Huge Increase in Sharability by Combining Git and QGIS

After tweeting today about the Unmitigated Amazingness that is a QGIS + Git workflow, someone suggested that I write a blog about my experiences in this regard. Unfortunately today is a deadline day for a portion of what will become my next book* so I can’t put a lot of time into a full-blown explanation of how this workflow will CHANGE your life. But I can give you a taste.

To that end, in a nutshell, and realizing I might be leaving out some important bits of information and because I suspect there are a lot of people out there who’ve never used this workflow before in their life, I’m deliberately not using the technical Git terms pull, push, etc., just to keep it simple:

  • You begin by installing Git on your machine
  • Unless you want to use command-line Git the two choices that I’m familiar with are the following combinations: Bitbucket for your online stuff** and SourceTree to manage updating that stuff OR GitHub for your online stuff and GitHub Desktop to manage updating that stuff
  • You create a project (aka “repo”) on Bitbucket or GitHub
  • Copy it locally via SourceTree or GitHub Desktop
  • (alternatively you can create it locally and then create it in the cloud)
  • I suggest that all the geodata you’ll use goes in one folder within the repo while all the QGIS projects you create go in another, any images or other odd things that you need in your QGIS projects could go in a Misc folder
  • You do your work normally: create a QGIS project, add data, but do it all within that repo folder on your machine
  • Open SourceTree or GitHub Desktop on your machine and it’ll tell you that you made changes like that you added data and that you created a project, you can choose if you want all of that to be put in your Bitbucket or GitHub cloud. If you do want it up in the cloud, you use one of those programs to sync it up with your cloud repo
  • Your collaborators simply use their own SourceTree or GitHub programs to put that project and its data on their machine exactly as you uploaded it. If they make changes that they want you to see then they can also sync those up, then your SourceTree or GitHub alerts you about the changes

And guess what?! In this way your QGIS project and all the files it uses are easily synced with other people. You don’t have to zip anything up. You don’t have to locate all the places where you put your data because you’ve already put it all in that repo/geodata folder. You can order online cheap Viagra that will help you get a strong erection in bed. There is NO repairing of data source paths on your collaborator’s end! Think of the possibilities! It is truly a wonderful thing.

Now, I really am sure that I’ve left a whole lot of info out while trying to create this simple bird’s-eye view of the process but hopefully this provides a taste of the possibilities so that you can go learn more. After using both the Bitbucket/SourceTree workflow and the GitHub/GitHub Desktop workflow I personally find the GitHub/GitHub Desktop workflow to be a bit easier. Its desktop program is a little more streamlined as it “exposes” less of the advanced capabilities.

————Edited 9/1/2015 to add: Soon after posting this a reader pointed out that James Fee and I had coincidentally written about similar topics on our blogs yesterday. His topic was spatial DATA versioning while mine was spatial PROJECT versioning. To be clear, the project-sharing that I’m talking about in this post doesn’t really involve changing data at all. In fact, what I’ve been doing is collaborating with someone else on cartography designs using QGIS, and we needed a way to see each other’s designs (i.e., QGIS projects) and tweak them and send them back and forth. So yes, while we do store spatial data in our git repos, we aren’t concerned about that data changing, just really the styling of the data within the QGIS projects themselves. Fee explains much better in his follow-up post GIS and Git. ————

*First public hint about my next book: it will be about cartography! 😉

**Highly technical here







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