The Expressions feature is available from many parts in QGIS. It can be
accessed using the ^{Expression Builder}, the
^{Select By Expression...}, the *Geometry generator*
symbol layer option, the ^{Field calculator} or the
^{Data defined override} tool.
Based on layer data and prebuilt or user defined functions,
it offers a powerful way to manipulate attribute value, geometry and variables in
order to dynamically change the geometry style, the content or position
of the label, the value for diagram, the height of a composer item,
select some features, create virtual field ...

**Some examples:**

From Field Calculator, calculate a “pop_density” field using existing “total_pop” and “area_km2” fields:

"total_pop" / "area_km2"

Update the field “density_level” with categories according to the “pop_density” values:

CASE WHEN "pop_density" < 50 THEN 'Low population density' WHEN "pop_density" >= 50 and "pop_density" < 150 THEN 'Medium population density' WHEN "pop_density" >= 150 THEN 'High population density' END

Apply a categorized style to all the features according to whether their average house price is smaller or higher than 10000€ per square metre:

"price_m2" > 10000

Using the “Select By Expression...” tool, select all the features representing areas of “High population density” and whose average house price is higher than 10000€ per square metre:

"density_level" = 'High population density' and "price_m2" > 10000

Likewise, the previous expression could also be used to define which features should be labeled or shown in the map. Using expressions offers you a lot of possibilities.

The **Expressions** feature offers access to the:

*Expression*tab which lists functions to use*Function Editor*tab which helps to create custom functions to use in the expressions.

**Figure Expression 1:**

The **Expression** tab contains functions as well as layer’s fields and values.
It contains widgets to:

- type expressions using functions and/or fields. A preview of the expression’s result is displayed at the bottom of the dialog.
- select the appropriate function among a list. A search box is available to filter the list and quickly find a particular function or field. Double-clicking on the item’s name adds it to the expression being written.
- display help for each function selected. When a field is selected, this widget shows a sample of its values. Double-clicking a value adds it to the expression.

To help to quickly find a function, they are organized in groups.
In *Operators*, you find mathematical operators.
Look in *Math* for mathematical functions.
The *Conversions* group contains functions that convert one
data type to another.
The *String* group provides functions for data strings,
such as *Date and Time* handles date and time data.
In the *Geometry* group, you find functions for geometry objects.
With *Record* group functions, you can add a numeration to your data set
while *Fields and Values* group helps view all attributes of the attribute table.
The *Customs* group lists the functions created or imported by the user.
There are many other groups, listed below.

This group contains operators (e.g., +, -, *). Note that for most of the mathematical functions below, if one of the inputs is NULL then the result is NULL.

Function | Description |
---|---|

a + b | Addition of two values (a plus b) |

a - b | Subtraction of two values (a minus b). |

a * b | Multiplication of two values (a multiplied by b) |

a / b | Division of two values (a divided by b) |

a % b | Remainder of division of a by b (eg, 7 % 2 = 1, or 2 fits into 7 three times with remainder 1) |

a ^ b | Power of two values (for example, 2^2=4 or 2^3=8) |

a < b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if the left value is less than the right value (a is smaller than b) |

a <= b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if the left value is less than or equal to the right value |

a <> b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if they are not equal |

a = b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if they are equal |

a != b | a and b are not equal |

a > b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if the left value is greater than the right value (a is larger than b) |

a >= b | Compares two values and evaluates to 1 if the left value is greater than or equal to the right value |

a ~ b | a matches the regular expression b |

|| | Joins two values together into a string. If one of the values is NULL the result will be NULL |

‘\n’ | Inserts a new line in a string |

LIKE | Returns 1 if the first parameter matches the supplied pattern |

ILIKE | Returns 1 if the first parameter matches case-insensitive the supplied pattern (ILIKE can be used instead of LIKE to make the match case-insensitive) |

a IS b | Tests whether two values are identical. Returns 1 if a is the same as b |

a OR b | Returns 1 when condition a or b is true |

a AND b | Returns 1 when condition a and b are true |

NOT | Negates a condition |

column name “column name” | Value of the field column name, take care to not be confused with simple quote, see below |

‘string’ | a string value, take care to not be confused with double quote, see above |

NULL | null value |

a IS NULL | a has no value |

a IS NOT NULL | a has a value |

a IN (value[,value]) | a is below the values listed |

a NOT IN (value[,value]) | a is not below the values listed |

**Some examples:**

Joins a string and a value from a column name:

'My feature''s id is: ' || "gid"

Test if the “description” attribute field starts with the ‘Hello’ string in the value (note the position of the % character):

"description" LIKE 'Hello%'

This group contains functions to handle conditional checks in expressions.

Function | Description |
---|---|

CASE WHEN ... THEN ... END | Evaluates an expression and returns a result if true. You can test multiple conditions |

CASE WHEN ... THEN ... ELSE ... END | Evaluates an expression and returns a different result whether it’s true or false. You can test multiple conditions |

coalesce | Returns the first non-NULL value from the expression list |

if | Tests a condition and returns a different result depending on the conditional check |

regexp_match | Returns true if any part of a string matches the supplied regular expression |

**Some example:**

Send back a value if the first condition is true, else another value:

CASE WHEN "software" LIKE '%QGIS%' THEN 'QGIS' ELSE 'Other' END

This group contains math functions (e.g., square root, sin and cos).

Function | Description |
---|---|

abs | Returns the absolute value of a number |

acos | Returns the inverse cosine of a value in radians |

asin | Returns the inverse sine of a value in radians |

atan | Returns the inverse cosine of a value in radians |

atan2(y,x) | Returns the inverse tangent of y/x by using the signs of the two arguments to determine the quadrant of the result |

azimuth(a,b) | Returns the north-based azimuth as the angle in radians measured clockwise from the vertical on point a to point b |

ceil | Rounds a number upwards |

clamp | Restricts an input value to a specified range |

cos | Returns the cosine of a value in radians |

degrees | Converts from radians to degrees |

exp | Returns exponential of a value |

floor | Rounds a number downwards |

ln | Returns the natural logarithm of the passed expression |

log | Returns the value of the logarithm of the passed value and base |

log10 | Returns the value of the base 10 logarithm of the passed expression |

max | Returns the largest value in a set of values |

min | Returns the smallest value in a set of values |

pi | Returns the value of pi for calculations |

radians | Converts from degrees to radians |

rand | Returns the random integer within the range specified by the minimum and maximum argument (inclusive) |

randf | Returns the random float within the range specified by the minimum and maximum argument (inclusive) |

round | Rounds to number of decimal places |

scale_exp | Transforms a given value from an input domain to an output range using an exponential curve |

scale_linear | Transforms a given value from an input domain to an output range using linear interpolation |

sin | Returns the sine of an angle |

sqrt | Returns the square root of a value |

tan | Returns the tangent of an angle |

This group contains functions for manipulating colors.

Function | Description |
---|---|

color_cmyk | Returns a string representation of a color based on its cyan, magenta, yellow and black components |

color_cmyka | Returns a string representation of a color based on its cyan, magenta, yellow, black and alpha (transparency) components |

color_hsl | Returns a string representation of a color based on its hue, saturation, and lightness attributes |

color_hsla | Returns a string representation of a color based on its hue, saturation, lightness and alpha (transparency) attributes |

color_hsv | Returns a string representation of a color based on its hue, saturation, and value attributes |

color_hsva | Returns a string representation of a color based on its hue, saturation, value and alpha (transparency) attributes |

color_part | Returns a specific component from a color string, eg the red component or alpha component |

color_rgb | Returns a string representation of a color based on its red, green, and blue components |

color_rgba | Returns a string representation of a color based on its red, green, blue, and alpha (transparency) components |

darker | Returns a darker (or lighter) color string |

lighter | Returns a lighter (or darker) color string |

project_color | Returns a color from the project’s color scheme |

ramp_color | Returns a string representing a color from a color ramp |

set_color_part | Sets a specific color component for a color string, eg the red component or alpha component |

This group contains functions to convert one data type to another (e.g., string to integer, integer to string).

Function | Description |
---|---|

to_date | Converts a string into a date object |

to_datetime | Converts a string into a datetime object |

to_int | Converts a string to integer number |

to_interval | Converts a string to an interval type (can be used to take days, hours, months, etc. of a date) |

to_real | Converts a string to a real number |

to_string | Converts number to string |

to_time | Converts a string into a time object |

This group contains functions created by the user. See function_editor for more details.

This group contains functions for handling date and time data.

Function | Description |
---|---|

age | Returns as an interval the difference between two dates or datetimes |

day | Extracts the day from a date or datetime, or the number of days from an interval |

day_of_week | Returns a number corresponding to the day of the week for a specified date or datetime |

hour | Extracts the hour from a datetime or time, or the number of hours from an interval |

minute | Extracts the minute from a datetime or time, or the number of minutes from an interval |

month | Extracts the month part from a date or datetime, or the number of months from an interval |

now() | Returns current date and time |

second | Extracts the second from a datetime or time, or the number of seconds from an interval |

week | Extracts the week number from a date or datetime, or the number of weeks from an interval |

year | Extracts the year part from a date or datetime, or the number of years from an interval |

**Some example:**

Get the month and the year of today in the format “10/2014”

month(now()) || '/' || year(now())

Contains a list of fields from the layer.

Generally, you can use the various fields, values and functions to construct the calculation expression, or you can just type it into the box.

To display the values of a field, you just click on the
appropriate field and choose between *Load top 10 unique values*
and *Load all unique values*. On the right side, the **Field Values**
list opens with the unique values. At the top of the list, a search box helps
filtering the values. To add a value to the expression you are writing,
double click its name in the list.

Sample values can also be accessed via right-click. Select the field name from the list, then right-click to access a context menu with options to load sample values from the selected field.

Fields name should be double-quoted in the expression. Values or string should be simple-quoted.

This group contains functions for fuzzy comparisons between values.

Function | Description |
---|---|

hamming_distance | Returns the number of characters at corresponding positions within the input strings where the characters are different |

levensheim | Returns the minimum number of character edits (insertions, deletions or substitutions) required to change one string to another. Measure the similarity between two strings |

longest_common_substring | Returns the longest common substring between two strings |

soundex | Returns the Soundex representation of a string |

This group contains general assorted functions.

Function | Description |
---|---|

eval | Evaluates an expression which is passed in a string. Useful to expand dynamic parameters passed as context variables or fields |

layer_property | Returns a property of a layer or a value of its metadata. It can be layer name, crs, geometry type, feature count... |

var | Returns the value stored within a specified variable. See variable functions below |

This group contains functions that operate on geometry objects (e.g., length, area).

Function | Description |
---|---|

$area | Returns the area size of the current feature |

$geometry | Returns the geometry of the current feature (can be used for processing with other functions) |

$length | Returns the length of the current line feature |

$perimeter | Returns the perimeter of the current polygon feature |

$x | Returns the x coordinate of the current feature |

$x_at(n) | Returns the x coordinate of the nth node of the current feature’s geometry |

$y | Returns the y coordinate of the current feature |

$y_at(n) | Returns the y coordinate of the nth node of the current feature’s geometry |

area | Returns the area of a geometry polygon feature. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

bounds | Returns a geometry which represents the bounding box of an input geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this Geometry |

bounds_height | Returns the height of the bounding box of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this Geometry |

bounds_width | Returns the width of the bounding box of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this Geometry |

buffer | Returns a geometry that represents all points whose distance from this geometry is less than or equal to distance. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

centroid | Returns the geometric center of a geometry |

closest_point | Returns the point on a geometry that is closest to a second geometry |

combine | Returns the combination of two geometries |

contains(a,b) | Returns 1 (true) if and only if no points of b lie in the exterior of a, and at least one point of the interior of b lies in the interior of a |

convex_hull | Returns the convex hull of a geometry (this represents the minimum convex geometry that encloses all geometries within the set) |

crosses | Returns 1 (true) if the supplied geometries have some, but not all, interior points in common |

difference(a,b) | Returns a geometry that represents that part of geometry a that does not intersect with geometry b |

disjoint | Returns 1 (true) if the geometries do not share any space together |

distance | Returns the minimum distance (based on spatial ref) between two geometries in projected units |

end_point | Returns the last node from a geometry |

exterior_ring | Returns a line string representing the exterior ring of a polygon geometry. If the geometry is not a polygon then the result will be null |

extrude(geom,x,y) | Returns an extruded version of the input (Multi-)Curve or (Multi-)Linestring geometry with an extension specified by x and y |

geom_from_gml | Returns a geometry created from a GML representation of geometry |

geom_from_wkt | Returns a geometry created from a well-known text (WKT) representation |

geom_to_wkt | Returns the well-known text (WKT) representation of the geometry without SRID metadata |

geometry | Returns a feature’s geometry |

geometry_n | Returns the nth geometry from a geometry collection, or null if the input geometry is not a collection |

interior_ring_n | Returns the geometry of the nth interior ring from a polygon geometry, or null if the geometry is not a polygon |

intersection | Returns a geometry that represents the shared portion of two geometries |

intersects | Tests whether a geometry intersects another. Returns 1 (true) if the geometries spatially intersect (share any portion of space) and 0 if they don’t |

intersects_bbox | Tests whether a geometry’s bounding box overlaps another geometry’s bounding box. Returns 1 (true) if the geometries spatially intersect (share any portion of space) their bounding box and 0 if they don’t |

is_closed | Returns true if a line string is closed (start and end points are coincident), false if a line string is not closed and null if the geometry is not a line string |

length | Returns length of a line geometry feature (or length of a string) |

m | Returns the m value of a point geometry |

make_line | Creates a line geometry from a series of point geometries |

make_point(x,y,z,m) | Returns a point geometry from x and y values (and optional z and m values) |

make_point_m(x,y,m) | Returns a point geometry from x and y coordinates and m values |

make_polygon | Creates a polygon geometry from an outer ring and optional series of inner ring geometries |

nodes_to_points | Returns a multipoint geometry consisting of every node in the input geometry |

num_geometries | Returns the number of geometries in a geometry collection, or null if the input geometry is not a collection |

num_interior_rings | Returns the number of interior rings in a polygon or geometry collection, or null if the input geometry is not a polygon or collection |

num_points | Returns the number of vertices in a geometry |

num_rings | Returns the number of rings (including exterior rings) in a polygon or geometry collection, or null if the input geometry is not a polygon or collection |

order_parts | Orders the parts of a MultiGeometry by a given criteria |

overlaps | Tests whether a geometry overlaps another. Returns 1 (true) if the geometries share space, are of the same dimension, but are not completely contained by each other |

perimeter | Returns the perimeter of a geometry polygon feature. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

point_n | Returns a specific node from a geometry |

point_on_surface | Returns a point guaranteed to lie on the surface of a geometry |

relate | Tests or returns the Dimensional Extended 9 Intersection Model (DE-9IM) representation of the relationship between two geometries |

reverse | Reverses the direction of a line string by reversing the order of its vertices |

segments_to_lines | Returns a multi line geometry consisting of a line for every segment in the input geometry |

shortest_line | Returns the shortest line joining two geometries. The resultant line will start at geometry 1 and end at geometry 2 |

start_point | Returns the first node from a geometry |

sym_difference | Returns a geometry that represents the portions of two geometries that do not intersect |

touches | Tests whether a geometry touches another. Returns 1 (true) if the geometries have at least one point in common, but their interiors do not intersect |

transform | Returns the geometry transformed from the source CRS to the destination CRS |

translate | Returns a translated version of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

union | Returns a geometry that represents the point set union of the geometries |

within (a,b) | Tests whether a geometry is within another. Returns 1 (true) if geometry a is completely inside geometry b |

x | Returns the x coordinate of a point geometry, or the x coordinate of the centroid for a non-point geometry |

x_min | Returns the minimum x coordinate of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

x_max | Returns the maximum x coordinate of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

y | Returns the y coordinate of a point geometry, or the y coordinate of the centroid for a non-point geometry |

y_min | Returns the minimum y coordinate of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

y_max | Returns the maximum y coordinate of a geometry. Calculations are in the Spatial Reference System of this geometry |

z | Returns the z coordinate of a point geometry |

**Some examples:**

Return the x coordinate of the current feature’s centroid:

x($geometry)

Send back a value according to feature’s area:

CASE WHEN $area > 10 000 THEN 'Larger' ELSE 'Smaller' END

This group contains functions that operate on record identifiers.

Function | Description |
---|---|

$currentfeature | Returns the current feature being evaluated. This can be used with the ‘attribute’ function to evaluate attribute values from the current feature. |

$id | Returns the feature id of the current row |

$map | Returns the id of the current map item if the map is being drawn in a composition, or “canvas” if the map is being drawn within the main QGIS window |

$rownum | Returns the number of the current row |

$scale | Returns the current scale of the map canvas |

attribute | Returns the value of a specified attribute from a feature. |

get_feature | Returns the first feature of a layer matching a given attribute value. |

uuid | Generates a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) for each row. Each UUID is 38 characters long |

**Some examples:**

Return the first feature in layer “LayerA” whose field “id” has the same value as the field “name” of the current feature (a kind of jointure):

get_feature( 'layerA', 'id', attribute( $currentfeature, 'name') )

Calculate the area of the joined feature from the previous example:

area( geometry( get_feature( 'layerA', 'id', attribute( $currentfeature, 'name') ) ) )

This group contains functions that operate on strings (e.g., that replace, convert to upper case).

Function | Description |
---|---|

concat | Concatenates several strings to one |

format | Formats a string using supplied arguments |

format_date | Formats a date type or string into a custom string format |

format_number | Returns a number formatted with the locale separator for thousands (also truncates the number to the number of supplied places) |

left(string, n) | Returns a substring that contains the n leftmost characters of the string |

length | Returns length of a string (or length of a line geometry feature) |

lower | converts a string to lower case |

lpad | Returns a string with supplied width padded using the fill character |

regexp_replace | Returns a string with the supplied regular expression replaced |

regexp_substr | Returns the portion of a string which matches a supplied regular expression |

replace | Returns a string with the supplied string replaced |

right(string, n) | Returns a substring that contains the n rightmost characters of the string |

rpad | Returns a string with supplied width padded using the fill character |

strpos | Returns the index of a regular expression in a string |

substr | Returns a part of a string |

title | Converts all words of a string to title case (all words lower case with leading capital letter) |

trim | Removes all leading and trailing white space (spaces, tabs, etc.) from a string |

upper | Converts string a to upper case |

wordwrap | Returns a string wrapped to a maximum/ minimum number of characters |

This group contains recently used functions. Any expression used in the Expression dialog is added to the list, sorted from the more recent to the less one. This helps to quickly retrieve any previous expression.

This group contains dynamic variables related to the application, the project file and other settings. It means that some functions may not be available according to the context:

- from the
^{Select by expression}dialog - from the
^{Field calculator}dialog - from the layer properties dialog
- from the print composer

To use these functions in an expression, they should be preceded by @ character (e.g, @row_number). Are concerned:

Function | Description |
---|---|

atlas_feature | Returns the current atlas feature (as feature object) |

atlas_featureid | Returns the current atlas feature ID |

atlas_featurenumber | Returns the number of pages in composition |

atlas_filename | Returns the current atlas file name |

atlas_geometry | Returns the current atlas feature geometry |

atlas_pagename | Returns the current atlas page name |

atlas_totalfeatures | Returns the total number of features in atlas |

grid_axis | Returns the current grid annotation axis (eg, ‘x’ for longitude, ‘y’ for latitude) |

grid_number | Returns the current grid annotation value |

item_id | Returns the composer item user ID (not necessarily unique) |

item_uuid | Returns the composer item unique ID |

layer_id | Returns the ID of current layer |

layer_name | Returns the name of current layer |

layout_dpi | Returns the composition resolution (DPI) |

layout_numpages | Returns the number of pages in the composition |

layout_pageheight | Returns the composition height in mm |

layout_pagewidth | Returns the composition width in mm |

map_id | Returns the ID of current map destination. This will be ‘canvas’ for canvas renders, and the item ID for composer map renders |

map_extent_center | Returns the point feature at the center of the map |

map_extent_height | Returns the current height of the map |

map_extent_width | Returns the current width of the map |

map_rotation | Returns the current rotation of the map |

map_scale | Returns the current scale of the map |

project_filename | Returns the filename of current project |

project_folder | Returns the folder for current project |

project_path | Returns the full path (including file name) of current project |

project_title | Returns the title of current project |

qgis_os_name | Returns the current Operating system name, eg ‘windows’, ‘linux’ or ‘osx’ |

qgis_platform | Returns the QGIS platform, eg ‘desktop’ or ‘server’ |

qgis_release_name | Returns the current QGIS release name |

qgis_version | Returns the current QGIS version string |

qgis_version_no | Returns the current QGIS version number |

symbol_angle | Returns the angle of the symbol used to render the feature (valid for marker symbols only) |

symbol_color | Returns the color of the symbol used to render the feature |

user_account_name | Returns the current user’s operating system account name |

user_full_name | Returns the current user’s operating system user name |

row_number | Stores the number of the current row |

With the Function Editor, you are able to define your own Python custom functions in a comfortable way.

**Figure Expression 2:**

The function editor will create new Python files in `.qgis2\python\expressions`
folder and will auto load all functions defined when starting QGIS. Be aware
that new functions are only saved in the `expressions` folder and not in
the project file. If you have a project that uses one of your custom functions
you will need to also share the .py file in the expressions folder.

Here’s a short example on how to create your own functions:

```
@qgsfunction(args="auto", group='Custom')
def myfunc(value1, value2, feature, parent):
pass
```

The short example creates a function ‘myfunc’ that will give you a function with two values. When using the args=’auto’ function argument the number of function arguments required will be calculated by the number of arguments the function has been defined with in Python (minus 2 - feature, and parent).

This function then can be used with the following expression:

```
myfunc('test1', 'test2')
```

Your function will be implemented in the *Custom* functions group of
the *Expression* tab after using the *Run Script* button.

Further information about creating Python code can be found in the
*PyQGIS cookbook*.

The function editor is not only limited to working with the field calculator, it can be found whenever you work with expressions.