Manipulating ArcGIS Online services through REST with Python

This week, I faced the problem of having to delete 1.7 million features in a feature service in ArcGIS Online. Normally, I would make a remote connection to the server, access the geodatabase and delete the features with a few mouseclicks. However, ArcGIS Online has no such feature. So I had to resort to the REST interface to the feature service: deleteFeatures. The API reference can be found here. Pretty straightforward, I would say.

But after waiting for a few (or rather: a lot of) seconds, I got a server timeout. It seems that 1.7 million features is rather too much to manipulate through the REST interface. I had to do this in batches. When talking about batches, Python jumps to mind. So I constructed a very small Python script, that also can be used to demonstrate the way you can manipulate ArcGIS Online feature services through the REST interface.

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Distributing custom ArcGIS toolboxes using Python Modules

ArcGIS Python Toolbox Distribution folder structure

image: courtesy Esri

A colleague of mine (thanks Marc!) came across a very handy mechanism to distribute your ArcGIS Python toolboxes and script tools. You can build your own Python Distribution to encapsulate a custom Python module, accompanying toolboxes and helpfiles and distribute it to your audience, by utilizing the Python Distribution Utilities (Distutils). It also builds an installer (such as “mytool-1.0-win32.exe” for Windows), that will install your module in the site-packages directory.

If you include a subdirectory “esri” in your project (see screenshot), any toolboxes or script tools will appear in the Systems Toolboxes in ArcGIS for Desktop, which is also very convenient.

The mechanism is described in the ArcGIS Python Help (here). The help item neatly describes which steps to take and also which naming conventions apply.

Using an arcpy Python toolbox (.pyt) as a Print Service in ArcGIS for Server

A Python Toolbox

Python toolboxes in ArcGIS are great. They’re even better then regular Python script in Toolboxes. Let me explain why and show you how to use an Python toolbox in a Print Service in ArcGIS for Server.

Since many years now, when you do any geoprocessing in ArcGIS for Desktop, you are able to incorporate a script in an toolbox in ArcMap or ArcCatalog. This enables you to do some more customizing if compared to the “drag-and-drop” modelling in toolboxes.

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