Using ArcObjects in Python

Recently, I found the need for more fine-grained control over a map document than the Arcpy library alone could afford, so I turned to the comtypes library (downloaded here) and associated Snippets file (ArcGIS 10.1 version here), which allows access to VBA-based ArcObjects. The Mark Cederholm presentation I followed is from the 2010 ESRI Dev Summit, so it is possible that this method is somewhat outdated, but it does exactly what I need.

Here is a simple example showing how to add some guides to the layout rulers in a map document, which is not possible solely using Arcpy:

# Import the modules
from comtypes.client import GetModule, CreateObject
from Snippets import GetStandaloneModules, InitStandalone

# First time through, need to import the “StandaloneModules”. Can comment out later.
# GetStandaloneModules()

# Get the Carto module
esriCarto = GetModule(r”C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\Desktop10.1\com\esriCarto.olb”)

# Create a map document object
mxdObject = CreateObject(esriCarto.MapDocument, interface=esriCarto.IMapDocument)

# Create new mxd file

# Create some new layout guides
for i in range(1,21):

# Change current view to layout

# Save the mxd

# Delete the map document object
del mxdObject

…and the result:



3 thoughts on “Using ArcObjects in Python

  1. Pingback: Accessing ArcObjects in Python | Tereshenkov's Blog

    1. dkwiens Post author

      Glad you found it somewhat useful. The hardest part for me was navigating the ArcObjects help pages, but it’s worth the effort if you need to do something simple (like the example) that’s not available via arcpy. Much easier than, say, learning VBA.


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