logo Calflora Shape Editor Help
Updated February 3, 2021
With the Shape Editor application, you can view and edit any of the lines and polygons you may have added while you were entering observations. You can also enter a new line or polygon. You can also upload a polygon shapefile or KML file, so that the polygons in the file become available for search in Observation Search and What Grows Here?.

As a Calflora contributor, you have your own portfolio of lines and polygons. Each time you enter an observation record with a line or polygon, the line or polygon goes into this portfolio. Each time you make a search polygon from Observation Search or What Grows Here?, and save it by name, it goes into this portfolio.

If you are a member of a group, then any lines or polygons associated with the group will also be available to you through this application. You can also share your polygons with a group.

Please contact Calflora support with any questions about using this application.

A line or polygon stored by this application has only the following attributes:
  • ID
  • Geometry
  • Purpose (search, assessment, treatment, REGION, or TRAIL)
  • Name (optional)
  • Group (optional)
  • Date added
The reason to give a polygon a name is so that you can find it and use it over and over again -- for instance, to search for observations inside of the polygon from the Observation Search application.

If you upload a shapefile of lines or polygons with this application you will be able to choose a single attribute from the shapefile to become the name of the line or polygon as it resides on Calflora. Other attributes will be ignored.

If you have a shapefile with plant observation data in it, and you want to load the observations into your Calflora account, this is not the right application to use. If will be much easier to upload a shapefile of observations into your Calflora account if you use the Observation Upload application instead.

Open Search, enter some parameters, and press .

Search Criteria

  • Name: The name of the shape.

  • Group: If a group is selected, only shapes associated with that group will be returned.

  • Purpose: See below.

  • Start Date and End Date: Enter one, or the other, or both of these criteria to bracket the entry date of shapes you are interested in. Dates are entered in the format YYYY-MM-DD so that February 20, 2019 is written as 2019-2-20. If you enter 2019-2-20 as the end date, the result will include shapes that were entered on or before 2019-2-20. If you put the same date in both Start Date and End Date, the results will only include shapes entered on that date.

  • only named shapes: When this is checked, only shape records that have names will be returned.

  • ID: If you know the ID of the shape record you want, enter it here.

  • Type: Type of geometry. One of
    • polygon
    • polygon with holes
    • multi polygon
    • array
    • line
    • complex
The results appear in a table below.

The rightmost column in the table is labeled "?" and indicates whether you can edit the record. If a checkmark appears in this column, then you can edit the record.

Editing a Shape Record
To select a record, click on the purple crayon in the leftmost column. The line or polygon appears on the map, and a panel opens up showing the details of the record.

Open References to view all of the other records that refer to this shape. Other records may include observations, checklists, Great Places, or saved searches. This feature is useful for finding shapes which are no longer used.

In the detail panel, press to edit the record.

Editing the Line or Polygon
Press to change the line or polygon. When editing, the vertices appear on the map as follows: The first vertex appears as a white diamond, . Every other vertex appears as a orange square, .

If you are editing a polygon, the inside of the polygon is shaded purple. You can change the map zoom level, or re-position the map by dragging, while you are editing.

Drag a vertex to move it. Click directly on a vertex to delete it. To add a new vertex, click on the map. The new vertex will be inserted in between the closest two existing vertices. If the new vertex does not go where you expect, delete it, and try clicking very close to an existing vertex, and then dragging the new vertex to where it belongs.

For a step-by-step explanation of the drawing process, see Drawing a Polygon.

To delete many vertices at once, check
    Select vertices by rectangle
and then drag the mouse on the map to define a gray rectangle.

Press to delete all vertices within the rectangle.

Press when you are done. Press to save the changes.

Edit Actions
Open Edit Actions to do any of the following operations on the currently selected shape:
    show as background The current shape will be shown in a different color as a background. It will stay visible until you press the clear background(s) button. Several shapes can be shown in the background at the same time. This can be useful if you want to draw a new shape, and need to use an existing shape as a reference.
    generate a polygon Generate a polygon from the current shape. This function uses the value of Buffer (meters) to determine how close the new polygon's perimeter will be to the original shape. With a low value such as 5, it will be very close. With a high value such as 20, it will be farther away.

    If you check Allow holes, this function will generate a polygon with holes under certain circumstances, such as if the current shape is a line that crosses itself. It is more likely to generate a polygon with holes with a low value of Buffer.

    Note that when you save the newly generated polygon, it will replace the original shape in the database. (If you are going to need the original shape as well as the new polygon, make a copy of the original shape first.)

    Use. Typically this function is used to generate a polygon from a line. However, it is also convenient in some other situations:

    • If you have a polygon with holes, and you would rather have a very similar polygon without holes, you can use this function to get rid of the holes.
    • You can also use this function to add a buffer around an existing polygon -- the newly generated polygon will be a little bit bigger and have softer edges than the original.
    simplify Remove vertices to make the shape simpler. The value of Level of simplification determines how agressively vertices will be removed.

    When the processing is finished, it will tell you how many vertices were removed, show the simplified version, and ask if you want to keep the simplified version.

    make a copy Make a copy of the current shape.
    convert to a polygon This action is available if the selected shape is a line.
    Join the first vertex to the last vertex to make a polygon.
    split This action is available if the selected shape is a multi polygon.
    Split the multi polygon into separate simple polygons. The new polygon records appear at the top of the table of results, and they are not automaticlaly saved to the database. To save one, click on the purple crayon next to it, press and then press

If you are comfortable editing WKT (well know text), you can change the low level definition of a shape. When you open WKT, the current WKT definition of the shape appears in a text box. To change it, edit the definition and press .

Examples of Generated Polygons
Here are some examples of polygons generated from lines.
Note the holes in 2C. below, when the value of Buffer is 6.

1A. Original line

1B. Generated polygon, Buffer = 5

2A. Original line

2B. Generated polygon, Buffer = 10

2C. Generated polygon, Buffer = 6

3A. Generated polygon, Buffer = 1

3C. Generated polygon, Buffer = 2

3C. Generated polygon, Buffer = 3

Adding a Shape Record
To add a new record, press Add another. A panel opens up where you can enter the details of the record. The first thing to do is to choose what type of record you are making: a Polygon, a Line, or an Array of polygons.

Polygon or Line

    Press .

    Click on the map to add vertices. The first vertex appears as a white diamond, . Every other vertex appears as a yellow square, .

    Drawing a Polygon. As soon as you have clicked to define three vertices, the map shows a polygon with the inside shaded purple. Each new click on the map adds a vertex in between the first vertex and the last vertex.

    Drawing a Line. Each new click on the map adds a vertex to the end of the line.

    Drag a vertex to move it. Click directly on a vertex to delete it.

    Press when you are done.

    Press to move vertices, add new vertices, or delete vertices.

    Press to save the new record.

    (For a step-by-step explanation of the drawing process, see Drawing a Polygon.)

Array of Polygons
    Using this application it is possible to construct a multi polygon by assembling several simple polygons. You will need to know the ID number of every simple polygon to be included.

    Begin by checking Array of polygons. In the panel that opens, open Add a polygon. Enter the ID of a polygon (for instance, a value like "rs81423") and press . If the application can find that simple polygon, it will add it to the table below. You can add up to 36 simple polygons to an array.

    When you press , a multi polygon is created, and the geometry of each component polygon in the table is added to it. The multi polygon is stored in the database, and can be used in the same way as a simple polygon -- for instance, to limit the area of a search.

    When you edit the array later, you can remove component polygons or add new component polygons. It is not possible to change the geometry of the array's multi polygon directly.

    However, if you do change the geometry one of the component polygons, and you want the change to be reflected in the array's multi polygon, all you need to do is to edit the array and save it again -- it will pick up the changed geometry of the component. The component polygons themselves are not affected by being included in an array.

Note that if you have a shapefile containing plant observations, this is not the right application; if will be much easier if you use Observation Upload instead. Please contact Calflora support with any questions.

To upload a shapefile from your local computer, open Upload.

In Step 1, browse to find the four component files of a shapefile. (Note that the .prj file is necessary, and that .prj files are sometimes hidden on Windows systems.)

When you press , the shapefile is uploaded to the server and stored in a temporary database table.

When the upload is successful you will see this message:
In Step 2, you assign values to the new polygon records. You will see a few lines from the shapefile showing the available attributes. Choose which attribute should become the name of the polygon in your Calflora portfolio. You can also choose to associate all of these polygons with one of your groups. You can also assign a purpose for each polygon.

In the example on the right, the available attributes from the shapefile are LAYER, COUNT, CNPS, CHPTBNDA_, and CHPTBNDA_J. In this case, the user chose the attribute CNPS to become the name of the polygon -- by looking at the records in the table, you can see that this attribute has values like Dorothy King Young and Sanhedrin.

In this case, the user chose "search" as the value of Purpose, so that these polygons will be available for searching from applications such as Observation Search.

If you are planning to use the uploaded polygons in observation records, then set Purpose to "assessment", and they will be available from the Plant Observation Entry application.

Once you have assigned values, press .

When the records have been added, you will see this message:

To find the records you just added, use the search function of this application.

After you have searched for some shape records, you can download them to your computer, and then use them in desktop GIS. At the moment the only supported format is GeoJSON. If you need the shapes in a shapefile, download them as GeoJSON and then use QGIS to convert them to a shapefile.
The Purpose Attribute
Each shape record can have one of five possible purposes:
  • assessment: Part of an observation record that does not include treatment information. This line or polygon indicates the extent of a population of plants.

  • treatment: Part of an observation record that includes treatment information. This line or polygon indicates where the treatment occurred.

  • search: An area of interest for searching in Observation Search or What Grows Here?.

  • REGION: A variation of search. See Regions below.

  • TRAIL: A line indicating a trail.
If you are planning to use a polygon you see here as the polygon of an observation record, give it a name and and set Purpose to "assessment". Then it will be available in the Plant Observation Entry (POE) application. To find it in POE, open Shape and SAVED SHAPES, and choose it by name from the list.

If you are planning to use a polygon you see here as the polygon of an survey record, give it a name and and set Purpose to "assessment". Then it will be available in the Survey application.

This is especially pertinent to Weed Manager groups: if your group is responsible for certain management units, you can add the boundary polygons of those units to Calflora. The boundary polygon of a management unit is referred to as a region.

If you have a desktop GIS file containing the boundary polygons of your management units, upload it into Calflora with this application. Make sure that each polygon is owned by your group, and that the purpose is set to REGION.

Once region polygons are defined for your group, then when new observations come in associated with that group, the coordinates of the observation will be matched against region boundaries, and if possible, the Region field of the observation record will be assigned accordingly.

Also, if the folks in the field need to be able to easily determine whether they are inside or outside of a management unit, your group's region polygons can be loaded into the phone app. Each group member can use the Background Lines and Polygons application to choose which polygons they want to see on their phone.

See also Weed Manager / Regions.

Batch Edit
The Batch Editor is a feature of this application which can make changes to many of your records at the same time. It is a powerful and potentially dangerous tool.

Using the editor is a two step process. First, you use the criteria on the left hand side of the page to search for matching records. Then you open the editor, and specify a change to one or more fields. The editor will work only if you are able to edit all of the matching records.

To open the editor, enter some search criteria, press , and then open TOOLS and press .

In the editor panel, you can specify changes to the records that match your search. Once you have entered the changes you want to make, press . This action will ask you to confirm, and then apply the changes to all of the records that match your search, even if you cannot see them in the result table.

For instance, to associate all matching records with one of your groups, select the group from the Group drop down (bottom left). Press to make the changes happen.

You can also delete all matching records. First, search for the records you want to delete, and then press . This action will ask you to confirm, and then delete all of the matching records.

Note that changes made by the Editor are not recoverable.

Shapes on Observer Pro
Any named lines or polygons you make with this application can be loaded into the Observer Pro phone application. So, for instance, if you have a line representing a trail, you could load it into Observer Pro so that it sppears bright yellow. Then when you are in the field with your phone, you will know when you are close to that trail.

Use the Background Lines and Polygons application to choose which polygons you want to see on your phone.

• September, 2020:   In v. 1.40 there is a new Batch Editor function under TOOLS.

• January, 2020:   In v. 1.26 there is a new type, Array of polygons which is stored as a multi polygon in the database. It is also possible to split a multi polygon into separate simple polygon records.

• December, 2019:   In v. 1.23 the entry date of each shape appears in the table of results. You can also search by entry date.

• March, 2019:   In v. 1.09, when you are editing a shape, there is a new Select vertices by rectangle function. You can use this function to delete many vertices at once.

• January, 2018:   In v. 1.00, the generate a polygon function has been improved, and is now available with buffer values from 1 meter to 20 meters. Note that it can take a long time to run, more so with a large original line and/or a small buffer value.

• September, 2017:   As of v. 0.98, you can search by geometry type (eg. line polygon etc).

• June, 2017:   As of v. 0.95, this application can display multipolygons and polygons with holes. However, it is still possible to edit only simple polygons and lines.

• July, 2016:   As of v. 0.86, the editor panel opens under the selected record, instead of at the top of the page. Also, the vertice count of the selected shape is displayed.

• December, 2015:   As of v. 0.70, the shapefile uploader takes up more room on the page, so that it is easier to see the attributes.

• August, 2014:   As of v. 0.60, this application has the ability to upload a shapefile. The polygons in the shapefile can become part of your personal portfolio of shapes, or part of your group's portfolio of shapes.

REGION is a new possible value for purpose.

• August, 2014:   v. 0.59 (beta) released.