NCL Home > Documentation > Graphics > Graphical Interfaces


Attaches shapefile polygon data to the given plot(s) using randomly-filled polygons.


load "$NCARG_ROOT/lib/ncarg/nclscripts/csm/gsn_code.ncl"  ; This library is automatically loaded
                                                          ; from NCL V6.2.0 onward.
                                                          ; No need for user to explicitly load.

	function gsn_add_shapefile_polylines (
		wks      [1] : graphic,  
		plot     [*] : graphic,  
		shp_name [1] : string,   
		res      [1] : logical   

	return_val [*] :  graphic



A Workstation identifier. The identifier is one returned either from calling gsn_open_wks or calling create to create a Workstation object.


A plot identifier created by using one of the many gsn functions, or by calling create to create a View object.

In version 6.2.1 of NCL, this function was enhanced to allow an array of plot identifiers.


The name of the shapefile, xxxx.shp that contains polygon data to attach to the given plot(s).


A variable containing an optional list of polygon resources, attached as attributes. Set to True if you want the attached attributes to be applied, and False if you either don't have any resources to set, or you don't want the resources applied.

Return value

An array or scalar representing the id of the polygons attached is returned. If you call any other gsn_add_polyxxxxx functions for attaching markers, lines, or polygons, then you must assign each of their return values to a unique variable name.


This function reads in the given shapefile using addfile, reads the lat/lon information off the file, and attaches the lat/lon segments as filled polygons to the given plot(s) using gsn_add_polygon. The "geometry_type" global attribute of the shapefile must be "polygon".

The ability to attach the shapefile polylines to multiple input multiple plots was added in V6.2.1.

The polygons are filled in random colors. You can set the fill color using the gsFillColor resource, but then all polygons will be filled in that color.

This function only attaches the polygons to the plot(s); it doesn't draw them. Hence, you can only see the polygons when you call draw or gsn_panel on the plots you attached them to.

Note: in NCL version 6.2.0, this routine was significantly sped up, because it no longer creates individual objects for each polyline or polygon segment added.

You can use any of the polygon resources in the GraphicStyle object to customize the polygons. Some common ones are:

If you resize the plots (i.e., by passing the plot to gsn_panel or setting the vpWidthF or vpHeightF resources), then the polygons will be automatically resized with each plot.

See Also

gsn_polygon, gsn_polymarker, gsn_polyline, gsn_polygon_ndc, gsn_polymarker_ndc, gsn_polyline_ndc, gsn_add_polygon, gsn_add_polymarker, gsn_add_polyline, gsn_text, gsn_text_ndc, gsn_add_text, gsn_add_shapefile_polylines, gsn_add_shapefile_polymarkers, NhlNewMarker, NhlNewDashPattern


Example 1

This example shows how to fill in the indigenous areas of Australia using random colors.

load "$NCARG_ROOT/lib/ncarg/nclscripts/csm/gsn_code.ncl"
load "$NCARG_ROOT/lib/ncarg/nclscripts/csm/gsn_csm.ncl"

; This function creates a cylindrical equidistant map of Australia
; so you you can add polylines, polygons, or point data to it later.
function create_map(wks,title)
local a, res2
  res2               = True
  res2@gsnMaximize   = True
  res2@gsnDraw       = False
  res2@gsnFrame      = False

  res2@mpOutlineOn   = True
  res2@mpFillOn      = False  
  res2@mpDataBaseVersion = "MediumRes"

;---Turn on fancier tickmark labels.
  res2@pmTickMarkDisplayMode = "Always"

;---Zoom in on area of interest
  res2@mpLimitMode           = "LatLon"
  res2@mpMinLatF             = -45
  res2@mpMaxLatF             =  -6
  res2@mpMinLonF             = 110
  res2@mpMaxLonF             = 155

  res2@tiMainString          = title

;---Create map.
  map = gsn_csm_map(wks,res2)


; Main code
; This shapefile was obtained from:
  filename = "IARE06aAUST_region.shp"

;--- Open workstation.
  wks = gsn_open_wks("x11","shapefiles")

;---Create the map
  map = create_map(wks,"Indigenous Areas")

;---Attach the filled polygons
  pres = True
  poly = gsn_add_shapefile_polygons(wks,map,filename,pres)

;---Drawing the map will also draw the attached polygons.