Starting from 1.2 release, GPlates has scripting support using Python language. The GPlates Python APIs are a set of interfaces through which Python script can interact with GPlates. Python script can be executed either in the embedded Python Console or as a GPlates Python Plugin.

Python Console

To open embedded Python Console, select the Open Python Console menu item in the Utilities menu or press F12.



Python plugins

So far GPlates only allows users to provide Draw Style plugins, which can be used to control the appearance of geometries in globe or map view, for example colouring. More types of plugins will be supported in the future.

Draw Style plugins

The registered Draw Styles will be listed in the Draw Style Dialog.


The following paragraphs cover how to create a Draw Style plugin and register it with GPlates.

The following python code defines a Draw style plugin class called PlateId. It assigns a colour to the geometries contained in the given feature based on its plate id. The register() function at the bottom creates and registers an instance of the PlateId plugin with GPlates by calling the GPlates Python API function register_draw_style() and passing the PlateId instance as the function argument.

class PlateId:                                  # the definition of "Draw Style" plugin.
        def __init__(self):                     # standard Python constructor function.

        # The get_style() function is called by GPlates when rendering a feature.
        # A feature reference is passed in as function parameter.
        # The style data can be sent back by the "style" object reference.

        def get_style(self, feature, style):
                id = feature.plate_id()                 # get "plate id" from the feature
                id = int(id)                            # convert the id to integer
                palette = self.cfg['my_palette']        # get user-defined palette by name from configuration dict
                p_id = pygplates.PaletteKey(id)         # create a palette key from plate id
                style.colour = palette.get_color(p_id)  # get colour from palette and put it into style object

        def get_config(self):                           # GPlates calls this function to get configuration info
                self.cfg_dict = {}
                self.cfg_dict['my_palette/type'] = 'Palette'
                return self.cfg_dict

        def set_config(self, config):                   # GPlates calls this function to set configuration info
                self.cfg = config

def register():

The register() function in Python script files residing in the GPlates Python Script Directory will be called by GPlates automatically when GPlates starts up.

The get_config() function is called by GPlates to generate a Draw Style configuration GUI panel.


The following python code defines a Palette item called my_palette.

self.cfg_dict['my_palette/type'] = 'Palette'    # defines a Palette item called my_palette.

So far three types of configuration item are supported, namely Palette, Color and String.

The set_config() is called by GPlates to set the configuration dictionary into the current Python object instance, so that it can be retrieved later.

GPlates Python Script Directory

Currently, GPlates looks into two directories for Python script files.

  • ./scripts

  • $system_app_data_dir/script

The Python Script Directory setting can be changed in the Preferences Dialog. To open the Preferences Dialog, select the Preferences menu in the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+,.