Adding Google or OpenLayers maps to your Desktop GIS

Although Google maps and other online mapping tools become more powerful, it is not always easy or straithforwards to use these tools to combine offline maps with online maps from e.g., Google or Yahoo maps.

Tools like ClickFu in QGIS make it easy to find specific features on a layer in QGIS back in Google maps (see here for an earlier post on ClickFu). But what if you to combine your own layers with the Google, OpenLayer or Yahoo maps in QGIS? Well, you use the OpenLayers plugin.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Click on figure for larger version

The plugin is available in the sourcepole repository. Fetch the plugin using the ‘Fetch Python Plugins’ menu (Figure 1). After installing it, make sure to enable it next (use ‘Manage Plugins’ menu, see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Click on image for larger version

Using the plugin is very simple. Go to the ‘Plugin’ and select one of the layers to add (see Figure 3). I am not sure this is intentional, but it seems the layer only shows up after you refresh the map (even if auto-rendering is enabled)

Figure 3
Figure 3. Click on figure to view larger version

See Figure 4 for an example. The figure shows the vegetation map of southwest and central Kenya (set at 50% transparency) together with the Google Physical layer’.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Click on image to view larger version

Happy viewing!

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