In this overview, Emmanuel Jolaiya, a GIS analyst and data scientist, introduces readers to ModelBuilder in ArcGIS which can be used to build models for analyzing and manipulating GIS Data. This overview discusses why and when to use ModelBuilder. In part two of this series, Emmanuel provides a tutorial on how to use ModelBuilder.
Ever wondered how to automate those boring and recurring GIS tasks? Yes, like the kind that involves clipping/masking data, then filling DEMs and then calculating flow accumulation then flow direction then… Honestly speaking, those tasks can be daunting. And in the quest of seeking for a solution, you might have sought help from friends or fellow GISers on how to automate some GIS processes and with no iota of doubt, I’m pretty sure most of the responses would probably be to learn Python and that’s fine. Learning Python is very good advice. They really want to see you grow.
Well, here is a piece of good news. Do you know you can use ModelBuilder to automate most of your GIS tasks? You necessarily don’t need to write codes every time. A simple model can solve a lot of your daily problems. Yes, you can build a model for your frequent analysis and tasks using ModelBuilder in ArcGIS.
Esri defines ModelBuilder as a “visual programming language for building geoprocessing workflows”. Geoprocessing models automate and document your spatial analysis and data management processes. You can find the tool in all versions of ArcMap and ArcPro.
A model is represented as a diagram, flowchart, or workflow that chains together sequences of processes and geoprocessing tools, using the output of one process as the input to another process. It provides advanced methods for extending GIS functionality by allowing you to create and share your models as tools.
Blue represents the Inputs, yellow represent the tools, and the green represents the outputs, all connected together by an arrow.
If yes, create parameters, variables, and deploy the tool. See part2 for the detailed procedure.
If no, run your model and close the model builder
The ModelBuilder allows us to optimize time, create reusable and sharable tools, visualize workflow in an easy-to-understand diagram and create complex models for our daily tasks which will optimize our time and save us lots of energy. I strongly hope you’ll start building your models today :)
Thank you for reading along! Please feel free to share your experiences with model builder probably some aspects I did not cover in this article e.g. the disadvantage if there is/are any :)
PS: If you know all this already, I’m very sorry, consider this article a refresher and if this is completely new to you, you are welcome!
Emmanuel Jolaiya is a GIS analyst, data scientist, and GIS development enthusiast with a keen interest in transforming data into insights that aids in making informed decisions. He is a 2020 YouthMappers Research Fellow and 2020 Esri Nigeria, Young Scholar Awardee. He has a passion for data and technology with a focus on building sustainable architecture for interoperability and efficient data use toward building solutions that address the most pressing issues in our world and ultimately making the world a better place for us all. Follow him @jeafreezy
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