Can you put ArcGIS geoprocessing tools such as arcpy.SelectLayerByLocation_management() or arcpy.MakeFeatureLayer_management() into the code block of the ArcGIS Field-calculator (ArcGIS Desktop 10.4)?

  • Welcome to GIS SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format. What happened when you tried to do this?
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 10, 2017 at 22:57
  • 2
    99% possible, similar to gis.stackexchange.com/questions/193681/…
    – FelixIP
    Nov 10, 2017 at 22:57
  • 1
    @FelixIP do you think it is a duplicate or mind answering this?
    – fatih_dur
    Nov 11, 2017 at 1:56
  • @fatih_dur I'll give it go, because it is not exactly duplicate.
    – FelixIP
    Nov 11, 2017 at 4:00

2 Answers 2


Yes, this can be done with some of the geoprocessing tools.

Proof of concept - use arcpy.GetCount_management() to count the selected features and write that value to those selected features:

def myTest():
    count = int(arcpy.GetCount_management('testPoint').getOutput(0))
    return count

enter image description here

Another, use arcpy.SelectLayerByAttribute_management() to select every ObjectID divisible by 4 and write a value to those newly selected features:

def myTest():
    return 123

enter image description here

Of course you can make these more complex if you require, however I would recommend using arcpy script tools and update cursors if you're getting too clever, rather than Field Calculator.


I generated random points inside 4 polygons shapefile, using field "Points_Cnt". The source of polygons is "C:\FELIX_DATA\SCRARCH\fish_net.shp":

enter image description here

The result of this field caluclator expression on a new field "RESULT":

mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument("CURRENT")
def getPoints(fid):
 arcpy.MakeFeatureLayer_management ("C:/FELIX_DATA/SCRARCH/fish_net.shp","A",'"FID" ='+str(fid))
 return nSel


getPoints( !FID!)

enter image description here

Confirms that it is possible to use tools in field calculator.

  • After posting solution I realized, that OP is not so weird. It is a very cool way to count points in polygons without need of spatial join, summary statistics and attribute join ! No need to clean intermediate Results.
    – FelixIP
    Nov 11, 2017 at 19:13
  • Ah, I just realized how you used the fid in a where_clause to select a single object for the feature class. That is useful. As per you hint in: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/261584/…). Nov 13, 2017 at 21:35

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