How do I generalize/simplify vector data?

Cartographica can simplify vector features to create features which have less complexity.   This is sometimes referred to as Generalization.  This is useful to create lower-resolution versions of data for export to other programs or when you just need the gist of the shape, not every nook and cranny.

To simplify a feature,  select one or more features in a vector layer.   Then, choose Tools > Simplify Selected Features... and you will be prompted to fill in some information.

  Simplify Window

Simplify to
This determines how much simplification is done. It is a measured radius for changes and is based on the scale of the layer. If the data is projected, you will choose either feet or meters, if not it will be measured in degrees.
Create New Layer vs Simplify in place
Determines whether the simplified features are stored in another layer or whether it replaces the existing data. We strongly encourage creating in a new layer first.
Copy feature data to simplified feature
If checked, the feature data will be copied to the new feature along with the modified geometry
Simplify in original features' projection
Determines the coordinate system used in simplification. By default, the simplification is done in the coordinate system of the original layer data. By unchecking this box, the simplification is performed in the coordinate system of the currently visible map. This is most useful if the original data is in a geographic coordinate system and the map is projected. This way, the simplification can be done in meters or feet
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