I am looking to do a simple append using Pyshp and keep running into walls. The editor object could not read the dbf header for the input shapefile so I tried using reader and writer as suggested but have run into some problems with writer.

Initially I wanted to copy entire ShapeRecord objects but did not see a way to use writer to write them, so I tried a more granular approach like iterating and copying shape and record attributes which failed as well:

reader = shapefile.Reader('c:/temp/input.shp') #Open input file
w = shapefile.Writer(shapefile.POLYGON)        #Create writer
w.field('FLD1','C','20')                       #Create fields
for sr in reader.shapeRecords():         #iterate through shapeRecords in the input
    w.poly(sr.shape)                     #write shape to writer
    w.record(sr.record)                  #write record to writer
w.save('c:/temp/appendoutput.shp')       #save writer to file

I end up with two errors:

  1. IndexError: tuple index out of range for w.record(sr.record) File "C:\Python26\ArcGIS10.0\lib\shapefile.py", line 959, in record [record.append(recordList[i]) for i in range(fieldCount)]
    This perplexes me since print sr.record shows me that there are seven items in the record list that was read in by the reader and I have seven fields.

  2. TypeError: iteration over non-sequence for the w.poly(sr.shape)

  • I don't see any way to PM on this forum or an email link. I am currently working with NHC data here: nhc.noaa.gov/gis/forecast/archive. If you download one of the <storm designation>_5day_*.zip files it will have a point, line, and polygon layer in it. I am working on the polygon one at present. Thanks!!!! Sep 26, 2013 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


Make sure you are using the latest pyshp (version 1.2). I used the following noaa nhc shapefile in the example: "ep202009.026_5day_pgn"

I was able to add another polygon. In this image the original is the circle and mine is the square:

shapefile example

Here is the code with lots of comments:

import shapefile
# Polygon shapefile we are updating.
# We must include a file extension in
# this case because the file name
# has multiple dots and pyshp would get
# confused otherwise.
file_name = "ep202009.026_5day_pgn.shp"
# Create a shapefile reader
r = shapefile.Reader(file_name)
# Create a shapefile writer
# using the same shape type
# as our reader
w = shapefile.Writer(r.shapeType)
# Copy over the existing dbf fields
w.fields = list(r.fields)
# Copy over the existing dbf records
# Copy over the existing polygons
# Add a new polygon
# Add a new dbf record for our polygon making sure we include
# all of the fields in the original file (r.fields)
# Overwrite the old shapefile or change the name and make a copy 

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