I have a polygon feature class in a file geodatabase that I'm attempting to Split into smaller polygons. I had no problems with the first 5 polyygons but the next ones just won't split. I've tried in closing and restarting the map session, starting a new session with no other data loaded, and compacting the file-gdb, in both ArcGIS Pro 2.6 and ArcMap 10.8.

In Pro the error is

Split failed. New geometry must intersect polylines and intersect polygons in two or more places.


Try running the Repair Geometry geoprocessing tool before Splitting or any other edit tool that is behaving strangely. Likely the geometry has one or more self intersecting boundary lines and the polygon topology is broken.

In this case 12 self interesecting lines were found and repaired. After that editing behaved as expected.

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    NB: in the old days ArcInfo verified and fixed or flagged these kinds of topology problems automatically. Go progress! ;-) Dec 15 '20 at 18:12
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    It wasn't automatic. You needed to run Build or Clean first.
    – Vince
    Aug 22 '21 at 16:19
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    @Vince thanks for that clarification. Clean and Build were so integral to our workflow that we used it reflexively, like Ctrl-S for save, so it felt automatic. ;-) Aug 23 '21 at 15:36

Another time this error comes up is when you are not really splitting into 2 or more features. For example, if splitting from a hole in a polygon to the exterior it does not really consider this a split.

  • This shouldn't have been downvoted. The scenario @Chris provides is real example of where this operation can fail and is on topic. It just happens to not be the particular failure mode I was having when creating this question. I have a hard time thinking of how the answer could be more complete. A screenshot would be helpful, but is not essential. Aug 17 '21 at 19:50

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