QField is a mobile app that can be used to collect data sample points whilst in the field. Once setup prior to being in the field, the app doesn’t require an internet connection and can utilise your device GPS. Points can then be added to your current location, or you can add points in differing locations by dragging the map. The app works seamlessly with QGIS and supports a wide variety of data formats.
I recently used this in the field to collect data points for Himalayan Balsam across the Elwy river in Wales. I collected the points fast and without difficulty. This is how I did it:
- Download QGIS
- Download the QField Application
- Setup a project in QGIS
- Transfer project to QField
- Undertake field survey and add/edit points in the field.
1. Downloading QGIS
QGIS is an open source software package and is available to download at:
A view of the window is shown below. To download a version, simply click on the relevant platform, and click the download link, highlighted in blue. If you already have QGIS installed, you can skip to Step 2.
The link will open up a new tab in your Internet browser which will then download to your downloads folder. Locating the download (which should start ‘QGIS-OSGeo’) and double clicking on it should open up an installer wizard that will guide you through the steps of installing the software.
Once installed, an icon should appear on your desktop (or be locatable from the ‘Start’ search bar for Windows users), similar to that shown.
2. Download the QField Application
To download QField head to the Google Play store on your Android Device, search ‘QField’. Select ‘QField for QGIS’ from the list of options, and then the ‘Install’ Button.
3. Setup a Project in QGIS
We will now setup a basic project in QGIS, with a basemap and a points layer.
Start by opening QGIS on your platform. Once open, select ‘New Project’ in the top left.
Creating a Points Layer:
Start by selecting the ‘New Shapefile Layer’ button , and fill the popup window the same parameters as the below figure, modifying as desired, but before selecting the ‘OK’ button first create a new folder called ‘QField’ in your file system and changing the file path to match the ‘QField’ folder location. At this point we won’t add any new points to the points layer, as we will be doing this in the field during the survey.
Loading a Basemap:
Next, Install the plugin ‘QuickMapServices’ by selecting ‘Plugins > Manage and Install Plugins…’, navigate to the search bar and type ‘QuickMapServices’, then select the ‘Install Plugin’ at the bottom right of the popup window.
Add the basemap by navigating to the toolbar at the top of the window and selecting ‘Web > QuickMapServices > OSM > OSM Standard’. Now the OSM basemap should load within you project.
Zoom into the survey area by using your mouse scroll or the ‘Zoom In’ tool on the toolbar at the top of the window.
Now save your project in your ‘QField’ Folder that was created earlier. Make sure you select ‘.qgs’ and not ‘.qgz’ as QField only works with .qgs files.
NOTE: Other layers such as rasters and Vectors can also be added to the project and viewed within QField.
4. Transfer project to QField
Your project can now be transferred to QField on your device. First plugin in your device to your computer and enable file transfer. On your computer open your mobile file directory and navigate to a location that you would like to copy your QField project too. Once done, open your computers file manager and find your QField folder. Copy the folder and its contents to your desired mobile location. You can now open the project in QField by opening the app, and then selecting ‘open local file’, you should then navigate to your QField folder location, and select the file ending with ‘.qgs’.
5. Undertake field survey and add/edit points in the field.
Now the project has been opened you can add and edit points in the points layer we created earlier in this tutorial. Do this by following these steps:
- Navigate to the location where you wish to add a point
- Select the layer menu icon in the top left –
- Enable digitising mode by selecting the pencil icon on the top right of the layer menu , followed by your points layer so that it becomes highlighted. Whilst digitising mode is enabled you can add and edit points in your points layer.
- Close the layer menu by either selecting your map or the back arrow in the top left.
- Add a point by selecting the ‘Add Feature’ button in the bottom right –
- Fill in the point properties, and then select the tick button in the top left to add the point to the map –
- Repeat this for as many points as needed.
NOTE: You can edit the point at any time whilst the digitising mode is activated by selecting the point and making changes as required.
6. Transfer Points Layer back to your QGIS Project
The final step is to transfer the points layer back to your QGIS Project on your computer for further analysis. This can be done simply by connecting your mobile device to your computer via a cable and transferring the points file.
There are other more complex solutions available such as synchronising data collected in the field with QGIS projects on your local machine, information on this and more in-depth QField tutorials can be found here: https://livelihoods-and-landscapes.com/qgis_qfield_tutorials/training_overview.html#Lesson_1