While most geoprocessing tools produce a new dataset specified in an output dataset parameter, some tools do not create output datasets. Instead, these tools modify or update the input dataset, geodatabase, or workspace, or produce messages, output values, or reports.
Tools that modify or update the input data
The following are categories of tools that modify or update the input dataset, geodatabase, or workspace:
- Tools that modify the input by updating the feature geometry, such as the tools in the Editing toolbox.
- Tools that modify the input by adding and removing attribute fields, also called a schema update, such as Add Field or Delete Field.
- Tools that modify the input by changing values in the attribute fields, such as Calculate Field.
- Tools that update the input by applying layer properties or changing the layer state, such as Add Join, Select Layer By Location, and Apply Symbology From Layer.
- Tools that update the input by changing the dataset properties, such as Define Projection.
- Tools that update the input by creating new classes in the geodatabase or modifying their properties, such as Create Relationships Class.
Take precautions when using a tool that modifies the input dataset. If you are unsure whether you want to modify the input dataset, do the following:
- If available, use the Enable Undo option. Several geoprocessing tools that modify the input dataset have an Enable Undo toggle button next to the Run button, which allows you to undo the changes the tool makes to the input dataset.
- Make a backup copy of the input data, and run the tool using one copy as input, leaving the other copy in its original state.
- When input data is stored in a versioned geodatabase, tools will only modify the single version of the data. The version must be reconciled and posted to apply changes to the rest of the database.
Tools that produce messages, output values, or reports
Tools such as Calculate Value or Get Count write their result as a message or output value, while others, such as Spatial Autocorrelation, create reports. You can find these messages, output values, and reports in the messages window or geoprocessing history.