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I would like to split the large polygons in the picture below into smaller polygons using the border. I have about 4000 lots that I would like to divide and find the area of each of the smaller sections of the polygons but every process I have used so far will not allow me to work on more then one polygon at a time.

enter image description here

I am a student that does not have much experience with Python but can try it out.

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  • More details may help us to better answer your question. Are the polygons and border both shapefiles? What version of ArcGIS are you running? Once you have the polygons chopped up, do you want to calculate area using regular units (i.e., acres, square meters, etc.)? Etc.
    – Baltok
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 19:21
  • They are both shapefiles, one is a line and the other is a polygon. I am running ArcGIS 10.0. The ultimate goal is to calculate the area of the "chopped" up polygons in square meters. Thanks, Adam
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 19:43
  • Additionally Split does not seem to work for some reason it does not recognize the line shapefile as the feature to "split" the polygon shapefile
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 19:51

4 Answers 4

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Think you probably need Split (in the Analysis Toolbox).

You shouldn't need Python - this is a fairly standard GIS task.

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  • 1
    Note: Split is only available to people with ArcInfo level licensing Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 11:33
  • Did not work for me. Asks for a text field. I do not understand why.
    – Mox
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 22:24
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Based on your description, you might look into the Split Polygons tool on the Topology toolbar. This allows you to use a line/polygon shapefile to chop up a polygon shapefile. You will need an ArcInfo license to run it. Also, be forewarned that if you are attempting to chop up lots of polygons with many vertices, it could take awhile to process or could hang/crash depending on your computer's hardware.

An alternative would be to use Feature to Polygon to convert the border/lines shapefile to polygons, and then Intersect with the other polygons layer to chop it up. Feature to Polygon does require an ArcInfo license. An alternative to Feature to Polygon is to install the ET GeoWizards Toolbar which has a Polylines to Polygons tool which does the same thing and is free and doesn't require an ArcInfo license.

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  • I do have ArcInfo but I must not have the full license because I do have the split polygons tool.
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 21:21
  • I have tried to use the second method you described but Intersect does not work - I keep getting an error 999999 - invalid topology and it fails to execute. Thanks so much for all your help by the way.
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 21:22
  • Split Polygons is not a tool you can search for in ArcToolbox; it is only a button found on the Topology toolbar. If you turn on the Topology toolbar, it should be the sixth button from the right. Regarding Intersect not working, the most likely culprit is that when you converted your lines to polygons with Feature to Polygon, it introduced topology errors. You might look through your converted polygon shapefile to see if there are some obvious errors. The Topology toolbar has some other tools to help check your layer for topology errors. It might be worth reading through ESRI's help.
    – Baltok
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 22:10
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You can make a polygon feature class with the border polylines using FeatureToPolygon, and then get the intersection of the two polygon layers with Intersect. The intersection class must contain the splited polygons.

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  • I have tried intersect as well but the system keep giving me error 999999 - invalid topology. Any further advice? Thanks.
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 21:25
  • Check this thread: <forums.esri.com/Thread.asp?c=93&f=983&t=222076>. Maybe changin the enviroment settings disabling the M values (or/and Z values) is the solution. Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 4:48
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you can do this using qgis. install the plugin LayerByField. After installing the plugin you can simply complete your task by following the following steps

  1. select "Split Layers By Field" under "Vector".
  2. Select your input shapefile and the attribute that should be used to split.

After it complete running, you have your various individual shapefiles with the attribute intact

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