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I am kinda new to Python, please excuse for such a trivial questions. There is a shapefile (let's call it Materials.shp). I have an attribute table with different fields (for example, windows, doors, etc..). The script I am trying to write needs to update the values for those fields. The new values for those fields I get are from an Excel file. Is it possible to do that? What is the easiest way for the script to update the values of these cells? I am using ArcGIS for Desktop.

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There are several ways to read the Excel file with Python. It depends on the version of the excel file. I used xlrd in the past and it was really simple.

In this page: http://www.python-excel.org/ There's a list of modules that you can try to read the data in the spreadsheet. Documentation for each one is included there. You might find this useful at least for that part of your task.

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