Create feature classes from a pandas data frame

I had a large CAD drawing which I had brought into ArcGIS, converted to a feature class and classified groups of features using a 3 letter prefix. I also had an spreadsheet containing a long list of those prefixes, along with additional columns of information for that prefix, including feature class name and shape type.

I wanted to create the feature classes for dozens of these prefixes, based on the values in my converted feature class, and a template feature class for the field structure. The Select geoprocessing tool could have easily split out all the different features per prefix for me, but that would have kept the CAD feature class structure, and not the structure that I wanted.

I figured this would be a good time to get into pandas (and eventually geopandas, maybe).

# @date 24/06/2015
# @author Cindy Williams
# Creates feature classes by looking up the
# name in a pandas data frame
# For use as a standalone script
import arcpy
import pandas as pd
# Set workspace
arcpy.env.workspace = r"C:\Some\Arb\Folder\work.gdb"
# Template feature class
fc_template = "ftr_template"
# Spreadsheet containing the values
xl_workbook = r"C:\Some\Arb\Folder\assets.xlsx"
lyr_source ="ftr_source")
field_category = "Category"
# Get projection from template feature class
sr = arcpy.Describe(fc_template).spatialReference
# Create data frame and parse values
df = pd.read_excel(xl_workbook, 0, parse_cols[0,6], index_col="Prefix")
# Get the list of categories
categories = list(set(row[0] for row in arcpy.da.SearchCursor(lyr_source, field_category)))
for cat in categories:
print("Processing " + cat)
qry = """ "{0}" = '{1}' """.format(field_category, cat)
# Look up the category in the data frame and return the matching feature class name
fc_name = df.loc[cat, "Feature Class Name"]
print("Feature class created: " + fc_name)
lyr_cat =,
where_clause=qry), fc_name, "NO_TEST")
except Exception as e:
print("Finished " + cat)
print("Script complete.")

In Line 28, I load the first 7 columns on the first sheet in the workbook into a pandas data frame. I set the index column to the column called “Prefix”, so those values will be used for the lookup instead of the default int index pandas assigns.

In Line 37, the prefix value from the feature class is used to look up the corresponding feature class name in the pandas data frame. Once the feature class has been successfully created, a selection layer of the matching features is appended into the new feature class. I could use a SearchCursor and store the matching features in a python list to be copied into the new feature class, but that’s something I will test at another time.

2 thoughts on “Create feature classes from a pandas data frame

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