I am new to QGIS. I just installed QGIS 2.2 on my MAC Airbook with Mavericks.

How do I simply plot a few locations on a map of the US?

All of the tutorials I can find on the web are for older versions. Version 2.2 seems to be entirely different in terms of look and feel. For example, one tutorial tells me to load the plugin "edit any layer". Under 2.2 no such plugin seems to exist. I simply need to know how to get map loaded and then how to plot some excel or CSV data.

  • Version 2.2 was released recently so not all the plugins and documentation have yet been updated. Please note that QGIS is an open source app that is maintained by a group of volunteers so updating documentation takes time. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Apr 18 '14 at 0:07
  • Jakub, with all due respect, you have not really addressed my question other than to plead for time to get good documentation out. I get that this is an open source thing and all that. But the web site does make a lot of fuss over how good the package is, so it does establish expectations that, in turn, your comment tends to diminish as though there were no claims made on the website. So, you should instead plead impoverishment on your website and dampen expectation there as that would be more truthful. – BobM Apr 22 '14 at 14:24
  • Continuation of my prior comment: And would likely lead to less frustration by newbies. I intend to respond to my own question in hopes of helping others who I am sure are also very frustrated in their attempts to become productive with QGIS. Why I have even taught a small group of colleagues about how to use QGIS, so I am out there showing others how to make use of the package! It seems to be a pretty good tool now that I have conquered some of the basics, and I intend to continue to use it. – BobM Apr 22 '14 at 14:34
  • Continuation of continuation: This tool would have huge numbers of users if you made it easier to understand how to use it. I know how to do that and I hope to help QGIS with that with at least a small first step in answering my own question when I come up for air shortly... – BobM Apr 22 '14 at 14:35
  • I had no intention of answering your question. The comments section is only intended for comments such as then one I provided. I am not a full time QGIS user (ESRI, Geosoft user) and it is IMHY not a fully fleshed out GIS but rather one that holds a future promise. I use QGIS only occasionally and as such I am not fully qualified to provide an answer. We have a large, knowledgeable QGIS user group here and someone should be able to answer this. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Apr 22 '14 at 15:17

Regarding your question, in 2.2 there is under the Layers menu, "Add delimited text layer". The window that opens allows you to browse to find your csv file, and choose the columns that contain the X and Y coordinates. After clicking OK you need to also choose what coordinate system the points are referenced in (hint: Long/Lat degrees using the WGS84 datum is EPSG code 4326). And the points appear on the map canvas.

Carry on experimenting and keep after the forums and maillist, and you'll be rewarded with enhanced GIS capabilities.

  • 'add delimited text layer' would only work if LAT and LON values were present in the table, correct? – DPSSpatial Apr 22 '14 at 17:01
  • Yes, obviously you need X-Y columns to load a non-spatial table of locations as a point layer. – Micha Apr 23 '14 at 5:11

This is my first brief post in response to my own question. I admit to being intentionally provocative in my comment postings, and am truly grateful for the community's response. So, given that there must be other "newbies" out there who may be reluctant to ask so-called "dumb questions", I would counsel that the only truly "dumb questions" are the ones you keep to yourself. Accordingly, I intend to try to do something like a journal in recounting the trials and tribulations of my own struggle to get this package to do my bidding. Here goes.

I first learned of QGIS when I was about to hit the button to download and ultimately purchase MapInfo. As I was moving my hand to the enter key, I noticed somehow out of the corner of my eye that there was no Mac version of MapInfo. So, I stopped my hand and went off in search of a Mac mapping application. All I wanted to do was to plot some cities on a map of the US. Nothing fancier than that.

To make a long story short, I found QGIS, downloaded it, read a few pages of the documentation, quickly learned that there was very little there that actually instructed me on how to use the package and I set off on my own. I searched the web numerous times looking for help, found this site, and also found quite a bit of other help on other sites, including videos, but all were keyed to the earlier versions, so were only marginally helpful given the changes made to the GUI and approach to using 2.2.

These "parallel" help sites became allegories and riddles for me to solve in my attempts to use 2.2. Thankfully many years ago I was a developer (remember minicomputers and DEC VAXes?), though for most of the past 15 years I have been managing large groups of credentialed technologists, rather than being buried deep within the bowels of OS's and compilers and apps. I am well enough oriented to these high speed sewing machines to be able to find my way around, despite creating lots of trouble and frustration for myself in the process.

So, the first order of business was to learn how to navigate QGIS. There is precious little that I found to orient the new user. I have found that most software documentation is written as though the user already knows how to use the system. I am sure that is not the intent, but that is the experience I can best describe mine to be, and QGIS is no exception.

Accordingly, the first thing I would suggest is that QGIS be documented with a quick-start guide, or a "how to immediately use QGIS to plot some data on a map" guide. If these things exist, I never found them, so they should be featured more prominently. The search function on the documentation pages returns "no resulst found" for nearly all of my searches. That is a pretty bad metric IMHO (or I am incredibly incompetent, which is altogether possible, but even incompetent's like me can be taught - eventually ;) ).

More in my next post...got to go earn my living


@BobM here's my go-to QGIS learning document: http://manual.linfiniti.com/en/index.html

I would argue that your problems are not with QGIS, but with learning GIS in general... if that is not the case, I would suggest tackling the issue as you would with ArcGIS or Mapinfo. I think you'll find that again it is not QGIS 2.2 that is hindering your ability to use the application, or any version of QGIS for that matter.

I sometimes struggle with GIS.StackExchange as well - I found that it is NOT a beginners guide type of forum, but a forum for specific GIS (what is GIS anyway these days???) tasks. If you're looking to do a simple tabular join, or plot XY, you'll likely not find it on this forum.

I see you've accomplished your goals, but some more detail into what your data looked like and what you wanted for an end product would have been much more useful then the multi-paragraph account of your frustration with a small upgrade in QGIS versions.


I am by far no expert in GIS, although I have been using them for some years now. My initial training was done under ARCGIS and sometime along the way I first heard about QGIS. Tried it then, when it was truly limited and had to leave it aside for a while. Eventually I returned to a later version and have been using it ever since.

I agree that the older QGIS forum was much more newbie-friendly and that Stack Exchange has a steeper entry level, with most users being much more knowledgeable than in the original forum. And as a recent installer of QGIS 2.2, I have also noticed the lack of specific learning material. But as a more experienced user of QGIS, I can tell you that this will gradually be solved. People will in the next few months produce more 2.2 tutorials and that issue will surely be minimized.

From my own experience, QGIS can do pretty much anything I would do with ARCGIS, even much more complicated tasks than plotting dots on a map (although it also does that sort of things quite neatly).

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