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GIS Tutorial for Python Scripting Paperback – 30 Aug 2014

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About the Author

David W. Allen is the GIS manager for the City of Euless, Texas. He has taught at Tarrant County College since 1999, where he helped found one of the first GIS degree programs in Texas and establish a state standard for GIS degree programs. He is the author of GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook (Esri Press, 2013) and Getting to Know ArcGIS® ModelBuilder™ (Esri Press, 2011) and the co-author of GIS Tutorial 3: Advanced Workbook (Esri Press, 2011).

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8dee7fcc) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df1212c) out of 5 stars This is Currently the Best of the Three Available Books on Python for ArcGIS 19 July 2014
By Mark R. Jorgensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a niche that already has two entry-level books on Python programming for ArcGIS is there a need for this book? Mr. Allen, author of several other ESRI Press books, demonstrates that writing a better book than the competition provides the answer - for "GIS Tutorial for Python Scripting" is the introductory book you should buy. The alternatives are Paul A. Zandbergen's "Python Scripting for ArcGIS" (ESRI Press, 2013) and Eric Pimpler's "Programming ArcGIS 10.1 with Python Cookbook" (Packt Publishing, 2013).

Mr. Allen takes a "workbook" approach to the subject: each chapter has worked-out examples matched with tutorials. I appreciate that when the author provides technical details he also provides a good explanation of what is going on. The essential topics - stand-alone Python scripts, Python toolboxes and Python add-ins - are covered in sufficient detail for an introductory text to give the reader a solid grounding. What distinguishes this book from the others is its superior organization, clarity of text, examples and tutorials. Though the other books cover similar material (I own them both) Allen's "GIS Tutorial for Python Scripting" is the one I recommend for those new to this subject. The data for the book is available for download at esripress.esri.com/bookresources/ and a 60-day trial of ArcGIS for Desktop software is also available. Unlike ESRI Press books of the past there is no data dvd bundled with the book. Appendix B, "The Tool Index", is another helpful feature and my first stop when using the book.

Keep in mind that all three books are introductory books. Practice using the tools will be essential for you and ArcGIS help, resources and forums will be valuable aids for your development as will many other websites found by googling the subject on the web. Debugging Python scripts for ArcGIS remains a tedious process and even here Mr. Allen makes useful suggestions to minimize the pain. Though this book is a good addition to the field I will note that this area currently lacks any intermediate books on the subject though several are in preparation by other authors.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df140a8) out of 5 stars A book with technical problems 20 Dec. 2014
By Paul Jameson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A more rigorous approach to Python scripting than other books I've seen. The book does not teach basic Python or GIS. Users of this book must know ArcGIS and should know basic Python beforehand. Zandbergen's book: "Python Scripting for ArcGIS (PSFA)" is a good precursor to this book and if you do not know Python well I would suggest going through that book first. When this book (GIS Tutorial) brought up subjects briefly, I found it useful to refer back to Zandbergen's book for a refresher. For example the Describe() function in this book is introduced with two or three sentences, whereas in PSFA four pages are devoted to it.

This book has a Tool Index in the back, but not a subject index. They are almost the same but I think this book could be improved if they would add a general subject index. But if not, the existing tool index refers to the section in the book where a tool is discussed. It should refer to the page number instead.

Now I come to the font used for showing code. Why all the changes - even on the same page. In some cases the font starts out normal, like the other text - then it gets smaller, and then even smaller down to about 4 or 5! Good grief! If you are going to do that include one of those flat magnifying glasses with the book. I think 9 is the minimum font size in a publication. But then I ran across a case on page 73 where he did not reduce the font, just lopped off the end of some code! Very very poor editing dude.

Also, it appears to me that the writer (David Allen) might have been in a hurry to publish because there are sometimes misleading codes which made me wonder, "where did that come from?" For example, on page 50 he showed the code: fcName = "ZIPCODES_poly" and then on the next page in concluding his discussion he showed the code again but this time as: "fcName = "complan" without any explanation why it was changed. For a student that can be confusing. It makes one think, "did I miss something?" and then you find yourself rereading unnecessarily; however, later the change seemed to make sense since he was expanding his code to include other feature class names but did not bother to tell you he was doing that at first when the change was made. Such little clues make it easier to follow the logic of the reader ... and yes it adds to the book length, but at 254 pages this book is a lightweight in the computer book world and making it longer would be no problem.

His use of tutorial exercises followed by asking the reader to duplicate the tutorial with a different dataset or a different approach is a good challenge, and it is one of the things that makes the book more rigorous in that it does not hold your hand through every process and also requires the reader to review tool definitions within arcgis itself.

I kind of recommend the book, but with reservation and recommend that the "experienced novice" also have a copy of Zandbergen's book.

I know Mr. Allen can put together a good book - I studied his MODELBUILDER book, but this effort falls far short of that one. It needs going over by people with a sharp pencil and willingness to cut and paste. Here is a suggestion: combine the more advanced aspects of this book with Zandbergen's book. Be willing to make it 700 or so pages and you will have a great resource.

I originally gave this book 4 stars, but sorry I have to change it to 2 stars. It really needs going over and a major editing process.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df141b0) out of 5 stars Not for Beginners or Technophobes. 7 April 2015
By GISProfessor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is very difficult for beginners. The author assumes that the reader knows lots of techie terms...if you're a technophobe, than you'll end up throwing this book out the window. Also, this book is any thing but all-inclusive. The author constantly tells his readers to "read this other book for more info" or "go to ArcGIS Help". Question: Why pay money for a book that's going to tell you to go to other resources and other books? This book may be good for those who are already familiar with Python, but if you're a beginner, than follow this book's advice and read another book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df14df8) out of 5 stars Want to be Frustrated? Buy this Book! 12 Mar. 2015
By JEFF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a poorly structured Tutorial Book. I found it difficult to understand and hard to follow.

This book is definitely not for beginners. If you’re just starting out learning Python for ArcGIS I would stay away from this book. Before beginning each tutorial there’s extensive reading to be done on ArcGIS for Desktop Help as a preparation to the information presented in the tutorials. This book is definitely not an all-inclusive Tutorial book. This additional reading could easily make this book a 500 page endeavor instead of the 288 pages shown inside the book.

The author makes very broad learning assumptions from Tutorial to Exercises. Sometimes the exercises feel like they don't coincide with the tutorials. If you don’t have previous Python experience or you are unfamiliar with using Python for Geo-processing you will struggle to get through the tutorials. There is always something new introduced in the exercise that was not covered in the tutorial. This led to a lot of frustration when trying to complete the exercises. The book is also littered with mistakes. I could not find errata available online at the time of this review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df14d08) out of 5 stars or used python before then this is a good book. I have the ESRI GIS scripting book 22 Mar. 2015
By Sara Paape - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those wanting to dive into GIS python scripting as a beginner I would not suggest this book. I have some previous experience with python scripting so this was not a problem. I'd say if you'd played around with model builder and published to python scripts, or have programmed before, or used python before then this is a good book. I have the ESRI GIS scripting book, which I would recommend over this one for beginners. Otherwise the book is useful. Tutorials are a good learning angle for those wanting more practice, or need a refresher.
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