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Euclidean Direction

Available with Spatial Analyst license.


Calculates, for each cell, the direction, in degrees, to the nearest source.

Learn more about Euclidean distance analysis


Euclidean Direction illustration
Euc_Dir = EucDirection(Source_Ras)


  • The input source data can be a feature class or raster.

  • The output values are based on compass directions (90 to the east, 180 to the south, 270 to the west, and 360 to the north), with 0 reserved for the source cells.

  • When the input source data is a raster, the set of source cells consists of all cells in the source raster that have valid values. Cells that have NoData values are not included in the source set. The value 0 is considered a legitimate source. A source raster can be easily created using the extraction tools.

  • When the input source data is a feature class, the source locations are converted to a raster internally before performing the analysis.

  • When using polygon feature data for the input source data, care must be taken with how the output cell size is handled when it is coarse, relative to the detail present in the input. The internal rasterization process employs the same default Cell assignment type as the Polygon to Raster tool, which is the cell center method. This means that data not located at the center of the cell will not be included in the intermediate rasterized source output, so it will not be represented in the distance calculations. For example, if your sources are a series of small polygons (such as building footprints) that are small relative to the output cell size, it is possible that only a few will fall under the centers of the output raster cells, seemingly causing most of the others to be lost in the analysis.

    To avoid this situation, as an intermediate step, you could rasterize the input features directly with the Polygon to Raster tool and set a Priority field. Then use the resulting output as input to the particular distance tool you want to use. Alternatively, you could select a small cell size to capture the appropriate amount of detail from the input features.

  • The Maximum distance is specified in the same map units as the input source data.

  • The Output cell size can be defined by a numeric value or obtained from an existing raster dataset. If the cell size hasn’t been explicitly specified as the parameter value, it is derived from the Cell Size environment if it has been specified. If the parameter cell size or the environment cell size have not been specified, the default output cell size is determined based on the type of input dataset as follows:

    • If the input dataset is a raster, the cell size of the dataset is used.
    • If the input dataset is a feature and the Snap Raster environment has been set, the cell size of the snap raster is used. If no snap raster is set, the cell size is calculated from the shorter of the width or height of the extent divided by 250, where the extent is in the Output Coordinate System specified in the environment.
  • If the cell size is specified using a numeric value, the tool will use it directly for the output raster.

    If the cell size is specified using a raster dataset, the parameter will show the path of the raster dataset instead of the cell size value. The cell size of that raster dataset will be used directly in the analysis, provided the spatial reference of the dataset is the same as the output spatial reference. If the spatial reference of the dataset is different than the output spatial reference, it will be projected based on the selected Cell Size Projection Method.

  • Allocation is not an available output because there can be no floating-point information in the source data. If allocation output is desired, use the Euclidean Allocation tool, which can generate all three outputs (allocation, distance, and direction) at the same time.

  • This tool creates internal scratch files during processing. You can control this location using the system temp variable (TEMP, TMP, User Profile). If the geoprocessing tool is unable to write to this location, an error will be generated. While processing large data there can be a very large file created so make sure a lot of disk space is available. This internal scratch file is managed by the application and gets deleted when the application is closed.

  • See Analysis environments and Spatial Analyst for additional details on the geoprocessing environments that apply to this tool.


EucDirection (in_source_data, {maximum_distance}, {cell_size}, {out_distance_raster}, {distance_method})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The input source locations.

This is a raster or feature dataset that identifies the cells or locations to which the Euclidean distance for every output cell location is calculated.

For rasters, the input type can be integer or floating point.

Raster Layer; Feature Layer

Defines the threshold that the accumulative distance values cannot exceed.

If an accumulative Euclidean distance value exceeds this value, the output value for the cell location will be NoData.

The default distance is to the edge of the output raster.


The cell size of the output raster that will be created.

This parameter can be defined by a numeric value or obtained from an existing raster dataset. If the cell size hasn't been explicitly specified as the parameter value, the environment cell size value will be used if specified; otherwise, additional rules will be used to calculate it from the other inputs. See the usage for more detail.

Analysis Cell Size

The output Euclidean distance raster.

The distance raster identifies, for each cell, the Euclidean distance to the closest source cell, set of source cells, or source location.

The output raster is of floating-point type.

Raster Dataset

Determines whether to calculate the distance using a planar (flat earth) or a geodesic (ellipsoid) method.

  • PLANARThe calculation will be performed on a projected flat plane using a 2D Cartesian coordinate system. This is the default method.
  • GEODESICDistances are calculated on the ellipsoid. Therefore, regardless of input or output projection, the results do not change.

Return Value

NameExplanationData Type

The output Euclidean direction raster.

The direction raster contains the calculated direction, in degrees, that each cell center is from the closest source cell center.

The range of values is from 0 degrees to 360 degrees, with 0 reserved for the source cells. Due east (right) is 90 and the values increase clockwise (180 is south, 270 is west, and 360 is north).

The output raster is of integer type.


Code sample

EucDirection example 1 (Python window)

The following Python Window script demonstrates how to use the EuclideanDirection tool.

import arcpy
from arcpy import env
from import *
env.workspace = "C:/sapyexamples/data"
outEucDirect = EucDirection("observers", 35000, 50, 
EucDirection example 2 (stand-alone script)

Calculates the direction in degrees that each cell center is from the cell center of the closest source.

# Name:
# Description: Calculates the direction in degrees that each 
#              cell center is from the cell center of the 
#              closest source.
# Requirements: Spatial Analyst Extension

# Import system modules
import arcpy
from arcpy import env
from import *

# Set environment settings
env.workspace = "C:/sapyexamples/data"

# Set local variables
inSource = "observers.shp"
maxDist = 35000
cellSize = 50
optOutDistance = "c:/sapyexamples/output/optdistout"

# Execute EucDirections
outEucDirect = EucDirection(inSource, maxDist, cellSize, 

# Save the output"c:/sapyexamples/output/eucoutdir02")

Licensing information

  • Basic: Requires Spatial Analyst
  • Standard: Requires Spatial Analyst
  • Advanced: Requires Spatial Analyst

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