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Tutorial 2 -- 'Hello world' using an XML stylesheet


Make sure you have mapnik (and the python bindings) installed and you've successfully run through Getting Started Python Tutorial.

  • This page will guide you through using the Mapnik python bindings along with a separate XML file for your map styles.

  • This tutorial expects that you are running Mapnik 2.x or greater. The command mapnik-config -v will show you which version you are running.

This tutorial covers using an XML stylesheet to rendering output that exactly matches the map output from the pure python example in Getting Started Python Tutorial.

Step 1: rendering script

First you will need a python script that sets the basic map parameters and points to the XML stylesheet. Copy the code below and save to a file called

#!/usr/bin/env python
import mapnik
stylesheet = 'world_style.xml'
image = 'world_style.png'
m = mapnik.Map(600, 300)
mapnik.load_map(m, stylesheet)
mapnik.render_to_file(m, image)
print "rendered image to '%s'" % image

Step 2: data

Now, we need some data to render. Let's use a shapefile of world border polygons from Download the data from this wiki's local cache here or directly from the Natural Earth Data site. Unzip the archive in the same directory as the Once unzipped, you should see four files like:


To download and unzip on the command line with the do:

unzip # creates ne_110m_admin_0_countries.shp

Step 3: style

Finally, create the world_style.xml file referenced in the script. Copy this XML and save to a file called world_style.xml, also in the same directory as script.

<Map background-color="steelblue" srs="+proj=longlat +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +no_defs">

  <Style name="My Style">
      <PolygonSymbolizer fill="#f2eff9" />
      <LineSymbolizer stroke="rgb(50%,50%,50%)" stroke-width="0.1" />

  <Layer name="world" srs="+proj=longlat +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +no_defs">
    <StyleName>My Style</StyleName>
      <Parameter name="type">shape</Parameter>
      <Parameter name="file">ne_110m_admin_0_countries.shp</Parameter>


Step 4: test

Now run the python script:

  • It should output a png graphic in the same folder that matches the Getting Started Tutorial.

Hint: if you would like to run the script without first typing python you can do:

chmod +x # to make it executable
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