I'm currently trying to update the fields of a shapefile, with a list I've compiled outside of the arcpy environment. Trying both UpdateCursor which I can't seem to get to work, and FieldCalculator. FieldCalculator just updates it with "P[2]"

photoname = []

for p in shp_list:
    name = p[2]

    # arcpy.CalculateField_management(out_shapefile,"PhotoName","'p[2]'","PYTHON_9.3")

I've also tried:

updt_cursor = arcpy.da.UpdateCursor(out_shapefile, fields)
for row in updt_cursor:
    val = str(row[0])
    for p in shp_list:
        if val in p:
            row[2] = p_name

And UpdateCursor is blank.

I know I could create a .txt from the list, then update the fields with the line in the .txt file with InsertCursor, but I feel like there should be a more efficient way to do this. For context, I'm creating point shapefiles of the X/Y from the exif data, and want to fill in the corresponding image name.

  • 1
    Make sure to close the update cursor. You can do so with del updt_cusor at the end, but the better practice is to use a with block so it gets done automatically. See the examples: pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/arcpy/data-access/…
    – mikewatt
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:58
  • @mikewatt Updated to be consistent with the documentation still no change. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 20:07
  • 2
    Then you're left with logical errors. The if val in p: condition is never met-- if it was, you would get an exception because you never defined p_name. Do some standard debugging here: print out shp_list to make sure it contains what you expect, print val from within the main loop, print p from within the inner loop, etc.
    – mikewatt
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 21:43
  • 1
    Agreed with @mikewatt in that you need to check your iterables. Can you show us what shp_list and some of the corresponding val values?
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


To fix your field calculator statement change it to:

arcpy.CalculateField_management(out_shapefile,"PhotoName","'" + p[2] + "'","PYTHON_9.3")
  • This works, kind of. now it's just an iteration fix. They're all photo 22. I can figure it out from here. I can't believe I missed something so simple. Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 12:06

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