I develop a python script tool to adapt the symbology of a set of shapefiles based on a given symbology template (layer file).

These are the properties that should be changed:

Number of classes and colors: using the ApplySymbologyFromLayer() function. The symbology template has 4 classes set to natural breaks and the colors are set manually to specific RGB values (green, brown, red, blue), there is no color scheme used.

Class break values and labels: calculated based on statistical values of each shapefile (in the code below entered arbitrary values)

After using the ApplySymbologyFromLayer(), the shapefile is set to 4 classes, natural breaks, and the specified colors. But when I then set the class break values and labels, the colors are reset to the default color scheme. I cannot use the ApplySymbologyFromLayer() afterwards, as then the classification scheme is reset.

EDIT: Obviously the problem are the manually set colors, as the colors remain consistent when a color scheme is used. But I need to apply the specific color values.

Why are the manually applied colors reset and is there a Workaround for this?

Here is my code:

import arcpy
inptShapefiles = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(0)
symbologyTemplate = arcpy.GetParameterAsText(1)

shapefiles = inptShapefiles.split(';') 
for shp in shapefiles:
    name = os.path.splitext(os.path.basename(shp))[0]
    lyr = arcpy.MakeFeatureLayer_management(shp, name)
    arcpy.ApplySymbologyFromLayer_management(lyr, symbologyTemplate)
    lyr.getOutput(0).symbology.classBreakValues = [1, 100, 200, 300, 400]
    lyr.getOutput(0).symbology.classBreakLabels = ["Class A", "Class B", "Class C", "Class D"]
    arcpy.SaveToLayerFile_management(lyr, "E:/temp/" + lyr.getOutput(0).name, "RELATIVE")
  • Create a new 4-colour scheme and use that in your template layer. The new layer should reference that new scheme so the colours shouldn't change after being classified
    – Midavalo
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 17:08
  • Many thanks, that worked! You could post it as answer, then I can mark the question as solved.
    – the_chimp
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


Create a new 4-colour scheme and use that in your template layer.

Set the new layer to reference that 4-colour scheme and the colours shouldn't change after being classified.

enter image description here

  • As my feature layer represents polylines, I am wondering if there is a possibility that the strength of the line (e.g. 2) can be applied too. I already tried within the symbology tab to select all classes - right click - properties for all elements, and setting the strength of the line. But the resulting polyline layer has always a strength of 1.
    – the_chimp
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 9:21
  • Change them one at a time to 2, and save in your layer file. These should load via your script as lineweight 2 when you apply from layer file. I'm unsure why you can't use Properties for All Symbols here. I can only set properties individually. I have found that if I have too many to modify I can just set to 1 class break, set my symbol size and OK, then reopen layer properties and split into the required number of class breaks. This will keep the symbol size (line weight).
    – Midavalo
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 9:48
  • Thank you, I tried it, but unfortunately it did not work out. When I load my symbology template layer, the lines have a strenth of 2, but when applying this symbology to my Input, the lineweight set to 1 again. Any other idea?
    – the_chimp
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 10:39
  • When I run the ApplySymbologyFromLayer tool manually in ArcGIS, the lineweight is also applied. Maybe the Problem is that I use it in the python script, where I, after the ApplySymbologyFromLayer function I modify the class break values (as in my first post, this first changed also the colors, maybe now it is still changing lineweight).
    – the_chimp
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 10:42

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