I have got two shapefiles. One of them is a point shapefile and the second one is a polygon shapefile. I need to find out which of them has a larger extent and then set the environment extent to include both shapefiles.

  • 1
    What software ?
    – warrieka
    Sep 30, 2013 at 14:09
  • It is in ArcGIS.
    – user21816
    Sep 30, 2013 at 14:10
  • 4
    this could get you started: resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//…
    – Craig
    Sep 30, 2013 at 14:21
  • What ArcGIS for Desktop version are you using? Can you post your code so far, please? The edit button should be used to do this rather than as more comments.
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 30, 2013 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


I use a code similar to this. Try using the following code (its modified from what I use and this is untested).

# Import arcpy modules
import arcpy
from arcpy import env

def extents(fc):
    extent = arcpy.Describe(fc).extent
    west = extent.XMin
    south = extent.YMin
    east = extent.XMax
    north = extent.YMax
    width = extent.width
    height = extent.height
    return west, south, east, north, width, height

# Script arguments
shape1 = "path to shape 1"
shape2 = "path to shape 2"

# Obtain extents of two shapes
w1, s1, e1, n1, wid1, hgt1 = extents(shape1)
w2, s2, e2, n2, wid2, hgt2 = extents(shape2)

# Determine which extent is larger (I assumed in area)
area1 = wid1 * hgt1
area2 = wid2 * hgt2

larger = max(area1, area2)
print("%s is the larger shape" % larger)

XMin = min(w1, w2)
YMin = min(s1, s2)
XMax = max(e1, e2)
YMax = max(n1, n2)

# Set the extent environment
arcpy.env.extent = "%s %s %s %s" % (XMin, YMin, XMax, YMax)
print("Extent set to %s %s %s %s" % (XMin, YMin, XMax, YMax))
  • Shouldn't you use more than simply width and height to determine shape area? Or maybe just change the comment to: # Determine which extent is larger (I assumed in area)
    – bcollins
    Sep 30, 2013 at 21:19

In ArcCatalog, you can right click the shapefile > Feature extent This will give you the extent coordinates.

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