QGIS: Obtaining Existing Vector Layer (shapefile of buildings, roads, POI, etc.) without Digitizing

Vector provides simplicity for editing, scaling, and updating since it’s based on mathematical calculations from one point to another. Raster, on the other hand, is made from pixels. It is way more difficult to edit and update as it merely stores pixel, lacking data calculations. A map service providing the vector data is OpenStreetMap.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a joint project to create a for-all editable map of the world. Editable map means everyone could joint to add, edit, and improve the vector of the map. It is also free. The license is Open Database License (ODbL), a copyleft (“share alike”) license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use a database while maintaining this same freedom for others.

  1. To add the OSM’s vector data on QGIS, we need to use a plugin called “Vector Tiles Reader” (it’s the only plugin supporting QGIS 3.0 at the moment that provides the ability to add OSM’s vector). Install it on QGIS.

    Vector Tiles Reader Plugin

  2. Open Vector Tiles Reader menu under vector menu and select Add Vector Tiles Layer. In the connections selection tab, we can pick either Mapcat.com (default entry with credits) or OpenMapTiles.com (default entry with credits). If OpenMapTiles map API key is present, we can choose the third. We can obtain the key from https://www.tilehosting.com/. Click connect so OSM’s layers appear on the layers window. Click Add.

    Vector Tiles Reader Menu

    Add layer(s) window

  3. A group of layers will appear in QGIS Layer Window. To save one of the layers as SHP (ESRI format), choose a layer to save (for example building) and click save as. The new saved SHP layer will automatically add to QGIS layer window.

    Save layer as window

    OSM’s Group of Layers on QGIS Layer Window

    Right-click > Attribute Tables on a saved vector shapefile showing its data

    As it said before, Obtaining Vector Shapefile without any digitizing (kind of) 😀

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