It is assumed that the learner has the skills and understanding as noted in the introduction. This module will provide a general overview of Python scripting. The Python covered in this module will not be related to geospatial technologies, but instead will be a basic understanding of how Python functions and the structure of the scripts. Some of the concepts in this general module will be covered in more depth when they deal specifically with geospatial technology in future modules.
Many times in geospatial technology the same operation is done on multiple data sets which causes the user to do repetitive operations. In general, this is moving the cursor around, clicking on different buttons, selecting specific files and commands. As part of the operation, manual decisions are required based on the data to be analyzed; many maps will lack functionality, creativity and flexibility. Throughout these technical skills lessons, good naming conventions will be stressed.
- Use of Python scripts will provide the learner with ways to explore automating multiple processes in a single script. For example, when creating clips using the same polygon file on multiple features like roads, rivers and landmarks, a single line of script can be used for each clip instead of the multiple processes required to manually perform the task. The data content can provide for different mapping solutions without the need to review the results.
- Analyses can be automated to determine the best way to utilize data sets.
- The use of decision making routines based on how a field is displayed or calculated can provide for more dynamic mapped results.
- Creation of specialized tools for routine operations that are redundant is a very important concept. For example, if sets of counties are merged together and then used as the clipping boundary for statewide data sets, this could be created in a single simple script. Manual input of the counties would be required; the script would merge the counties and make a new polygon, this boundary would clip the information from the statewide data sets. The real power of this type of script is when the same type of operation is required again for another set of counties.