Posted by & filed under QGIS.

Batch importing data into PostGIS is a topic I have covered previously in my article on importing CDSM (Chief Directorate: Surveys and Mapping) data into postgis. However its a popular question I get asked so today I am going to take another look at the problem. In particular the client has a directory heirachy of zipped shapefiles divided by regions in Africa. The shapefiles use a common naming convention which makes things easier. The convention is basically something like:

<number><region_name>/<region_abbreviation>_master/<region_abbreviation>_<feature_type>_<feature name>.zip

For example:

02 Mozambique Malawi/moz_master/

When unzipped the shapefiles are consistently named across regions e.g.:


From that we can define a few rules:

  • Recurse the top level directory looking for all zip files
  • Get the base name of the zip file without its extension (e.g. moz_a_parks)
  • Strip the region off the base name – this will give us the standard feature class name / table name used across all regions for that feature type.
  • Extract the zip file to /tmp
  • If the feature class / table does not exist in PostGIS, import it with the -c (create) option
  • Otherwise import it with the -a (append) option

So here is the little script I wrote that achieves this.

IFS="$(echo -e '\n\r')";
FILES=$(find -name "*.zip"); 
for FILE in $FILES
  BASE=$(basename $FILE .zip)
  TABLE=$( echo $BASE | sed 's/^[a-z]*_//g')
  # double check the extracted files have been cleaned up or zip will moan
  rm /tmp/${BASE}.*
  echo "$BASE to $TABLE"
  unzip -d /tmp $FILE
  MATCH=$(echo "\d" | psql ${DATABASE} | grep -o "${TABLE}")
  if [ "$MATCH" ]
    # Append to the exisitng table
    echo "Appending to ${TABLE}"
    shp2pgsql -s 4326 -I -S -a -W UTF-8 "/tmp/${BASE}.shp" $TABLE | psql $DATABASE
    # Create the table
    echo "Creating $TABLE"
    shp2pgsql -s 4326 -I -S -c -W UTF-8 "/tmp/${BASE}.shp" $TABLE | psql $DATABASE
  # clean up
  rm /tmp/${BASE}.*          

If your shapefiles are already unzipped into a directory structure, you could easily modify the script above to find ‘.shp’ files rather than zip files and leave out hte unzipping , cleaning up steps.

Once you have run the scripts, open your favourite PostGIS client (I use psql) and take a look at the tables created there. If all looks good you should be able to start browsing the datasets with QGIS or publishing them with Mapserver!