Adding Raster Layer Support to Time Manager

So far, Time Manager has been limited to vector layers. Support for raster layers has been on the wish list for quite a while. I’ve been considering different approaches and for now I have settled with one that keeps the way how raster layers work as close to the workings of vector layers as possible:

All layers have to be loaded before they can be added to Time Manager. The layers are added one-by-one and start and end time values are defined. (This differs from vector layers where start/end attribute are defined instead.) All raster layers that are not within the current time frame are set to 100 % transparency.

I’m not certain yet whether this is a good approach though. I’ll probably keep trying different approaches for a while.

This is a screen cast of the current status:

The plugin source is available on Github, as usual. It’s still going to take a while until there will be a plugin package including this feature.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments here or on Youtube. Do you think this approach is usable?

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  1. Faisal ur Rehman said:

    The raster feature of this plugin can be useful for studying urbanization from settelite images.
    @underdark: thanks for sharing.

    • underdark said:

      Thanks Faisal. Are you studying urbanization?

      • Faisal ur Rehman said:

        No I am Lecturer and teaching GIS/RS Application to Civil Engineers. And using QGIS package as application.

        Study of urbanization is a reasearch project. In which I was asked for some suggestions.
        But this plugin can be helpful in that.

  2. Cyrus Hiatt said:

    This approach works great for me. I had to make just one very minor adjustment to The ‘.%f’ in line 209 was causing an error – maybe because I’m using Python 2.5. Removing it and ‘.zzz’ solved the issue (though I’m sure it cost me a little precision).

    I often have to review monthly inputs and outputs of a global biosphere model with other members of my team, so this plugin will be very useful. Thanks!

    • That’s great to hear. I’ll look into adding some error handling for the milliseconds. Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Andrew said:

    Hi Underdark,

    I read each and every post you make on this blog. Keep up the good work.

  4. Patrick said:

    I will review the approach, raster images are indeed quite usefull for urbanization analysis from settelite images.Landast images vor example offer a variety of different time episodes. I did this during my study.

  5. Diallo said:

    Time Manager looks to me very interested. Is it a simple interface visualiation or she can also do treatments, for example track the movement of the pixel on a time series and calculate the difference in pixel value at time t and at time t +1.
    thank you

  6. Diallo said:

    Ok thank for the answer.
    But I have a problem with the format TimeManager date (% Y% M% D) which does not recognize my data.
    Here is a sample of my time series:

    • You have to manually enter the dates in Settings. It shouldn’t matter at all what your layers/files are called.

      • Diallo said:

        I can not find the plugin “TimeManager” in 1.8.0 version of QGIS Lisboa. Is it in this version of QGIS.
        Thank you for your answer.

        thank you

      • Diallo said:

        Ok thank you.
        I would now like to export the video to put it in a powerpoint presentation. When I export from TimeManager I get more image files in PNG. How can I show this video to a powerpoint presentation.
        Thank you in advance for your reply.

      • Windows Live Movie Maker does an ok job of converting image series to videos. Otherwise I use mencoder (command line tool). The command is mentioned on Time Manager Github page.

  7. Guy Thomas said:

    Hi there.
    I have been experimenting with using the time manager plugin to show the change in land managment in a particular Farming district in South Africa. I am Interested in the Vernacular Architecture of the region and I hope that getting a handel on the land management will help in the analysis on the origin of the buildings. The only problem is that the time period I am studying spans from the late 1600s to the early 1900s. The version of Time Manager that i am using only allows for a time period to be displayed of several weeks. is there any plan in the future to extend the scope of time that can be managed by the plugin? or should i look for anouther version of time manager? I am currently using V 0.5

    This plugin could be extremely powerful when used in the Fields of Archaeology and History. Please Keep up the good work.

    • Yes this is a known bug: Due to limitations in Python’s datetime class, only a limited time range is supported. Support for bigger time ranges would require a major rewrite of plugin code and is currently not planned. Anyone interested in improving Time Manager is welcome to join me!

  8. Agustin Lobo said:

    Thanks for the plugin. Is it possible to have a text file with the Settings and just reading it in Time Manager?
    Or do we have to use the Settings/Add layer button for each raster layer?
    Also, could it be possible adding support for vrt files? vrt files are very convenient for multi-temporal and hyper-spectral images. The point would be getting all “bands” of a given vrt file automatically added to Time Manager just by selecting the vrt file.
    Let me know if you need an example of a vrt file.


    • Hi Agus,
      Currently, there is no real settings import. Settings are saved in the project file though and that could be edited.
      Vrt files sound useful indeed. Feel free to open a feature request on the Time Manager Github page. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll find time to implement this in the foreseeable future. But feel free to give it a try yourself. I’d be glad to merge your code in.
      Best wishes,


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