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Feature Class Z To ASCII


Exports 3D features to ASCII text files storing GENERATE, XYZ, or profile data.


  • The Profile format provides profile information for 3D line features that can be imported into specialized graphing applications. Each line feature in the source feature class will be written to a separate file whose name is suffixed with the line's unique ID. Each row in the profile table contains the distance from the starting position of the line to the vertex (D) followed by the elevation of that vertex.

    0 z1D1 z2D2 z3D3 z4
  • The XYZ format store x, y, and z coordinates as floating-point values, where each row represents a distinct point record.

    x1 y1 z1x2 y2 z2x3 y3 z3x4 y4 z4

    Point and multipoint features are written to the same file, whereas each polygon and polyline feature is written to a separate text file whose name is suffixed with the feature's ID. Each part of features with multiple parts gets written to a separate file and its file name will have its part number appended after the feature's ID.

  • The GENERATE format does not support header lines, but it stores all input features in one file.

    • Point features are stored with their respective ID and XYZ coordinates, and the last line is denoted by the END keyword:
      id1 x1 y1 z1id2 x2 y2 z2id3 x3 y3 z3id4 x4 y4 z4END

      Multipoint features that originate from the same record in the originating feature class will share the same ID.

    • Line and polygon features are separated by the END keyword, and two successive END keywords indicate the end of the file:
      id1x1 y1 z1x2 y2 z2x3 y3 z3x4 y4 z4END
      id2x1 y1 z1x2 y2 z2END

      The first and last XYZ coordinates for polygon features are always identical.


FeatureClassZToASCII_3d (in_feature_class, output_location, out_file, {format}, {delimiter}, {decimal_format}, {digits_after_decimal}, {decimal_separator})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The 3D point, multipoint, polyline, or polygon feature class that will be exported to an ASCII file.

Feature Layer

The folder that output files will be written to.


The name of the resulting ASCII file.

If a line or polygon feature class is exported to XYZ format, the file name is used as a base name. Each feature will have a unique file output since the XYZ format only supports one line or polygon per file. Multipart features will also have each part written to a separate file. The file name will be appended with the OID of each feature, as well as any additional characters needed to make each file name unique.


The format of the ASCII file being created.

  • GENERATEWrites output in the GENERATE format. This is the default.
  • XYZWrites XYZ information of input features. One file will be created for each line or polygon in the input feature.
  • PROFILEWrites profile information for line features that can be used in external graphing applications.

The delimiter used to indicate the separation of entries in the columns of the text file table.

  • SPACEA space will be used to delimit field values. This is the default.
  • COMMAA comma will be used to delimit field values. This option is not applicable if the decimal separator is also a comma.

The method used to determine the number of significant digits stored in the output files.

  • AUTOMATICThe number of significant digits needed to preserve the available precision, while removing unnecessary trailing zeros, is automatically determined. This is the default.
  • FIXEDThe number of significant digits is defined in the Digits after Decimal parameter.

Used when the Decimal Notation is set to FIXED. This determines how many digits after the decimal are written for floating-point values written to the output files.


The decimal character used to differentiate the integer of a number from its fractional part.

  • DECIMAL_POINTA point is used as the decimal character. This is the default.
  • DECIMAL_COMMAA comma is used as the decimal character.

Code sample

FeatureClassZToASCII example 1 (Python window)

The following sample demonstrates the use of this tool in the Python window.

arcpy.env.workspace = "C:/data"
arcpy.FeatureClassZToASCII_3d("LidarPts.shp", "", "ASCII_LidarPts.txt",
                            "GENERATE", "COMMA", "FIXED", 6, "DECIMAL_POINT")
FeatureClassZToASCII example 2 (stand-alone script)

The following sample demonstrates the use of this tool in a stand-alone Python script.

Name: FeatureClassZToASCII Example
Description: This script demonstrates how to use the
             FeatureClassZToASCII tool to create generate files for all
             z-aware point features in a given workspace.
import arcpy

    # Set environment settings
    arcpy.env.workspace = 'C:/data'
    # List all points in the target workspace
    fcList = arcpy.ListFeatureClasses("*", "POINT")
    if fcList:
        # Set Local Variables
        outFolder = "C:/output"
        outFormat = "GENERATE"
        delimeter = "SPACE"
        decimal = "FIXED"
        digits = 3
        dec_sep = "DECIMAL_POINT"
        for fc in fcList:
            # Use Describe method to evaluate whether the feature class is z-aware
            desc = arcpy.Describe(fc)
            if desc.hasZ == True:
                # Define the output file name by replacing '.shp' with _ascii.txt
                outName = fc.replace('.shp', '') + "_ascii.txt"
                #Execute FeatureClassZToASCII_3d
                arcpy.FeatureClassZToASCII_3d(fc, outFolder, outName, outFormat, delimeter, decimal, digits, dec_sep)
        print("There are no feature classes in the " + env.workspace + " directory.")

except arcpy.ExecuteError:
except Exception as err:

Licensing information

  • ArcGIS Desktop Basic: Yes
  • ArcGIS Desktop Standard: Yes
  • ArcGIS Desktop Advanced: Yes

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