How to create fishnets or geospatial grids

There are many use cases in GIS world, where the information has to be aggregated, an easy way to achieve this is via gridding or binning, where the area of interest is divided into small sections called grids or bins.

These sections are mostly of rectangular form (which can be easily converted into geotiffs), but in some cases even circles or hexagons are also used.


You can read a good tutorial from mapbox using Qgis with a mmqgis plugin here.

While MMQGIS is a good enough for most use cases, I was looking for  a way to create fishnets or grids by giving the bbox of the region and width/height in meters, which would then make it easy to script the process for any dynamic use.

Luckily there is a "recipe" available which takes input in EPSG:3857 projections and hence takes the width/height of grid cell in meter, here.

The code is pretty easy to comprehend and creates simple polygons for each computed cell in the layer.

import os, sys
import ogr
from math import ceil


def main(outputGridfn,xmin,xmax,ymin,ymax,gridHeight,gridWidth):

    # convert sys.argv to float
    xmin = float(xmin)
    xmax = float(xmax)
    ymin = float(ymin)
    ymax = float(ymax)
    gridWidth = float(gridWidth)
    gridHeight = float(gridHeight)

    # get rows
    rows = ceil((ymax-ymin)/gridHeight)
    # get columns
    cols = ceil((xmax-xmin)/gridWidth)

    # start grid cell envelope
    ringXleftOrigin = xmin
    ringXrightOrigin = xmin + gridWidth
    ringYtopOrigin = ymax
    ringYbottomOrigin = ymax-gridHeight

    # create output file
    outDriver = ogr.GetDriverByName('ESRI Shapefile')
    if os.path.exists(outputGridfn):
        os.remove(outputGridfn)
    outDataSource = outDriver.CreateDataSource(outputGridfn)
    outLayer = outDataSource.CreateLayer(outputGridfn,geom_type=ogr.wkbPolygon )
    featureDefn = outLayer.GetLayerDefn()

    # create grid cells
    countcols = 0
    while countcols < cols:
        countcols += 1

        # reset envelope for rows
        ringYtop = ringYtopOrigin
        ringYbottom =ringYbottomOrigin
        countrows = 0

        while countrows < rows:
            countrows += 1
            ring = ogr.Geometry(ogr.wkbLinearRing)
            ring.AddPoint(ringXleftOrigin, ringYtop)
            ring.AddPoint(ringXrightOrigin, ringYtop)
            ring.AddPoint(ringXrightOrigin, ringYbottom)
            ring.AddPoint(ringXleftOrigin, ringYbottom)
            ring.AddPoint(ringXleftOrigin, ringYtop)
            poly = ogr.Geometry(ogr.wkbPolygon)
            poly.AddGeometry(ring)

            # add new geom to layer
            outFeature = ogr.Feature(featureDefn)
            outFeature.SetGeometry(poly)
            outLayer.CreateFeature(outFeature)
            outFeature.Destroy

            # new envelope for next poly
            ringYtop = ringYtop - gridHeight
            ringYbottom = ringYbottom - gridHeight

        # new envelope for next poly
        ringXleftOrigin = ringXleftOrigin + gridWidth
        ringXrightOrigin = ringXrightOrigin + gridWidth

    # Close DataSources
    outDataSource.Destroy()


if __name__ == "__main__":

    #
    # example run : $ python grid.py <full-path><output-shapefile-name>.shp xmin xmax ymin ymax gridHeight gridWidth
    #

    if len( sys.argv ) != 8:
        print "[ ERROR ] you must supply seven arguments: output-shapefile-name.shp xmin xmax ymin ymax gridHeight gridWidth"
        sys.exit( 1 )

    main( sys.argv[1], sys.argv[2], sys.argv[3], sys.argv[4], sys.argv[5], sys.argv[6], sys.argv[7] )

Here is an example usage: python grid.py grid.shp 992325.66 1484723.41 494849.32 781786.14 10000 10000

Here is an example of a 10km/10 km grid

Python scripts are generally usable in most use cases, how ever incase one needs a Postgis alternative, i.e a function which runs in Postgis database and creates a fishnet in a table, then It might be useful to use a query which I found here.

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION public.makegrid_2d (
  bound_polygon public.geometry,
  grid_step integer,
  metric_srid integer = 3857 --metric SRID  
)
RETURNS public.geometry AS
$body$
DECLARE
  BoundM public.geometry; --Bound polygon transformed to the metric projection (with metric_srid SRID)
  Xmin DOUBLE PRECISION;
  Xmax DOUBLE PRECISION;
  Ymax DOUBLE PRECISION;
  X DOUBLE PRECISION;
  Y DOUBLE PRECISION;
  sectors public.geometry[];
  i INTEGER;
BEGIN
  BoundM := ST_Transform($1, $3); --From WGS84 (SRID 4326) to the metric projection, to operate with step in meters
  Xmin := ST_XMin(BoundM);
  Xmax := ST_XMax(BoundM);
  Ymax := ST_YMax(BoundM);

  Y := ST_YMin(BoundM); --current sector's corner coordinate
  i := -1;
  <>
  LOOP
    IF (Y > Ymax) THEN  --Better if generating polygons exceeds the bound for one step. You always can crop the result. But if not you may get not quite correct data for outbound polygons (e.g. if you calculate frequency per sector)
        EXIT;
    END IF;

    X := Xmin;
    <>
    LOOP
      IF (X > Xmax) THEN
          EXIT;
      END IF;

      i := i + 1;
      sectors[i] := ST_GeomFromText('POLYGON(('||X||' '||Y||', '||(X+$2)||' '||Y||', '||(X+$2)||' '||(Y+$2)||', '||X||' '||(Y+$2)||', '||X||' '||Y||'))', $3);

      X := X + $2;
    END LOOP xloop;
    Y := Y + $2;
  END LOOP yloop;

  RETURN ST_Transform(ST_Collect(sectors), ST_SRID($1));
END;
$body$
LANGUAGE 'plpgsql';

I hope this helps.

Varun Pant

How to create fishnets or geospatial grids  by  Varun Pant