I have been trying to buffer 15 polygons (-15m) in ArcMap. I did a batch buffer and 13 polygons worked fine, the other 2 have not buffered, an error occurs: WARNING 000117: Warning empty output generated. Executed (Buffer) successfully. End Time: Fri Jul 06 18:58:32 2012 (Elapsed Time: 1.00 seconds)

All the input polygons are similar with full attribute tables so the output should not be empty for these 2!

2 Answers 2


If the negative buffer distance is large enough to collapse the polygon to nothing, a null geometry will be generated. A warning message will be given, and any null geometry features will not be written to the output feature class. (ESRI)

Any chance that some of your polygons when buffered by a negative value would result in a null geometry?

You can control and flag this programatically with ArcObjects (not sure about python) by trapping the error and skipping (not creating a feature for) the "culprit" polygons.


Just a wild guess, related to bugs like Polygons converted from lines have a negative area where ArcGIS confuses the "outside" and "inside" of the polygon border.

  • Export your data to a new shapefile.
  • Run the Repair Geometry tool on this new shapefile.
  • Buffer this new shapefile.

Does that fix things?

  • Is the polygon more than 15m wide? If not it will collapse on itself and result in empty geometry.
    – dklassen
    Jul 6, 2012 at 18:33
  • Out of curiosity: Why? I was under the impression that a 15m buffer could be applied to an arbitrarily small line, point, or polygon without becoming invalid. Jul 6, 2012 at 18:40
  • I see, I missed the "(-15)" = "negative 15m" Jul 6, 2012 at 23:50

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