Geoprocessing tools, selections, and filters

Many geoprocessing tools have parameters that accept feature layers, raster layers, and table views. Layers and tables support selections, highlights, and other filters, including definition queries and time and range filters. Definition queries and filters allow you to focus on an area of interest in the data.

  • Selections—Defines a subset of records in a layer or table that have been selected. Selections can be made interactively, by an attribute query or spatial query using the Select Layer By Attribute or Select Layer By Location geoprocessing tools.
  • Highlighted records—Defines a further subset of selected records.
  • Definition query—Defines a subset of features in a layer. A definition query filters the features retrieved from the dataset by the layer.
  • Time filter—Filters time ranges for a layer.
  • Range filter—Filters numeric data ranges for a layer.

In a map, table, or chart view, a filter limits the visible records, and selected and highlighted records appear in a selection and highlight color. By default, the selection color is cyan and the highlight color is yellow.

Selections, highlights, and filters limit the records that are processed by geoprocessing tools. When choosing an input with a selection, highlight, or filter as a parameter value, a message indicates the selection or filter status and the number of records the tool will process. Use the toggle button to honor the selection or filter, or turn the toggle button off to process all records in the layer or table. For example, if a layer with a definition query has a selection applied, turning off the toggle button means the tool will use all records, not only those defined by the definition query. The toggle button will not change the selection, highlight, or filter state; it will only change the records that are processed by the tool.

An input with a selection

When applying a selection or filter, a selection of zero records can result. For example, selecting a value that is not present in the attribute field results in a selection of zero records. A geoprocessing tool that uses the layer as input will use no records from the input. This case is typically accompanied by a warning indicating that the input or output is empty.

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