New Rectangle and Circle Drawing Tools for Web Explore Page

iNatter @benkeen added new shape drawing functionality to iNat’s website Explore screen - thank you, Ben!

You should now see the following rectangle and circle tools in the map view at :


If you select either one of those shapes, you can then draw that shape directly on the map to restrict your search’s area.

Here’s an example of using the circle tool. (Note that when drawing a circle, its center will be where you start drawing the circle.)

Start with:

And then draw a circle to limit your search area:

You can expand the shape by dragging one of the white points (yellow arrow) or drag the entire shape by using the move tool on the bottom (red arrow):


Note that when you draw, resize, or move a shape, the search URL also changes to reflect the search, so you can bookmark that shape search if you want. The shape is using the Bounding Box and Circle URL params described here.

Click on either Reset (yellow arrow) or on the X next to Custom Boundary (red arrow) to remove the shape.

Or you can just click on the Draw a rectangle/Draw a circle icon to make a new shape and remove the existing one.

Depending on character size, word length, and window size, the buttons might appear in a second row. For example, here’s what it looks like in Greek on my laptop:

Finally, if you click on “Redo search in map”, iNat will now zoom out a bit to give your new selection some context and show a clear border.

There may be some bugs and other issues, and this tool has not been translated into every langauge on iNat yet.

If you find a bug, please write a detailed report in #bug-reports.

I’ll also post these instructions in #tutorials.


That’s awesome!


Whoa! I was just exploring for observations around a national park in Mexico, and was about to try to craft a URL to create a circle of the right size and location. And then I saw that these circle and square tools had been added. Exactly what I needed! Thanks, @benkeen!


That is super cool - I’ve been hoping for this feature since ages!

Now, could we have a polygon drawing tool as well as an upload function, eg for kml files, to perform even more customized searches, or would this blow up the servers somewhere?

In the meanwhile: a big fat THANK YOU, @benkeen!


That’s GREAT!!
It spares getting coordinates on a paper and rebuilding the URL with corners.
Thanks+++ :-)


Would love to have this but I can’t make any promises.


Thats awesome! How often I was trying to find a place that would roughly fit my needs, but then it always was either to small or to large. Now I can get just what I need. Thanks!


Would it be possible to allow multiple rectangles/circles to be utilized at once to vaguely mimic a polygon if full polygons won’t work?


Nice! I was having to do this by editing the URL and it could be a pain to get it just right.

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Wow! Thanks! Ya’ll do a great job we couldn’t think you enough.

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Fantastic! This will help with things enormously.

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Thank you!!! :face_holding_back_tears:

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Super cool! Thanks @benkeen! That’s going to be very useful. I like how it can be dragged about and resized.


A very handy feature, a big thank you to the team behind it!!! :D

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I know such a feature used to be avalable for creating custom Places that didn’t already exist in iNaturalist. I used this to create boundaries for several community gardens in Brooklyn, NYC.

At some point that feature was removed. Now you have to import KML to create a Place. I think that may work for @jakob’s use case.

I now use Google Maps to draw my custom Places and export to KML. I have to manually edit the KML a bit for iNaturalist to accept it. Then I can import it to iNat when creating the Place.

Cool - I found this feature this morning - now I don’t need to resize my window to what I wanted when searching species in an area.

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Whenever Facebook updates, I always groan. New designs and features on Facebook always clutter everything.
Whenever iNaturalist updates, it’s consistently based on good ideas. I love the simplicity and consistency of iNaturalist and how it just isn’t complicated! Thank you for putting such good thought behind the design. I love this new feature.


I’ve been wanting a function like this for a while now. I’ve already used the new feature several times now. It rocks; you guys rock! Thanks a bunch!

I found these new tools helpful. But, it was difficult to find where I wanted my center point to be with all the initial observations.

Can there be a function added where, when a user clicks on either the circle or rectangle, that the Explore map clears all observation markers to reveal the map?

To compensate for this, I made a tiny circle near where I wanted the final circle to be. (In this case, it was an area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.) That cleared the map so I could see where I really wanted to make the center point.


You could first filter for observations of polar bears - that might considerably decrease the number of obervations in your area, giving a clear view on the map. But your solution of a secondary circle also is a quick way to clear the map