)
  qgis.utils.iface.messageBar().pushMessage("Cannot edit this feature.", QgsMessageBar.CRITICAL, 3)

You will be able to swap lines by one click on them. It is much user-friendly!


This plugin reverses the line direction too:


You have to select a feature, and turn the layer into edit mode before clicking on the plugin icon.


Based on Nathan's post I've created a processing script to reverse the direction of features:

#!/usr/bin/env python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

# define Interface
##QGIS tools (QGIS 2.x)=group
##Reverse vector direction=name
##Only_selected_features=boolean true

from PyQt4.QtCore import *
from PyQt4.QtGui import *
from PyQt4 import *

from qgis.core import *
from qgis.gui import *
from qgis.utils import *

# get input parameters from GUI
inlayer = processing.getObject(Input_layer)
selected = Only_selected_features

# check 'Only selected features' option
if selected is True and inlayer.selectedFeatureCount () == 0:
    raise RuntimeError('No features selected on Layer \'' + inlayer.name() + '\'.')

# check if input layer is editable
if not inlayer.isEditable():

# reverse vector direction
def reverse():
    geom = feature.geometry()
    nodes = geom.asPolyline()
    newgeom = QgsGeometry.fromPolyline(nodes)

if selected is True:
    for feature in inlayer.selectedFeatures():
    for feature in inlayer.getFeatures():

# refresh input layer

enter image description here


This plugin will switch the direction of a polyline.



(Using QGIS 3.10)

Following @Nathan W 's answer above, here's a solution if your line is a LineStringZ (i.e. a line with an x, y and Z value) - as are most Google Earth KML files (even if that Z value = 0, which is often the case.)

You might get this error when the nodes.reverse call is made in the code below:

TypeError: index 0 has type 'QgsPointXY' but 'QgsPoint' is expected

1   layer = qgis.utils.iface.mapCanvas().currentLayer()
2   for feature in layer.selectedFeatures():
3      geom = feature.geometry()
4      nodes = geom.asPolyline()
5      nodes.reverse() 
6      newgeom = QgsGeometry.fromPolyline(nodes)
7       layer.changeGeometry(feature.id(),newgeom)

The solution to that is to use QgsGeometry.fromPolylineXY() instead in line 6:

1 vLayer = qgis.utils.iface.mapCanvas().currentLayer()
2 for feat in vLayer.selectedFeatures():
3     geom = feat.geometry()
4     pointXY_nodes = geom.asPolyline() # >>> returns list of QgsPointXY objects: [<QgsPointXY: POINT(-117.60560599 ..
5     pointXY_nodes.reverse() 
6     newgeom = QgsGeometry.fromPolylineXY(pointXY_nodes)
7     vLayer.changeGeometry(feat.id(),newgeom)
8     print("Geom reversed!")

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