I have 2 huge files of points (hundreds of thousands of points). I need to determine a way to loop through all the points in one file and find all the points in the second file that are only a certain distance away. So like within a distance outside the buffer. Or on the outer edge of the buffer.

I am thinking of 2 buffers, one larger buffer and then one smaller buffer and then somehow subtracting the values. No idea how this could be accomplished though.

The files are huge so I am also concerned in doing this the quickest way possible.

Any ideas?

  • 1
    And the software that you have access to would be....????
    – user681
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:30
  • arcinfo, sorry forgot to mention
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:59
  • Is a programming solution acceptable? Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 19:07
  • 1
    buffering is slow... trying using 'Near'
    – Mapperz
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 19:13
  • I think the question could be changed to something like "How can I spatially join two large datasets". In the details describe the join logic (more than a min distance but less than a max distance). Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Generate Near Table (Analysis) [ArcInfo only]

enter image description here

This tool behaves the same as the Near tool. However, instead of updating the input features, it creates a new output table. Moreover, it can find as many near features as specified by the Maximum number of closest matches parameter.


  • a programming solution would be great as well
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 19:32
  • the Desktop Help link above has code samples
    – Mike T
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:00
  • programming solution is at the bottom of the link for Python as Mike Toews mentions
    – Mapperz
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:38
  • Awesome, thanks everyone. I had not ever used this function.
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:39
  • Ok, I have tried this solution and realize that it is not helping and I probably did not explain myself.
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 18:57

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