In ArcGIS 10.3 I'm able to create a polygon grid with "grid index feature" but the problem is that I would like create a very big polygon grid (the size like an entire continent) and with the cell size equal to a square with the side of about 250 metres. It's obvious that a normal computer is unable to manage this layer due to the big cell amount, we talk about billion cells!

My idea is to create "N" small polygon grid (always with a cell size about 250 metres) to cover my area and I don't want join attribute or other kind of operation. The problem is that when I create the first polygon grid, the second one needs to start (or to end) by overlap the last cell-line or cell-row of the precede polygon grid and so on.

I don't want an automatic process, I can manually create each polygon grid in ArcGIS but which are the steps to create this N polygon grid with this "special case"?

An image explain what I want, in this image there is only the North overlap but I need to consider also the case when the overlap in South or East or West):

enter image description here

  • 1
    Doing this should be quite easy, though time consuming, using Create Fishnet in an ArcPy/Python script with couple of for loops, but what is the use case?
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:56
  • I can spend my "human" time to make the N polygon grid. Can you explain me the steps? I don't understand how use Fishnet...
    – lausent
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:07
  • I think you should try it. It is very similar to Grid Index Features.
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:08
  • 1
    I question the benefit of creating billions of polygons, whether they be in one table or many. I'd expect raster modeling would be a more efficient (and more useful) way to manage this information flow. In the meantime, try your analysis at 16km/32km/64km just so you have a better understanding of your intended process.
    – Vince
    Sep 17, 2016 at 13:28
  • 1) I need to count points in each cell 2) I color each cell and the color is based in how many point there are in a cell. 3) Convert each polygon grid in a raster to have a better color effect
    – lausent
    Sep 19, 2016 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


Have a look at the Point to Raster tool. With this you can convert for example a point feature class to a Raster directly, and by specifying "COUNT" as Assignment Type, it will count the number of points that occur in each cell and store it as the cell value. So if your desired final output is a raster, this could probably be much faster than creating polygons.

You could test it with a larger cell size first to see if this suits your needs. If you have a lot of NoData values in the Raster, you can deal with it using tools like Raster Calculator, or Con.

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