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Learn how to use Python in ArcGIS

If you're new to programming, Python may be the language you want to learn. It's easy to pick up and it's used by the higher education and by the professional GIS community. Find out what resources are available to you.

Python is an easy-to-learn, open-source programming language that's widely used in higher education and in the professional GIS user community. It's the preferred scripting language for geoprocessing users and can be used for large projects or small scripts. The ArcPy site package makes all of the familiar ArcGIS tools available in Python to help you complete simple geoprocessing tasks or complex workflows efficiently.

There are many resources available to help users of all levels. Begin your Python and ArcPy education with these newly created tutorials from Esri Canada’s Education and Research group:

  • Python Basics
    Learn basic concepts about the Python language, including code structure and syntax.
  • Introduction to Results, Python Snippets and ModelBuilder
    Learn how to use the Results and Python windows and ModelBuilder to accomplish simple, repetitive tasks.
  • Introduction to Python Scripting with ArcPy
    Examine a Python script exported from a ModelBuilder model and learn how to modify it to run as a stand-alone script.
  • Working with Feature Classes in ArcPy
    Learn how to create a script that outputs the contents of a feature class to the screen then build on that script, copying the features to a new feature class then adding a new field and modifying values in the attribute table.
  • Selecting Features in ArcPy
    Learn how to create a script that selects a polygon from one feature class based on its attributes and then selects all of the features from another feature class that are within the first selection.
  • Creating a Script Tool
    Learn how to use the Add Script wizard to create a script tool, how to modify a stand-alone script so that it will output messages in the progress dialog window and how to add parameters to scripts and script tools.

For more information on Python, visit the Python for ArcGIS resources page.

Check out the book on Python Scripting in ArcGIS. It's a guide for experienced users of ArcGIS Desktop to get started with Python scripting without needing previous programming experience.

Visit Esri Canada’s Lesson Planner to find more ArcGIS resources for Education.

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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