I am having difficulty getting to grips with arcpy and cursors. What i aim to do is the following: Depending on the direction specified in Test I wish to update the Target field. If it is forward, the Target should receive the Value of AP from the next row/feature. In this example for the first feature, the Target would be 2. Aditionally, if the direction specified is backward the Target field should receive the value from the previous row. To make matters worse, the AP and Target fields are strings (and converting them is not an option as the data provided in ususally alphanumeric), so simply adding and subtracting 1 is not possible.

enter image description here

what i have so far:

i = 0  
lastvalue = []  
with arcpy.da.SearchCursor(InFC, [Direction, AP]) as cursor:  
    for row in cursor:
        if Direction == "forward":
            newField = AP[row+1] ## here id like to reference the next value somehow
            newField = AP[row-1] ## here id like to reference the previous value
  • Welcome to GIS SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour. For questions that involve code we ask that you show us where you are stuck with your own code by including a code snippet in your question. There is an edit button beneath your question which will enable you to do that and a {} button that enables you to format any highlighted code nicely.
    – PolyGeo
    May 18, 2018 at 8:19
  • I would add code if i had any to begin with. It is mostly failed attempts that i have promptly deleted. May 18, 2018 at 8:32
  • @BERA's right - all that we try to avoid is becoming a "code writing service": gis.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3353/115
    – PolyGeo
    May 18, 2018 at 8:39
  • fair enough, I am new to python. coming from R where indexing is a breeze i find this pretty challenging May 18, 2018 at 8:52
  • What happens when you run the exact code snippet that have presented? If it gives an error then telling us the exact error message including line number is what we are after.
    – PolyGeo
    May 18, 2018 at 9:06

1 Answer 1


A cursor can only look at one row at a time but you can use two: Store all AP values in a list using a SearchCursor. Then use indexes to fetch values from the list and update using UpdateCursor. counter is keeping track of current row and used as index to fetch values from AP list. I dont know what you want to do at first/last row when you cant go backwards/forwards, im using current row value:

fc = 'contour'
fields = ['AP','Test','Target']

AP_list = [i[0] for i in arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, fields[0])]
listlength = len(AP_list)

counter = 0
with arcpy.da.UpdateCursor(fc, fields) as cursor:
    for row in cursor:
        if row[1] == 'forward':
            if counter == listlength-1:
                print 'Last row, cant go forward! Using current row value'
                value = 0                
                value = 1
            if counter == 0:
                print 'First row, cant go back! Using current row value'
                value = 0
                value = -1
        row[2] = AP_list[counter+value]

enter image description here


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