I am trying to convert polygons to polylines in ArcGIS Pro using ArcPy. I do not have the license so I cannot use the tools that do the job. Due to the way things are set-up for now I cannot use QGIS or GRASS GIS modules. I am basically restricted to ArcPy and would prefer not to use other modules that have to be installed / imported to ensure functionality across different working stations.

The manual workflow as provided by Esri: https://support.esri.com/en/technical-article/000018461

I cannot find a way to populate my newly created Polyline feature with the data from the Polygons.

My function so far (I work with shapefiles):

def PolygonToLine(inFC, outPath, outFC_Name):

# Set local variables
   geometry_type = "POLYLINE"
   template = inFC
   has_m = "DISABLED"
   has_z = "DISABLED"
# Use Describe to get a SpatialReference object of input
   spatial_reference = arcpy.Describe(inFC).spatialReference

#Execute CreateFeatureclass
   arcpy.CreateFeatureclass_management(outPath, outFC_Name, geometry_type, template, has_m, has_z, spatial_reference)

#initiate output (note; shapefile)
   outFC = outPath+"/"+outFC_Name

#populate Polyline feature class
   arcpy.Copy_management(inFC, outFC)

The result of this is just a copy of my polygon features and an empty Polyline feature dataset. Any ideas?

  • 2
    Your Python indent scheme is invalid. I'd use a nested pair of DA cursors, converting the polygon into polyline via the Polygon.boundary() request.
    – Vince
    Aug 11, 2020 at 15:13
  • 1
    I'd try something similar to what @Vince suggested but I'd first use arcpy.da.SearchCursor() and list comprehension to create a list of your polygon geometries, and then use arcpy.da.InsertCursor() to read that list and Polygon.boundary() to write the polygon boundaries as polylines.
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 12, 2020 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


As suggested in the comments, try using cursors and the boundary method to extract polygon outlines as polylines:

arcpy.env.workspace = r'C:\GIS\data\testdata' #I have my polygon shapefile in this folder

polygon_fc = "ak_riks"
polygon_fields = [f for f in arcpy.ListFields(polygon_fc) if f.type not in ['Geometry','OID']]

#Create a polyline feature class and add all fields from polygon fc
polyline_fc = "ak_riks_lines"
arcpy.CreateFeatureclass_management(out_path=arcpy.env.workspace, out_name=polyline_fc, geometry_type='POLYLINE', 
for f in polygon_fields:
    arcpy.AddField_management(in_table=polyline_fc, field_name=f.name, field_type=f.type, 
                   field_precision=f.precision, field_scale=f.scale, field_length=f.length)

fieldlist = [f.name for f in polygon_fields]+['SHAPE@']
icur = arcpy.da.InsertCursor(polyline_fc, fieldlist) #To insert attributes and geometries

with arcpy.da.SearchCursor(polygon_fc, fieldlist) as cursor:
    for row in cursor:
        geom = row[-1].boundary()
        newrow = list(row[:-1])+[geom]

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