Author: Hannah

QGIS Sorceress in Training: A QGIS User’s Story

Presented during FOSS4G SoTM Oceania, November 21, 2018.
@hannahdormido | [email protected]

Here is the video of the presentation:


Who am I?

I am Hannah, and I see myself as a full-time journalist, part-time mermaid, and a QGIS sorceress in training. I am a journalist by training and profession, but learned mapping using QGIS as I specialized on data visualization.

Why am I a sorceress in training?
Sorceress: Because when I first encountered QGIS and all that came with it, I asked myself “what kind of sorcery is this?”
In training: Because every single time I feel like I’ve mastered QGIS, something new comes along, or someone else does something cool that of course I want to learn how to do. So never a master, always in training! Don’t you fret, it is a good thing!


This was me doing a freelance gig a while back—way before my GIS days. Those were the days when I had no clue what a shapefile was, or what a kml was for.

How did I learn QGIS?

  1. I learned QGIS via Youtube tutorials created by my former Graphics mentor.

2. I followed GIS people on social media and joined groups. Even though I am based in Hong Kong. QGIS Australia has kindly adopted me into their community. You can find us on Twitter and check out the website. You can also join The Spatial Community on Slack. There is a channel for #QGIS, among other spatial-related topics.

3. I read a lot of blogs, like Anita Graser’s Free and Open Source GIS Ramblings. I also bought and read books on QGIS, mapping and data visualization.

What I’ve created using QGIS?


Choking on Our Harvest
(Can’t take all the credit for these three gorgeous maps, I had design help from my colleague Adrian Leung in Hong Kong).

Pollution Maps

If you are someone who wants to learn more about QGIS but don’t know where or how to start, please feel free to message me. I would be more than happy to share what I know, and help however I can. QGIS and mapping might appear intimidating at first, but you are not alone in learning—there’s a huge QGIS and open source GIS community that have your back: all you have to do is reach out!

[email protected]

QGIS in 3 mins!

Presented during the Asian American Journalists Association’s Digital N3 #DN3

What is QGIS?
It’s a free and open-source mapping software for processing geospatial data.
Previously known as Quantum GIS. (GIS means Geographical Information System).

How can I use this in my reporting?
You can visualize your data using maps.

What does QGIS look like?

How can I learn QGIS?
I learned QGIS via Youtube tutorials created by my former Graphics mentor.

Where do I start?
1. Download and install QGIS.
2. Download base map data.
3. Watch some Youtube video tutorials, or get in touch with me if you questions!

A few more things:
1. Join The Spatial Community on Slack. You’ll find people from all over the world who are happy to help you out. Check out the #qgis channel!
2. Follow #gistribe and #augistribe on Twitter.

Thank you,
@hannahdormido | [email protected]

How to create a heatmap in QGIS

1. Format your data. Create a csv and csvt. Save with the same file names, same location (ie. test.csv and test.csvt).

2. Bring your datafile to QGIS. Drag and drop works.

3. Merge your files. Double click on your base layer (.shp file). The Layer Properties window will open. Go to Joins.

Click on the green + button at the bottom of the window. A pop-up box will appear. Choose the layers you want to join, and the fields you want to be merged. The Join field and Target field should have have similar data so they can be merged. For my dataset, I used country names as the point of merger. Hit OK.

4. Create an editable layer of your merged layers. To do this, right click on your .shp file, choose Save As, then go ahead and create your ESRI file.


5. Colorize your map. Open Layer Properties of new layer. Go to Style, click on the dropdown (default is usually Single symbol) and choose Graduated.

6. Customize. Choose which data column you want to use, toggle methods between Color and Size. For this we want to use Color. Choose the Color ramp you prefer. If you click on the dropdown menu, there should more colors to choose from. 

7. To classify your data, choose the mode you want to use. I used Pretty Breaks for this one, and 5 classes. Then click Classify and it will show you the symbol and values. Hit apply, and this will show on your map. Other mode of classification are Equal Interval, Quantile, Standard Deviation, Natural Breaks.

Note: The countries with values are not colored accordingly, I added an underlying layer for the other countries that don’t have values.

8. If you want an SVG of your map, go to Project > Print Composer, or simply Command + P.  To print the map, click on the button that looks like a  blank canvas with green + button (left hand side, sixth icon from from the top). To save as SVG, click on the icon which looks like a canvas with a snowflake. If you want to print the key/legend, click on the icon with colorful boxes, third icon down from Print.

Let me know if you have questions! 


Lunch Break Adventures: Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park is a pocket of nature hidden among skyscrapers, and one I’m truly grateful for. Newsrooms can be pretty tense and fast-paced, especially when you have to deal with North Korea  and Trump-related stories, among others. I love what I do, but there are days when the brain doesn’t cooperate and I feel like I’m stuck.

I have found the perfect spot to regroup, breathe and take some inspiration from to get me through the rest of the workday. An hour here does wonders to the soul!

Sharing with you some photos from my favorite lunch spot during not-so-hot Hong Kong days. Hope these photos make you want to visit and experience the park yourself.

A great reminder to just keep swimming.
“Bloom where you are planted.”
Dance with the wind, like these flowers that resemble dancers with puffy dresses.
Sitting pretty.
Just keep your head out of the water.
Sunbathing turtles.
I envy these buggers who can swim freely when the noon heat gets unbearable.
This beauty is known as gumamela in the Philippines. Hibiscus, if you were wondering.

Hong Kong Park is located at 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong Island. More info can be found on the #DiscoverHongKong website.