I am pretty new to ArcPy so bear with me. I am having a hard time understanding how to feed a list of FCs from a "GetParameterAsText" into something like the merge tool. I have my GetParamterAsText window set to Feature Class and multivalue so I can drag a group of layers into it in the tool dialogue.

inputLayer = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)

When I run the merge command, it looks like it is messing up the expected syntax by putting ";" as a separator instead of ",".

Doing this:

arcpy.Merge_management(inputLayer, outputName, "")

Throws me this error:

"C:\Development\Merge_Dissolve\GA0combined.shp;C:\Development\Merge_Dissolve\GA25combined.shp" does not exist

I have tried to create a function to replace ";" with ",", but it doesn't seem to work on my inputLayer variable, but I'm guessing there's a more standardized way to working with a list of FCs with tools that accept multiple inputs such as Merge.

  • please try to form one question. Make it have a question mark at the end. A clear question will likely get an answer quicker than asking for guidance.
    – Brad Nesom
    May 27, 2015 at 18:50
  • Take a look at this: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/35553/…
    – KHibma
    May 27, 2015 at 20:20

5 Answers 5



parameter = arcpy.GetParameter(1)
inputLayers = parameter.values()

This should give you the different layers as a list Afterwards you can access the individual layers by index or in a loop

layer = inputLayers[0]


for layer in inputLayers:
   (do something with your layer)
  • This was very helpful. Thanks! I figured out something that is working...now to just fully understand WHY. =)
    – GYS
    May 27, 2015 at 20:45
  • @GYS can you elaborate for future reference?
    – DWynne
    May 27, 2015 at 23:32
  • @GYS don't forget to choose an answer when you get a chance.
    – ianbroad
    May 28, 2015 at 0:42

Use split to convert parameter to list expected by Merge.

inputLayer = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)

  • Could you please elaborate on how you would use split?
    – Aaron
    May 27, 2015 at 19:52

There are several ways of successfully formatting values for a tool that accepts multivalues in Python.

  1. A semi-colon delimited string of data is a valid input for any geoprocessing parameter that accepts multiple inputs. This is valid, and is what you will be getting from GetParameterAsText on a multivalue parameter.
  2. A list of strings of the feature classes (or layers, or table views, or whatever the tool parameter accepts).
  3. A list of arcpy.Value objects. If you use GetParameter this is what you should be getting.
  4. Create and populate an arcpy.ValueTable object. I don't recommend this per se as it's more effort than it's worth, but it will work.

If you've done #1, and it's not working, I would question whether the data does exist.


So the answer was that I needed to create a list and then feed that into the merge command. I'm not sure why #1 didn't work from @DWynne as that has worked for me in the past (and how I approached this at first) on another tool that takes multiple inputs.

This was my basic flow:

inputLayer = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)
layerList = inputLayer.split(";")
arcpy.Merge_management(layerList, tempmergeName, "")

This is what I needed to do in order to use a list of feature classes listed in a text file. A little off topic since the OP is specifically asking about GetParameterAsText() and I'm side-stepping the function. It is however directed at the same end goal: feeding Merge_managment a long list of inputs.

import arcpy

#inputLayer = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)
#outputFC = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(2)

inputLayer = r"X:\source\all-footprint-featureclasses.txt"
outputFC = r"X:\work\default.gdb\all_sat_footprints"

ff = open(inputLayer)

# Open text file and put each line into a list element
#   --> ["path1","path2", ...]
layerList = ff.read().split()

arcpy.Merge_management(";".join(layerList), outputFC, "")
  # ";".join() turns ["path1","path2"] into --> "path1;path2"

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