As we announced in July, we’re investing in the QGIS to help make this amazing open source project even more successful. Today, we’re happy to announce the first release of OpenGeo Explorer, a plugin for QGIS 2.0 that helps users configure and manage OpenGeo Suite.
OpenGeo Explorer provides tools for working with GeoServer and PostGIS, two of the most prominent components in OpenGeo Suite. This plugin is an alternative to the GeoServer web interface and the pgAdmin tool that ships with OpenGeo Suite, but as shown below, it has several advantages and some additional functionality.
The main window of the OpenGeo Explorer shows a list of GeoServer catalogs you are connected to, PostGIS database connections, and the current QGIS project with its layers, groups, and styles.
Working with data from GeoServer
Once you have defined a catalog in the Explorer, you can start interacting with it. You can for instance, configure the data that already exists in the catalog. For instance, adding a new style to a layer is as simple as dragging a style item to the corresponding layer item.
To add a QGIS layer to the GeoServer catalog, open the QGIS browser, find the file with the layer you want to upload, and just drag and drop into the workspace where you want it to be stored. You do not have to worry about the file formats so long as QGIS can read it. If it is not a format that GeoServer supports, OpenGeo Explorer will convert it automatically to a format suitable for GeoServer. The corresponding store will be created, along with a layer that uses a default style.
If you want to use a different style, this is where the interesting functionality starts. Instead of dragging from the browser, open the layer in QGIS and set the styling rules that you want for the layer using the QGIS interface. If you now upload that layer to the GeoServer catalog, the symbology will also be uploaded. This means that you can use the native styling functionality in QGIS to style GeoServer layers. No more need of manually editing SLD files to create a symbology, although you can edit and upload them from OpenGeo Explorer as well, as it features its own SLD editor.
To upload a layer, including its symbology, just drag the entry corresponding to the it in OpenGeo Explorer, into the workspace where you want to import it.
If you have several layers to upload, the process can be even simpler. Create a QGIS project with the desired layers, the corresponding symbology for each one, and even layer groups, then go to the QGIS project entry in OpenGeo Explorer, right-click and select Publish.
This will publish the whole QGIS project to the specified GeoServer catalog. In other words, you have a one-click solution for publishing to GeoServer, with all the configuration (symbology, groups) done in QGIS.
Working with data from PostGIS
Similar functionality is available for PostGIS. You can create a new connection by right-clicking the PostGIS connection item and selecting Add connection. Connections defined in QGIS will also be available, so they will appear under that group if you have any.
To import one or several files and create the corresponding tables, follow the same process as with GeoServer: select them in the QGIS browser and drag them into the desired database schema.
Once your data is in the PostGIS table, you can drag the table item in OpenGeo Explorer onto a GeoServer workspace to create the corresponding store and layer. Instead of uploading the data, the feature store will be based on a connection to the database.
Build your own workflows
OpenGeo Explorer takes advantage of some QGIS features to provide advanced capabilities that go beyond the simple data import. For instance, pre-upload hooks can be defined, which are run on layers before they are uploaded, so the uploaded layer is not the original one, but the result of the hook process. Here is an example: Using QGIS’s Processing framework, you can define a model that takes a raster layer as input and adds overviews (pyramids) to it, calling the corresponding GDAL-based algorithm. This is a very simple model, and it should look like this:
This model can be set as the preupload hook for raster layers. If you do so, whenever you upload a raster layer, the model will be run prior to uploading, to ensure that all the uploaded layers have internal pyramids. More complex models can be created, and python scripts that use the Processing API are supported as well, in case you need to define a more complex logic for the preupload hook.
QGIS makes using OpenGeo Suite even easier.
For those familiar with traditional desktop GIS software, OpenGeo Explorer leverages the QGIS user interface for managing data and publishing layers. In addition, OpenGeo Explorer turns QGIS into a powerful front-end for managing OpenGeo Suite applications from a single convenient interface. With OpenGeo Explorer, you get the best of all worlds: a desktop interface combined with web-based publishing.
This is just a small example of what you can do from OpenGeo Explorer. To learn more about OpenGeo Explorer, please see the documentation which describes many more tasks in detail. A quickstart is available, which will guide you step-by-step through the most usual tasks, including the ones outlined in this post.
If you want to test the most recent functionality, you can install the developer snapshot. Your feedback is welcome, and since this is still an early version, you can help us by reporting all issues that you find, using our issue tracker.
Have you used the OpenGeo Suite plugin for QGIS? Let us know what you think!