GeoDjango maps with Leaflet

A short introduction to web mapping with Django, using two very simple applications: django-leaflet and django-geojson, by Makina Corpus.

We will build a map with all major weather stations of the world.

Weather stations

Each weather station has an id, a name and a position.

As a GeoDjango model, it becomes :

from django.db import models
from django.contrib.gis.db import models as gismodels

class WeatherStation(gismodels.Model):

    wmoid = models.IntegerField(primary_key=True)
    name = models.CharField(max_length=256)

    geom = gismodels.PointField()

    objects = gismodels.GeoManager()

    def __unicode__(self):

Loading actual data

The World Meteorological Organization publishes a list of all major weather stations, in a CSV format.

Unfortunately, this format is not very friendly (especially latitudes and longitudes) :

StationId   StationName         Latitude    Longitude ...
60351       JIJEL- ACHOUAT      36 48 00N   05 53 00E
07630       TOULOUSE BLAGNAC    43 37 16N   01 22 44E

We will convert coordinates from degres minutes seconds to decimal degrees:

def dms2dec(value):
    Degres Minutes Seconds to Decimal degres
    degres, minutes, seconds = value.split()
    seconds, direction = seconds[:-1], seconds[-1]
    dec = float(degres) + float(minutes)/60 + float(seconds)/3600
    if direction in ('S', 'W'):
        return -dec
    return dec

And create an instance of our model for each entry in the CSV :

import csv
from django.contrib.gis.geos import Point

from webmap.models import WeatherStation

csv_file = 'Pub9volA130819x.flatfile.txt'

reader = csv.DictReader(open(csv_file, 'rb'), delimiter="\t")
for line in reader:
    lng = dms2dec(line.pop('Longitude'))
    lat = dms2dec(line.pop('Latitude'))
    wmoid = int(line.pop('StationId'))
    name = line.pop('StationName').title()

    WeatherStation(wmoid=wmoid, name=name, geom=Point(lng, lat)).save()

Now, our table is full of records (~ 12000) !

If you open it with graphical tools like QGis, it's stuffed !

( If you want a script that converts this stations file into GeoJSON, you can use this piece of code)

Plot on map

With django-leaflet, after having added leaflet to your INSTALLED_APPS, you can insert maps in templates :

{% load leaflet_tags %}
    {% leaflet_js %}
    {% leaflet_css %}
    <h1>Weather Stations</h1>
    {% leaflet_map "main" callback="main_map_init" %}

    <script type="text/javascript">
        function main_map_init (map, options) {
            // Use Leaflet API here

A blank map shows up, with a basic OpenStreetMap background.

Vectorial data

We now want to place markers for each weather station. For this, we use django-geojson, which provides a very simple base view :


from djgeojson.views import GeoJSONLayerView

from webmap.models import WeatherStation

urlpatterns = patterns('',
    url(r'^data.geojson$', GeoJSONLayerView.as_view(model=WeatherStation), name='data')

We load this data in Ajax, and add it as map layer, in the initialization function left empty in the above snippet :

function main_map_init (map, options) {

    var dataurl = '{% url "data" %}';
    // Download GeoJSON via Ajax
    $.getJSON(dataurl, function (data) {
        // Add GeoJSON layer


The map shows up, and get filled with weather stations !

Going further...

This was a first introduction, but it applies to all kinds of goemetries (lines, polygons, ...).

I published the full project if you want to start from an example.

If you already feel comfortable with Django, there won't be any surprise : have a look at Leaflet, django-leaflet and django-geojson respective documentations in order to get an idea of the customizations you are offered...


A map with more than 12 000 HTML objects is not going to be snappy.

Hopefully, it won't be the case for your first applications !

And fortunately, there are plently of different strategies to draw such an amount of data :

  • Use marker clusters to reduce the number of elements on the map (see result here) ;
  • Draw circles instead of markers and switch to Canvas (see Leaflet documentation) ;
  • Use tiled geojson ;
  • Render tiles using Tilemill/Mapnik ;
  • ...

It gives us a lot of topics to explore and blog about :)

#django, #leaflet, #gis, #geojson - Posted in the Dev category