16 Geoprocessing Tools Every GIS Analyst Should Know

16 Geoprocessing Tools To Use In GIS Homework Like GIS Pro

GIS involves utilization of tools in the GIS software to manage and analyze geographic(spatial) data. It mostly involves collection of data, processing and interpretation with an aim of creating maps. Other than possessing problem solving, team work, excellent communication and strong analytical skills; GIS Analysts must have knowledge of some basic geoprocessing tools.

Are you a student or newbie in using GIS software and would like learn to geoprocess like an expert GIS analyst? Well, you are at the right place. In this post, we have compiled an ultimate list of top 16 geoprocessing tools that GIS analysts at our GIS homework help service do use most.

You will learn basics as well as most common ways of processing GIS data that include clipping, buffering, merging, intersecting among others. Our comprehensive list of geoprocessing tools include tools that can be used in ArcGIS and QGIS softwares.

Geoprocessing tools are very essential when one wants to execute a certain analysis using the GIS software such ArcGIS or Qgis. Some of the most common geoprocessing tools that every GIS Analyst should know:

  1. Buffer tool
  2. Clip tool
  3. Merge Tool
  4. Dissolve tool
  5. Intersect Tool
  6. Union Tool
  7. The erase (Different) tool
  8. Spatial join tool
  9. Extract by Mask Tool
  10. Clip Raster Tool
  11. Extract by attributes tool
  12. Reclassify
  13. Project tool
  14. Near
  15. Calculate by Geometry
  16. Near

Buffer geoprocessing tool

This is a reclassification process based on distance inside or without a certain closeness. The output are normally polygons around input features at a given distance. Buffer geoprocessing process works in two ways: Euclidean and Geodesic.

Euclidean measures distances in 2D (Two-Dimensional) cartesian plane whereby the distances are calculated between two destinations on a cartesian plane (flat surface). It is ideal in analyzing distances around polygons that are focused in quite a small area.
Geodesic buffering calculates distances between two location or points on a geoid surface. The methods applied determine the kind of buffers created.

In ArcMap buffering can be performed through the following procedure: Click edit tool followed by clicking the feature where buffering is to be created around> click editor menu and then buffer> type the desired distance in map scale units> Select the target in which the new feature will be created> click ok.

geoprocessing tool
Figure 1: Showing Geoprocessing Buffer Tool


buffering process
Figure 2 Showing buffering process

Clipping geoprocessing in ArcGIS

This is creating a subset dataset from a larger dataset through cutting out a section of a certain dataset using a section or multiple of the features in another dataset. The clipping process is useful in choosing an area of interest or study area during spatial analysis. The clipping layer is always a polygon whereas the input layer can either be a polyline, points or polygons. Clipping can be performed both on vector and raster datasets. For Raster dataset, clipping is done using either graphics, data frame or polygons.

Clipping geoprocessing is as follows:

The first step involves clicking the edit tool on the editor tool bar

Clipping geoprocessing Tool
Figure 3: Showing Clipping geoprocessing Toll


Step two involves selecting the features to be clipped

clipping - geoprocessing tool
Figure 4: Showing the second step in clipping


Step 3 involves typing the input features, output features and the tolerance value. Click the type of clipping operation whether to maintain or discard, then Ok.

3rd step in Clipping geoprocessing
Figure 5: Showing the 3rd step in Clipping geoprocessing

Merge Geoprocessing Tool

Merging in ArcGIS involves combing chosen features of the same layer or multiple layers into a new single feature. The feature must be either from a polygon or a line layer. In addition, also data sets must be from the same data type. The selected feature can either be modified or preserved.

Merging process in ArcMap involves the following process: Clicking the edit tool bar followed by clicking the features you would like to merge. Click the merge tool then click the feature the features will be merged into and finally click Ok to execute the process.

merging tool
Figure 6: Showing merging tool



showing merging geoprocessing
Figure 7: Showing merging geoprocessing.

Dissolve Geoprocessing tool

Dissolving tool generalizes and simplifies boundaries from a more complex to a simple. In most cases this tool adjacent edges on a common attribute values basis. The edges(boundaries) will melts into one only if the neighboring polygons share the similar dissolving attribute.

In ArcMap, dissolving tool can be accessed in the data management tool in the generalization toolset. It involves setting the fields that you would like to dissolve. To perform the dissolving geoprocessing: Click Arctoolbox> data management tool > Generalization > Dissolve > double click it. In the new window pane that appears > input files > output files will be selected automatically > Dissolve > Ok.

location dissolve tool in the Arctoolbox
Figure 8: Showing the location of Dissolve tool in the Arctoolbox


dissolving geoprocessing
Figure 9: Showing Dissolving geoprocessing.


Intersect Tool

This tool calculates a geometric connection of the input features. In most cases, percentages or features of the feature that overlay in all layers or feature classes will be inscribed to the output(product) feature class. While performing this analysis it is advisable that the input features simple one like point, polygon or polyline.

To perform this analysis in ArcMap, go the toolbar > geoprocessing > intersect > enter the input feature, out put feature class, join attributes, tolerance attribute, output type > click Ok.

intersect geoprocessing tool
Figure 10: Showing intersect geoprocessing


Union Geoprocessing Tool

The Union geoprocessing performs calculation of geometric union of whatever number of feature layers and classes. All input feature layers or classes must polygons in order for the output feature class to comprise polygons representative of geometric union of all involvements as well as the all the fields from all the input feature classes. Furthermore, union tool controls the spatial reference, clusters and cracks the features, determines geometric relationsamongst features from all feature classes and inscribes new features to the output.

To perform Union geoprocessing in ArcMap: Go to geoprocessing > navigate to union > click union > input the features > click Ok to execute the analysis.

union geoprocessing
Figure 11: Showing union geoprocessing.


Erase Geoprocessing Tool

Erase tool generates a product feature class by overlapping the input features with the erase features. Only those percentages of the input features falling exterior of the erase features are copied to the product feature class.

To carry out erasing geoprocessing in ArcMap: Go to geoprocessing> navigate to search > type and search erase geoprocessing tool > Enter input features > enter erase features > enter output feature class > enter tolerance > click Ok to execute the analysis.

Erase geoprocessing tool
Figure 12: Showing erase geoprocessing.


Spatial Join Geoprocessing Tool

This tool joins attributes from one feature to another grounded on the spatial connection. The target features and the merged attributes from the combined features are inscribed in the product feature class. All attributes of the merge features are added to attributes of the target features and cliched over to the output feature class. In the process attributes to be written to the output can be defined.

Spatial join analysis can be carried out in ArcMap as follows: Click on the geoprocessing> navigate to search > type spatial join tool > click the tool > enter the target feature, join features, click Ok to execute the analysis.

spatial join geoprocessing tool
Figure 13: Showing spatial join geoprocessing.


Extract by Mask

This is a spatial analysis function that extracts the cells of a raster that correspond to the areas defined by a mask. Attributes from the input raster will be carried over to the output raster attribute table.

To perform extract by mask analysis in ArcMap, the following steps are followed: Click the geoprocessing and navigate to the search > type extract by mask > click the tool> input the Raster data, input the feature mask data, enter the output raster > Click Ok to execute the function.

Showing Extract by Mask Analysis
Figure 14 Showing Extract by Mask Analysis


Clip Raster Geoprocessing

The Clip Raster tool permits the extraction of a percentage of a raster dataset on the basis of a template extent. The clip product comprises of any pixels that interconnect the template extent.

Clip Raster geoprocessing is carried out in ArcMap as follows: Enable image analysis Toolbar > image analysis > select the Raster to clip > enter polygon boundary to clip to > Click clip icon > click save to export Raster.

Clip Raster geoprocessing tool
Figure 15: Showing Clip Raster geoprocessing


Extract by Attributes Geoprocessing

This function involves extraction of the cells of a raster on a logical query basis. Attributes from the input raster dataset are normally passed over to the product raster attribute table. Liable on the property presence documented, part of the attribute values may require to be recalculated.

In ArcMap, extract by attribute analysis can be performed as follows: Click on geoprocessing > Navigate to search and type “extract by attributes” > Navigate to the tool > enter input raster, enter the “where value cluster”, enter the output raster > click Ok to perform the analysis.

Showing the extract by attributes geoprocessing
Figure 16: Showing the extract by attributes geoprocessing.

Figure 15: Showing the extract by attributes geoprocessing.

Reclassify geoprocessing tool

Reclassify tool deals with values in a raster. The tool reclassifies the values in a raster. It uses some parameters such as “classify or unique” generates map based on the values of the input raster dataset.
Reclassify geoprocessing can be performed as follows in the ArcMap: On the geoprocessing navigate to search > enter “reclassify” > click on the tool analysis > enter the input raster, enter the reclass field, enter reclassification (whether unique or classify), enter the output raster > click Ok to execute the function.

reclass geoprocessing tool
Figure 17: Showing reclass geoprocessing

Project Geoprocessing Tool

Project geoprocessing tool is useful in projecting spatial data from one coordinate system to another. To perform this in the ArcMap, the following steps are followed: Go to Arctoolbox > Data management > projection and transformation > project > enter the input dataset or feature class, output dataset or feature class, output coordinate system > Click Ok to execute the function.

showing project geoprocessing tool
Figure 18: Showing project geoprocessing tool.

Near geoprocessing Tool

Near(analysis) tool helps the GIS Analyst to compute distance and extra nearness info between the input features and the nearby feature in another layer or feature class. To perform “near analysis” in ArcMap, the following steps are useful: On the geoprocessing navigate to the search > type “near analysis” > On the appeared tab enter the: Input features, near feature, enter the method and click Ok to execute the function.

Showing near(analysis) geoprocessing
Figure 19 Showing near(analysis) geoprocessing

Calculate by geometry geoprocessing tool

Calculate by geometry can be utilized by any GIS analyst when they want to add info to a feature’s attribute fields in place of geometric features and location of each feature like area or length, elevation and x-y coordinates.

To carry out “calculate by geometry” in ArcMap, the following steps can be followed: go to the geoprocessing and navigate to search > click and type “calculate by geometry” > click in the “add geometry attributes”> enter input features, geometry properties, length unit, area unit > click Ok to execute the function.

Showing calculate by geometry geoprocessing
Figure 20 Showing calculate by geometry geoprocessing


Introduction to arcgis pro (no date) Introduction to ArcGIS Pro-ArcGIS Pro | Documentation. Available at: https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/latest/get-started/get-started.htm (Accessed: April 3, 2023).

Comparison Between ArcGIS and QGIS

10 Epic Difference Between ArcGIS and QGIS – GIS Software Comparison

ArcGIS is an interactive cloud-based mapping and analysis solution used to make maps, analyze share and collaborate data. However, like in every other thing under the sun, it has competition and I have to say, the competition is quite stiff for ArcGIS.

The competition comes in the form of QGIS, which is an open-source Geographic information system (GIS) that supports most geospatial vectors, raster files, as well as database formats and facilitates a seamless experience as far as mapping and data editing, is concerned.

However, in a world full of choices, we are all wired to want to go with the best there is. There are a couple of differences between the both of them that could put your mind to rest as you select the best one and I think would be to your best interest if you dived right into it and waste no more time.

Difference Between ArcGIS and QGIS
10 Differences bewtween ArcGIS & QGIS


Are you a student who needs to complete his GIS or QGIS assignment? then you must be working on a budget. When working on a budget, you will go out there looking for the best tools you can get for as cheap as you can get them or preferably for free, which is where the first difference comes in.

QGIS is pocket friendly and is available for free, all that you need is a compatible gadget and a good internet connection and you are good to go. However, ArcGIS sways differently and requires paid license for you to use, which is not economical and as I break this down you will realize that despite the fact that they have attached a price tag to it, they offer less than QGIS.

While some will argue of exclusivity that is regulated by licensing, I tend to think they are missing the point of having the software by a mile. Nevertheless, let’s roll on to the next major difference between ArcGIS and QGIS.

Accessibility Tools

I thought this fits in here perfectly, after all, we can start with all the money business and get it out of the way. Having to work, the smart way (with the help of GIS software), entitles you to a couple of privileges that make your work easier, among them, accessibility tools.

Tools, will make your work a whole lot easier and having what you need is better than needing something and not having it. To make an extensive study of your map, you will need these tools and both ArcGIS and QGIS offer these, which is a thumbs up to both of them. HEYY!!That’s a similarity, we came here for the differences!!! How are they different? Calm down, here it is…

Well, QGIS provide these tools to you for free and are easily accessible at no extra or hidden costs, however, things get costly with ArcGIS, as they will need some extra pennies for you to access these tools. This has been known to be a limiting factor to most users and to be honest, I get why they would frown upon it as well. Due to accessibility and cost factors, most students who have to complete assignment using ArcGIS are forced to pay someone to do GIS assignments for them.

File Format Accessibility

When it comes to GIS, data is the major player and working from different devices as well as sourcing the data from different sources, you will be prone to getting files in different formats. Developers were therefore left with a daunting task of having this provision in their software which is why QGIS, has been termed to be quite versatile and accommodative as they have executed this with precision, accommodating a wide range of formats (estimated over 70 formats) in their software.

While you, me and QGIS agree that we need software that allows you to bring in data in different formats, ArcGIS are of a different opinion and have a very limited array of file formats for you, which from users, is not sufficient.

User-friendly Interface

Well, as far as working is concerned, the easier the better, which is why you are looking for the software to make your work and in extension your life easier. Well, ArcGIS can do this for you. Given that it is able to recognize GIS formats, all you have to do is click one simple add data button and it will get you data in the required format, well, QGIS will do the same thing for you but you will have to select all what you manually.


In an effort to remain unbiased, I have to interject this downtrend and give one point to ArcGIS after all they are not all that bad. Working with data processing software and in this case, mapping software, reliability is of great importance and in comparison to QGIS, ArcGIS has proven its worth.

Reliability, in this case, is based on the output given and the results from ArcGIS are much better given that it has better spatial topological analytical capabilities when compared to its rival, QGIS.

Processing Time

By now you are probably used to the idea of fast internet, fast application, quick processors which might explain why gadgets are being fitted with even more processors with every production and I believe that you wouldn’t want it any other way when it comes to working. This is why one of the things you need to consider when comparing QGIS to ArcGIS. Despite the fact that ArcGIS has proven its worth as far as reliability is concerned it drops the ball on processing speed and is much slower when compared to QGIS which has better rendering capabilities as well.

Operating System

The 21st century has brought many good things and among them is the freedom of the choice of gadgets to use. Yes, this has created a rift(a healthy one of course) between android and apple users as well as those who prefer to be unique and opt for Linux. Well, if you have any of these and are looking for a GIS software then you cannot go wrong with QGIS, thanks to their accommodative nature. However, if you are an android or mac OS user, then you might just have to settle for just QGIS without the option of trying out ArCGIS, as they do not support the installation of their platform on these operating systems. Well, that is another point for QGIS.


Now to the juicy part of things, while both of these softwares are well capable at what they do and manage incredibly well with vector, raster and GIS data, you need to filter the data and search for missing bits of data sets thanks to filter and search tools. ArcGIS avails more options to navigate and manage the geo-data in your system files than QGIS and goes the extra mile to not only do this for data but also for models and maps.

Joining Tables

Once more, the user-friendliness property in ArcGIS dominates as it allows you to effortlessly do it by just right-clicking on a layer and then clicking the ‘join’ button.

QGIS will, however, need you to invoke your expertise in joining tables with layer properties. And while I do not doubt your ability to join tables, you are better off with easier work.

User Guide

I have to admit, ArcGIS have a really nice customer service experience as they don’t leave you high and dry to find your way through their software but will give you an elaborate document that guides you on how data can be delivered, the use of certain tools and pretty much anything that you might need to do. On the other hand, as a first time user of QGIS, you will probably need to somehow find your way through it or log onto YouTube and an Indian dude will give you a tour of all you need to know.

By this point, you are already getting the vibe, and while QGIS does not have an upper hand in everything, it comes on top as it is more accommodative and offers a vast array of options for its users. By choosing to work with QGIS, you will cut costs as well as get the most from what a geo-information system has to offer. However, if you are still curious and are looking to get hands-on experience, then you can still opt into ArcGIS, of course, with the right operating system as well as equipped with a licence fee, and you will be good to go. We can all agree that nothing beats hands-on experience, but at least you will go into it prepared and not get your hopes and expectations shattered.

One of the reasons that has made QGIS seem to be superior to ArcGIS in terms of its practicability and ease of access is due to the fact that QGIS is a community software that allows people to add on to its functionality while ArcGIS is developed and regulated by ESRI, and the team behind it has put in a lot of effort into making it a good competition. The disparity in these two operations will definitely stiffen the completion but you can expect more changes and developments in QGIS than you will find in ArcGIS. But remember, if you have a few extra bucks to spare you can run both of them concurrently.

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