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Mapnik's PluginArchitecture supports the use of different input formats.

One such plugin supports the PostGIS extension to the popular PostgreSQL database.

See also a performance tuning page: OptimizeRenderingWithPostGIS

New 0.7.0 Features

Docs TODO ->

  • Dynamic map variables
    • !bbox!
    • !scale_denominator!
  • subquery best practices - when to set the 'subquery_extent' to true
  • controlling connection persistence


For Ubuntu, see UbuntuInstallation (specifically the package install line that includes postgresql-8.3)

On Macs, try the instructions listed on MacInstallation_Optional.

Either way, make sure that running python scons/ DEBUG=y shows the following line

Checking for C library pq... yes

pq, or rather libpq, is the "C application programmer's interface to PostgreSQL". Without this library, Mapnik will not know how to talk to PostGIS / PostgreSQL, and the PostGIS plugin will neither build nor be installed.

To check if the PostGIS plugin built and was installed correctly, try the usual Python from mapnik import * on a DEBUG=y build, and look for the following debug line

registered datasource : postgis


parameter value description default
host string name of the postgres host
port integer name of the postgres port
dbname string name of the database
user string username to use for connecting
password string user password to use for connecting
table string name of the table to fetch, this can be a sub-query
geometry_field string name of the geometry field, in case you have more than one in a single table. This field and the SRID will be deduced from the query in most cases, but may need to be manually specified in some cases.
geometry_table string name of the geometry table ???
srid integer srid of the table, if this is > 0 then fetching data will avoid an extra database query for knowing the srid of the table 0
extent string maxextent of the geometries determined by querying the oracle metadata for the table
extent_from_subquery boolean evaluate the extent of the subquery, this might be a performance issue false
connect_timeout integer timeout is seconds for the connection to take place 4
persist_connection boolean choose wheter to share the same connection for subsequent queries true
row_limit integer max number of rows to return when querying data, 0 means no limit 0
cursor_size integer if this is > 0 then server cursor will be used, and will prefetch this number of features 0
initial_size integer initial size of the stateless connection pool 1
max_size integer max size of the stateless connection pool 10
multiple_geometries boolean wheter to use multiple different objects or a single one when dealing with multi-objects (this is mainly related to how the label are used in the map, one label for a multi-polygon or one label for each polygon of a multi-polygon) false
encoding string internal file encoding utf-8



  • Spatial tables read from PostGIS by Mapnik must have a cooresponding entry in geometry_columns.
  • Use the geometry_field parameter to specify which field to use if you have >1 geometry in the table/query (added in r769).


Instantiate a datasource like:

    lyr = Layer('Geometry from PostGIS')
    lyr.datasource = PostGIS(host='localhost',user='postgres',password='',dbname='your_postgis_database',table='your_table')

If you want to do complex queries you can nest subselects in the table argument:

    lyr = Layer('Buffered Geometry from PostGIS')
    BUFFERED_TABLE = '(select ST_Buffer(geometry, 5) as geometry from %s) polygon' % ('your_postgis_table')
    lyr.datasource = PostGIS(host='localhost',user='postgres',password='',dbname='your_postgis_database',table=BUFFERED_TABLE)

If you want to add something after the query (for example ORDER BY) you must use !bbox! dynamic map variable:

    lyr = Layer('Order by st_lenght from PostGIS')
    BUFFERED_TABLE = 'table_line where way && !bbox! ORDER BY st_LENGTH(way) DESC'
    lyr.datasource = PostGIS(host='localhost',user='postgres',password='',dbname='your_postgis_database',table=BUFFERED_TABLE, srid='your_srid', geometry_field='way', extent='your_extent')


If you are using XML mapfiles to style your data, then using a PostGIS datasource (with a sub-select in this case) looks like:

  • Note: if you use a sub-select that changes the extents of your features, make sure to use estimate_extent=false otherwise Mapnik will return no features. Otherwise you don't need to use the estimate_extent or extent parameters at all.
    <Layer name="countries" status="on" srs="+proj=latlong +datum=WGS84">
          <Parameter name="type">postgis</Parameter>
          <Parameter name="host">localhost</Parameter>
          <Parameter name="dbname">geodjango_geographic_admin</Parameter>
          <Parameter name="user">postgres</Parameter>      
          <Parameter name="password"></Parameter>
          <Parameter name="table">(select ST_Buffer(ST_Centroid(geometry),2) as geometry, name  from world_worldborders) as world</Parameter>
          <Parameter name="estimate_extent">false</Parameter>
          <Parameter name="extent">-180,-90,180,89.99</Parameter>

Note: If you use a custom projection, you might need to change the extent parameters to the area for which the projection is defined. For example, the Dutch grid (EPSG:28992) is only defined around the Netherlands. It does not make sense to try to project South America onto it. You need to change the extent parameter to something like this:

    <Parameter name="extent">3.09582088671,50.6680811311,7.41350097346,53.6310799196</Parameter>

If you don't do this, you might not see data from this data source at all, even if it does not contain data outside of the valid region. Also note that you always specify the extents in the coordinates of the source system.


Plugin datasource initialization example code can be found on PluginArchitecture.

A PostGIS datasource may be created as follows:

        parameters p;

        Layer lyr("Roads");

For other PostGIS parameters, see the postgis_datasource constructor in postgis_datasource.cpp#L48

TODO -- more PostGIS query usage

Further References

Using Mapnik and PostGIS with OSM

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