My level is very basic in Python.

This is the python codeblock I have in ArcGIS Field Calculator:

def Reclass(THLB):
  if THLB == 0:
    return 0
  elif THLB == 1:
    return !Shape_Area!

This works fine if I have another value for elif..say 1. The field populates great. But I can't get the elif to return another field (area in this case).

What am I overlooking?

Both the shape area and field I'm populating are floats.

  • Note that the !name! syntax is not standard Python. It's some whacko ESRI customization, so don't be surprised if it behaves in remarkably strange ways.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 10:06
  • 1
    @jpmc26 the exclamation marks around a field name is definitely not standard python, its a marker used by Esri field calculator to substitute the value of the field for each feature and not a string or variable. The confusion arises when one reads about the field calculator syntax and (in my view) the exclamation bounding is not adequately explained; the scope of the variable token !field! is only on one line, the calculation line, and is out of scope anywhere else. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:59
  • @MichaelStimson Yes, I'm aware. Also, ESRI not explaining something adequately and not making it intuitive enough to figure out on your own? Tell me something new. ;) ESRI must be preparsing the code snippet and replacing it with some actual Python before evaluating it, and whatever they did doesn't work right except in a very limit scope. How or why they would even do that is beyond me; I should think they would have had to do extra work to limit its scope.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


!Shape_Area! is out of scope for this calculation, if you want to calculate the values of shape_area you need to specify like this:

def Reclass(THLB,Area):
  if THLB == 0:
    return 0
  elif THLB == 1:
    return Area

Then call like:


That is of course provided your data type has a shape_area field. If your data is a shapefile or other data source that doesn't have a shape area field you need to calculate your area first.

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