Experiments in the 3rd dimension

The upcoming 2.14 release of QGIS features a new renderer. For the first time in QGIS history, it will be possible to render 2.5D objects directly in the map window. This feature is the result of a successful crowd funding campaign organized by Matthias Kuhn last year.

In this post, I’ll showcase this new renderer and compare the achievable results to output from the Qgis2threejs plugin.

For this post, I’m using building parts data from the city of Vienna, which is publicly available through their data viewer:

This dataset is a pretty detailed building model, where each building is made up of multiple features that represent parts of the building with different height. Of course, if we just load the dataset in default style, we cannot really appreciate the data:

Loaded building parts layer

Loaded building parts layer

All this changes if we use the new 2.5D renderer. With just a few basic settings, we can create 2.5D representations of the building parts:

QGIS 2.5D renderer settings

QGIS 2.5D renderer settings

Compare the results to aerial images in Google Maps …

QGIS 2.5D renderer and view in Google Maps

QGIS 2.5D renderer and view in Google Maps

… not bad at all!

Except for a few glitches concerning the small towers at the corners of the building, and some situations where it seems like the wrong building part is drawn in the front, the 2.5D look is quite impressive.

Now, how does this compare to Qgis2threejs, one of the popular plugins which uses web technologies to render 3D content?

One obvious disadvantage of Qgis2threejs is that we cannot define a dedicated roof color. Thus the whole block is drawn in the same color.

On the other hand, Qgis2threejs does not suffer from the rendering order issues that we observe in the QGIS 2.5D renderer and the small towers in the building corners are correctly displayed as well:

QGIS 2.5D renderer and QGIS2threejs output

QGIS 2.5D renderer and Qgis2threejs output

Overall, the 2.5D renderer is a really fun and exciting new feature. Besides the obvious building usecase, I’m sure we will see a lot of thematic maps making use of this as well.

Give it a try!

In the next post, I’m planning a more in-depth look into how the 2.5D renderer works. Here’s a small teaser of what’s possible if you are not afraid to get your hands dirty:

3 comments
  1. Any progress in getting closer to a real 2.5d experience? Being able to interact with the map as in the Qgis2threejs result , but actually being able to edit extrusions etc. would help to get Q closer to the next level of user adoption…

    • There seems to be growing interest in 3D, but we’ll have to see if it turns into action and actual development being done. I’d estimate it’s quite a serious amount of work.

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