Mexican Spotted Owl, stretching...

Tools for Graphics and Shapes

***   Award Winning Software   ***
 1st Place, Best Desktop Application
2008 ESRI International User Conference, San Diego, CA, USA

Topics:  Sphere, Vincenty, Geodesic, Great Circle, Spherical Triangle, Polygon, Centroid, Center of Mass, Vector, Area, Haversine

Author:  Jeff Jenness

Wildlife Biologist, GIS Analyst

Jenness Enterprises

3020 N. Schevene Blvd.

Flagstaff, AZ, 86004   USA

(928) 607-4638 

Description:  This extension includes a large suite of tools for calculating geometric attributes of vector features and for selecting and naming graphics. All tools are available at the ArcView license level.

Among many other functions, this extension offers tools for calculating the true area and centroid of polygons as they lay on the sphere, thereby avoiding errors caused by projection distortions. This extension also offers tools to calculate true lengths of polylines as they lie on the spheroid, using Vincenty’s equations. This manual thoroughly explains all algorithms used to calculate geometric attributes on the sphere and spheroid.

This extension also includes a tool to create a new shapefile from within ArcMap, either by creating an empty shapefile or by converting graphics.

Output:  Several tools produce point, multipoint, polyline or polygon shapefiles. Some geometry tools produce new shapefiles while others add new fields to attribute tables.

Recommended Citation Format: For those who wish to cite this extension, the author recommends something similar to:

Jenness, J.  2011.  Tools for Graphics and Shapes: Extension for ArcGIS. Jenness Enterprises. Available at:

Current Citation List (from Google Scholar):

bullet Tools for Graphics and Shapes

Requires:  ArcGIS 9.1 or better (at any license level) or ArcGIS 10. The "Build Polygon" function requires ArcView 9.2 or newer.  This extension has not been tested with ArcGIS 9.0, and I am sure it will not work with ArcGIS 8.x.

For detailed instructions on installation and operation, view the on-line PDF version of Tools for Graphics and Shapes Manual         


Partially funded by the US Geological Survey, Astrogeology Team (


Version 1.0

bulletBuild 1.0.291 (January 1, 2008): Initial Release
bulletBuild 1.0.293 (January 2, 2008): Minor aesthetic changes to dialogs; fixed some typos in manual.
bulletJanuary 3, 2008: Corrected typo in manual.

Version 1.1

bulletBuild 1.1.73 (January 9, 2008):
bulletAdded “Build Polygon” function
bulletAdded Polyline Azimuth options to “Calculate Geometry” tool.
bulletAdded code to disable “Build Polygon” tool if user was running a pre-9.2 version of ArcGIS.
bulletAdded code to prevent error messages when some functions were cancelled.
bulletAdded code to force shapefile field names to conform to dBASE restrictions, when field data were copied from non-shapefile sources.
bulletAdded scroll bars to the message section of the “Message Box” dialog.
bulletAdded persistence code so the document would remember the last save folder, and the Progress Dialog parameters, from one session to the next.
bulletFixed the link in the “About” dialog so that it pointed to the correct web page.
bulletBuild 1.1.76 (January 10, 2008) Corrects a bug where the Spheroidal Length was being written to the wrong field.
bulletBuild 1.1.85 (March 28, 2008)
bulletRepaired a bug in the “Calculate Geometry” dialog in which it might crash with the error message “Object variable or With block variable not set”, occuring at line 48 of the form frmGeometry.frm, if no layers are selected in the Map Table of Contents.

Version 2.0

bulletBuild 2.0.57 (February 12, 2009)
bulletModified sphere and spheroid functions to use spheroid from actual data rather than defaulting to WGS 1984.
bulletAdded functions to transform between planetocentric and planetographic coordinate systems.
bulletAdded functions to wrap data to pre-defined longitude ranges.
bulletAdded functions to shift longitude values.
bulletAdded output options to save to personal and file geodatabases as well as shapefiles.
bulletFixed a bug with the Spheroidal Multipoint Centroid in which it was calculating on the sphere rather than the spheroid.
bulletModified “Graphics to Feature Class” tool so that the new feature class would be symbolized with the symbol of the first graphic, if available.
bulletFixed bug in “Graphics to Feature Class” tool which caused a crash if there were grouped graphics available.
bulletDisabled “Convert Graphics to Features” option if either map document currently opened to Layout view, or if no graphics were available in map view.
bulletFixed bug in “Calculate Geometry” function in which spherical areas and centroids would occasionally crash if three vertices were on the same line of longitude.
bulletFixed a bug in “Select Graphics” function in which it always selected graphics from focus map, even if document was set to Layout view.
bulletBuild 2.1.72 (October 21, 2010)
bulletRearranged tools and menus
bulletAdded installation routines for ArcGIS 10.0.
bulletVarious cosmetic and efficiency modifications.
bulletBuild 2.1.72 (March 13, 2011)
bulletWrote additional ArcGIS 10 installation functions to fix problems in Windows Vista and Windows 7, and on 64-bit versions of Windows.
bulletBuild 2.1.80 (April 11, 2011)
bulletWrote work-arounds for an ArcGIS 10 bug which produced an error referring to an unknown error in the geometry system.
bulletBuild 2.1.81 (May 12, 2011)
bulletFixed a bug in which spheroidal distances were being calculated incorrectly by a small amount because the spheroid flattening was incorrect. It was being calculated as (a-b)/b instead of (a-b)/a.
bulletBuild 2.1.82 (May 12, 2011)
bulletFixed a bug in which the suggested field names for starting and ending azimuths for spheroidal polylines were reversed, so the new “End Azimuth” values would (unless the user changed the suggested field name manual) show up in a field named “Start_Az” and vice versa
bulletBuild 2.1.85 (June 1, 2011)
bulletFixed a bug in the “Split Multipart” tool in which it would raise an error upon completion of splitting multipart polylines, with the message “Subscript out of range” at line 1301.
bulletFixed a bug in the “Split Multipart” tool in which it would crash when attempting to split a multipoint feature.

Enjoy! Please contact the author if you have problems or find bugs.

            Jeff Jenness                            

            Jenness Enterprises                

            3020 N. Schevene Blvd.                     (928) 607-4638

            Flagstaff, AZ  86004


Please visit Jenness Enterprises ArcGIS Tools site for more ArcGIS tools and other software by the author. We also offer GIS consultation services for both ArcGIS and ArcView 3.x to help you meet your specific data analysis and application development needs.