In ArcGIS, I want to use a Python script (and a standard ArcGIS script tool UI) to call functionality from FWTools.

How would I make the call to FWTools? I tried using os.system(C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /K "C:\Program Files\FWTools2.4.7\setfw.bat") which is what the windows shortcut calls, but that is not it. It seems I am probably missing something rather simple, but I can't figure out how to make the right call through python to get FWTools & ogr2ogr operating on the string I pass.

My UI looks like this:

enter image description here

and the pseudo-code behind it is something like:

'ogr2ogr -f "' + outformat + '" "' + outfile + '" "' + infile + '" ' + ogrvars
  • 1
    You might consider installing the gdal python module (pypi.python.org/pypi/GDAL/1.7.1), and then calling the ogr library direct from python. It will be a little lower level, but more direct. Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


I did this a while ago, I'm not sure it is the best way to go, but it worked at the time.

g.fwtools = r"D:\FWTools2.2.8"
# name of translate command
g.cmd = os.path.join(g.fwtools, "bin", "gdal_translate.exe")

def setupfwtools(g):
    Sets the environment variables to access the GDAL tools.
    This allows us to run this script without depending on the
    use running the FW Tools seup batch file first.

args = [g.cmd] + [option1 option2]
os.spawnve(os.P_WAIT, args[0], args, os.environ)

It turns out it was just a silly mistake on my part and forgetting that paths in Python need to be either "\" or "/". The code itself was very simple:

'"C:\\WINDOWS\\system32\\cmd.exe /C" "C:\\Program Files\\FWTools2.4.7\\bin\\ogr2ogr.exe" ' + ogrstring

I have posted the toolbox and python code at:


  • It's okay to mark your own answer accepted. I'm glad you figured it out, I have far too many of those "Doh!" over a single misplaced character myself. :) Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 21:40

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