I have a database of orders, with geo data attached.

I want the subset of features related to a specific order to be highlighted on screen (for starters in ArcMap, but later in Flex)

in a python geoprocessing script I use SelectLayerByAttribute, and this seems to work. (I printed the GetCount and got 11 reported).

However, I do not see the selection being hilighted in the map. (since I have to search multiple layers later, a script seems unavoidable)

should a selection made in this way be automatically visible in arcMap (and selected in table view) ? If not, how do I achieve this effect, i.e. that a selection made in the geoprocessing script is visible by the user firing off the script ?

code :

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
# Import arcpy module
import arcpy

#input parameters
Order_To_Find   = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(0)

    mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument(r"E:\GIS\GIS_projecten\034_Werkorders\04_Map\orders.mxd")
    whereclause = " \"ORDERNUMMER\" LIKE \'%CEM MIGRATIE_ 17%\' "
    for lyr in arcpy.mapping.ListLayers(mxd):
        print lyr.name
        if lyr.name == "MUT_E_ASSET_GEO_ACT_P":
    print arcpy.GetMessages()
  • It doesn't work for me either. I tried .RefreshActiveView() and still no highlights
    – Paul Kranz
    Jul 31, 2017 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


I think you need to set the mxd object to the current open mxd like this:

mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument('current')

Otherwise, it is opening a second map behind the scenes when you have a path hard coded in like you do in your script. By using the current mxd, you should see any selections that occur on the layers in the TOC.

  • Many thanks for your suggestion. I did get this working, but unfortunately I cannot use this in a flex viewer, because "CURRENT" only works in ArcMAP. We are back to creating result sets in a database, then publishing this data(set) in a separate layer. any smarter approaches than that are much appreciated.
    – GeoNoob
    Nov 11, 2014 at 14:57

You already have your where clause, so if you make a copy of your layer in your MXD (either using ArcMap or programmatically), and style it differently, then you can apply that same where clause as a Definition Query to the copy of the layer.

That way only the "selected" features will be displayed in the copy of the layer.

  • thanks for your suggestion. I will try this. you propose to have the python code to modify just the definition query in the second layer, I understand.
    – GeoNoob
    Nov 14, 2014 at 13:49

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