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I have about 20 shapefiles that contain contours lines, and I'm trying to convert them to one TIN using Spatial Analyst in ArcGIS 9.3. I included all of the SHP's as input to generate a TIN, but it didn't work. I have tried with hard line, soft line, and mass points options, but nothing is working.

I think if I first created a single contour shapefile from the 20 then I would be able to generate a TIN. My question is: how can I create 1 contour layer from the original 20, or how can I create one TIN from multiple shapefiles?

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Can you provide more details of what happened when you tried to create the TIN in Spatial Analyst? For example, was there an error message? If so, please edit your question to include the message. – user3461 Mar 6 '13 at 14:54

So, if you have each contour line saved as a separate shapfile, the simplest way to combine them into one shapefile is the Merge tool. Whether this will work properly depends on how your individual contours are created (See GeoKevin's comment below), but it's an easy place to start.

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Merge may not work well on contours, depending on how the original shapefiles were created. If the contours were created from a single surface then clipped into 20 shapefiles, then the merged contours should work as input to the TIN. However, if the 20 files were created independently, then the contours most likely won't edge-match correctly and the merge will leave broken contours. The breaks would cause strange artifacts in the resultant TIN. – user3461 Mar 6 '13 at 15:05
Good point. Stream889 should be aware of that danger going into it, but I still think Merge is a good place to start given its simplicity. – Jay Guarneri Mar 6 '13 at 15:12
thanks Jay i tried Merge on 2 contours and it worked, TIN was generated as well. i didnt wanna try 20 because it takes to long and i wanted to thank you guys for your answers. BTW : I felt stupid because i never used merge tool it didnt came out when i was looking for a clue on google(didnt use appropriat keywords). – stream889 Mar 6 '13 at 15:22
@stream889: Don't feel stupid. The hardest part about GIS isn't learning how to do things but what you can do. – Jay Guarneri Mar 6 '13 at 15:52
@stream889, since this worked, will you please accept it as the correct answer? Doing so has several benefits: it lets future readers (who may have the same issue) know what worked, plus it gives additional reputation points to both you and Jay Guarneri. Thanks. – user3461 Mar 6 '13 at 17:09

sorry guys im new to this forum i came as a guest (stream889) now i have my acount and i dont know how to accept Jay's answer as the correct one. and by the way, i tried to merge 20 countours into 1 and it worked but TIN file can't be created (error) so i did the following: I opened the countour's attribute table and add 2 fields X and Y as "double". then write click on X column then "calculate geometry" with the proprety "X coordinate of centroid" and then the same thing with Y . finally i exported the database and importing it " tools > add X Y data" all of this in order to creat TIN from "mass points" and it worked :)

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