Practical Introduction to ArcGIS


Instructor: Pierre Racine

Note that the french version of this page  is more complete and might be more up-to-date.


The objective of this course is to teach, in five days, the fundamentals of ArcGIS 9.x. Following this course, the student will be able to evaluate the utility of geographical information systems in scientific research, to integrate data coming from different sources into ArcGIS, to correctly map them and to process them in order to produce derived data. We will also look at some elements of spatial statistics and geostatistics.


The equivalent of a day and a half of classical lecture will introduce students to the basic principles of geographical information systems with focus on ArcGIS' distinctive features. The rest of the time will be devoted to practical exercises using ArcGIS. These exercises will allow students to integrate principles introduced during the lectures.


  • Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
    Model building, importance of geographical information, advantages of GIS, examples of application (civil engineering, epidemiology, forestry), basic principles (data acquisition and processing, vector vs. raster, 2d vs. 3d, layers of information).
  • Data Formats
    Tables vs. databases (relational joins), vector information (point, line, surface, formats (coverage, shapefile, geodatabase), topology)), raster information (formats, georeferencing), TIN, metadata, data precision.
  • Projections and Mapping (ArcMap)
    The projection problem, projection types, map types, representation and symbolization, labels, layout, problems related to representation.
  • Data Management, Process and Editing (ArcCatalog et ArcMap Editor)
    Data management and conversion, importation of GPS data, data editing, other conversion software.
  • Spatial Analysis, Spatial Statistics and Geostatistics (ArcToolbox and Spatial Analyst)
    Geoprocessing, vector analysis (transformations, selection, buffer, operations, spatial joins) and raster analysis (transformation, Grid Calculator, global, zonal, focal functions), Model Builder, spatial statistics, autocorrelation, kriging, problems related to spatial analysis (MAUP).
  • A Brief Look at Some ArcGIS Extensions
    3D Analyst, Network Analyst, Hawth’s tools, XTools, ET GeoWizards.
  • Other Resources
    Documentation, data, websites, forums.

Practical exercises

  1. Data Integration and Mapping
    Creation of a cartographic file containing many useful data types (administrative limits, roads, population, forest cover, elevation, economic statistics, GPS data, pictures (georeferencing) and derived data (data preparation and conversion, raster to vector conversion, projections, vector data editing)). Layer representation and symbolization.
  2. Choropleth Mapping
    Creation of a choropleth map using data integrated in the previous exercise.
  3. Selections, Measurements, Derivations and Spatial Analyses
    file merging, selection, clipping, buffer, dissolve, intersect, area computation.
  4. Edition and Spatial joint
    Symbologies export & import, table edition, vector edition, distance computation, spatial joint and reprojections.
  5. Topological Problems Handling
    Check of the topological characteristics of a layer and fix by editing, snapping.
  6. Creation of a 3D Model of the Montmorency Forest
    Raster edition, TIN creation, data integration and navigation in a 3D model.

Each exercise will be introduced and then completed by the students.



ArcGIS introductions

Theory on geographical information systems

En français

Spatial Analysis, Spatial Statistics and Geostatistics

Apatial Analysis in Ecology


spatially Explicit Dynamic Modelling


GIS and Ecology

GIS and Forestry

GIS in Hydrology

GIS and Environment

GIS in Health and epidemiology

Plus vieux

Spatial Analysis and Statistics in Health and epidemiology

Spatial Data Quality

Remote sensing


Introductions to ArcGIS



Ressources en français

Extensions à ArcGIS

  • Geospatial Modelling Environment  - Outils d’analyse spatiale spécialement conçus pour les applications écologiques. (Analyse de mouvement, sélection de ressources, interactions prédateur-proies, chaînes trophiques)
  • Xtools  - Ensemble d’outils spécialisés. Essai gratuit de 30 jours au delà duquel quelques outils continuent de fonctionner.
  • ET GeoWizards et ET GeoTools  - Plusieurs outils gratuits spécialisés pour la création et l’édition de topologies. ET GeoWizards pour le traitement des couches comme un seul ensemble. ET GeoTools pour le traitement des géométries individuelles.
  • Corridor Design's Tools  - Autres outils ArcGIS pour la connectivité, l'analyse de corridor ou la modélisation d'habitat.
  • Patch Analyst  - Outils gratuits pour la caractérisation de la fragmentation du paysage.
  • ArcScripts  - Ensemble de script créé par les membres de la communauté des utilisateurs de ArcGIS.
  • GSF Outils  - Ensemble d'outils utiles lorsqu’on dispose seulement d’une licence ArcView.

ArcView 3.2


Remote Sensing

Spatial statistics

Scientific Publications

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