What is the Anaconda distribution?
Anaconda is an open-source Python distribution that makes is possible to easily install and manage many pre-packaged third party Python modules. It is a competing fully open-source alternative to the Enthought Python Distribution (EPD).
It has some big advantages over using the Python Esri provides with ArcGIS:
- Very useful tools and modules not in Esri's standard distribution are available (iPython, pandas, etc).
- You can install and update the Python stack as a regular (non-pr) user
- You can install and remove, and update third party packages easily, with Anaconda checking for compatibility for you
- A single Python install stack can be used to set up different "virtual environments"
The general workflow to make this happen is to:
- Install Anaconda without fouling the Windows environment (paths, registry) to break Esri's python stack
- Configure Anaconda with the particular add-ons you want, and
- Configure ArcGIS's Python so that it is aware of the appropriate Anaconda content.
1) Install MiniConda (Single-User - no admin access needed)
Miniconda only includes the minimal Python (the main distribution now includes R and many other packages and is very large).
Download MiniConda for Python 2.7
Download links: ( x32 | x64 ) (save do not run link)
The 32-bit version works with ArcGIS Desktop (which is 32-bit)
The 64-bit version is optional, but required to use Anaconda with ArcGIS background processing (and Pro)
Run the .exe installers
Select install for a single user (Not "All Users")
- Install to a folder where there is going to be plenty of space (recommend the D drive, not the C drive)
- IMPORTANT: To avoid breaking ArcGIS, uncheck the checkboxes (a) make Anaconda the default Python and (b) add Anaconda's Python to the PATH.
- Here are screenshots to help guide you through the install process.
Set up the Start menu shortcuts
Open a command window and enter these commands:
conda install console_shortcut
conda install console_shortcut
At this point, you will have a nice Anaconda setup that's spiffy and new and totally useless with ArcMap.
2) Configure Anaconda To Work with ArcGIS
The following workflow will demonstrate how set up a custom Python environment within Anaconda that is similar to that of ArcGIS Python, and then add a compatible version pandas module. Pandas is great for a whole variety of data processing tasks (just google "python pandas"). If you get this far, you can adapt this workflow to include any other modules you may want.
The following example is for ArcGIS 10.2.2.
A. Find the versions of numpy and matplotlib ArcGIS is using.
The critical modules for ArcGIS compatibility can be determined from your version of ArcGIS from the command line.
(Or you can just look at the list below under B.)
C:\Users\jwpowell> C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.2\python.exe -c ^
"import sys, numpy, matplotlib;print(sys.version, numpy.__version__, matplotlib.__version__)"
('2.7.5 (default, May 15 2013, 22:43:36) [MSC v.1500 32 bit (Intel)]', '1.7.1', '1.3.0')
B. Create an Anaconda environment for use with ArcGIS
We'll also include a few other modules that we know are shipped in the ArcGIS Python stack.
- Get to the Anaconda Command Prompt (Start > Search > Anaconda, pick each of your Anaconda startup shortcuts)
- Type (depending on Arc version):
ArcGIS 10.2.2: "conda create -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 numpy=1.7.1 matplotlib=1.3.0 pyparsing xlrd xlwt"
ArcGIS 10.3.1: "conda create -n arc1031 python=2.7.8 numpy=1.7.1 matplotlib=1.3.0 pyparsing xlrd xlwt"
ArcGIS 10.4.1: "conda create -n arc1041 python=2.7.10 numpy=1.9.2 matplotlib=1.4.3 pandas=0.17.0 scipy=0.16.0 pyparsing xlrd xlwt"
ArcGIS Pro 1.2 (x64 only!): "conda create -n arcpro12 python=3.4.3 numpy=1.9.3 matplotlib=1.4.3 pandas=0.17.0 scipy=0.16.0 pyparsing xlrd xlwt"
(ArcGIS 10.4.1 and ArcGIS Pro 1.2 and later already include pandas and scipy in the arcgis stack)
- The conda tool will:
- Determine that the specified package versions are compatible with each other.
- Find any packages on which these depend and determine most recent versions that are compatible with what you've asked for, if not completely specified.
- Show you what it plans to do and prompts you to continue.
- Download (only) the packages you need to "overlay" onto the base environment to get the environment you have specified.
- Set up a environment subdirectory, (C:\Anaconda\envs\arc1022) installing the downloaded packages into it.
C. Test the virtual environment
Since this new custom environment is not the Anaconda default, you need to let it know that's what you want to use. Then, you'll ask it to tell you what's installed.
Open an Anaconda command window and load the virtual environment
C:\Users\cprice> conda info --envs
# conda environments:
root * D:\Users\cprice\Anaconda32
Activating environment "arc1022"...
[arc1022] D:\Users\cprice> conda list
# packages in environment at D:\Users\cprice\Anaconda32\envs\arc1022:
dateutil 2.4.1 py27_0
matplotlib 1.3.0 np17py27_0
numpy 1.7.1 py27_3
pip 8.1.1 py27_1
pyparsing 1.5.6 py27_0
pyside 1.2.1 py27_0
python 2.7.5 2
python-dateutil 2.4.1 <pip>
pytz 2016.4 py27_0
setuptools 21.2.1 py27_0
six 1.10.0 py27_0
wheel 0.29.0 py27_0
xlrd 0.9.4 py27_0
xlwt 1.0.0 py27_0
D. Add more packages
You can add more packages using conda install, but make sure you specify version numbers for these that won't change the environment's version of python or numpy (or ArcGIS will not be able to use that environment anymore).
Let's add the pandas module.
Specifying python, numpy, and matplotlib versions makes sure the environment will still work with ArcGIS, and Anaconda determines the most recent compatible version of pandas (in our case, 0.13.0).
conda install -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 matplotlib=1.3.0 numpy=1.7.1 pandas
The following NEW packages will be INSTALLED:
pandas: 0.13.0-np17py27_0 ### this version works with python 2.7 and numpy 1.7
A few of the most popular things to add to your environment is interactive python ("ipython"), in several flavors:
conda install -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 matplotlib=1.3.0 numpy=1.7.1 ipython ipython-notebook ipython-qtconsole
Here is another example, that installs both pandas and spyder, which includes a whole host of tools (including iPython and iPython notebook).
conda install -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 matplotlib=1.3.0 numpy=1.7.1 pandas spyder
You can search for more packages available in conda with conda search.
You're not limited to adding only packages to which conda has access to your new environment. Here's an example on how to install a commonly desired GIS-related package (shapely) into a conda virtual environment using the python pip utility:
3) Configure ArcGIS to see Anaconda and vice versa
This can most easily be done (personal opinion) with a Python startup script
- Install Anaconda, setup environment to match your ArcGIS version
- Download and edit the installation paths in this script (usercustomize.py.txt) to match your setup
- IMPORTANT - Debug this script by running it from python.exe for each of your environments, for example:
> C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.2\python.exe usercustomize.py
> C:\Anaconda32\envs\myenv\python.exe usercustomize.py
- Place the script in the Python user site packages folder (with the name usercustomize.py)
The user site-packages folder path can be found with:
python -m site --user-site
Usually it is:
Testing and Troubleshooting
- Start ArcMap, open the Python window
- import pandas (or other module you've added to your Anaconda / ArcGIS virtual environment)
- print ("\n".join(sys.path)) -- you should see the Anaconda site-packages near the end of the list
- Start Anaconda command prompt, activate your ArcGIS environment
- import arcpy
- print ("\n".join(sys.path)) -- you should see the arcpy site-packages in the list
If you get an error message when you try to import, a common cause is version incompatibilities between Esri's python environment modules and the conda modules. (Condo takes care of compatibility across its environment, but it can't know about versions Esri uses in their python install.) In the pandas example, version 0.10.1 also appears to use the same 1.6.1 version of numpy used by ArcGIS 10.1.x, but some errors occur when trying to import pandas due to some other incompatibility. The solution was to modify the Anaconda environment to use an older version of pandas (0.10.0). The other critical packages are included to avoid having Anaconda install some other incompatible packages.
- Open Anaconda Command Prompt (via the Start menu on Windows, e.g.)
conda install -n arc101 python=2.7.5 matplotlib=1.3.0 numpy=1.6.1
Special instructions: Jupyter notebook
- Jupyter notebook is a really great way interact with Python.
- We have had problems getting this to work. Many thanks to Parker Norton who figured out this workaround manipulates Anaconda server lookups.
- The instructions below are for 10.2.2, note the specified python, matplotlib, and numpy versions.
:: Anaconda environment name and versions required for Arc
set AEVERS=python=2.7.5 matplotlib=1.3.0 numpy=1.7.1
conda config --remove channels conda-forge -f
conda remove jupyter notebook ipykernel ipython ipython-notebook ipython-genutils ipwidgets jupyter_client jupyter_console jupyter_core jupyter-client jupyter-console jupyter-core widgetsnbextension matplotlib -n %AEENV% -y
conda install -c defaults %AEVERS% ipykernel ipython ipython-notebook ipywidgets jupyter jupyter_client jupyter_console jupyter_core notebook matplotlib -n %AEENV% -y
conda config --add channels conda-forge -f
conda install %AEVERS% requests xlrd -n %AEENV% -y
How to do a separate Python installation with ArcGIS? (GIS Stack Exchange)
Using ArcPy with Anaconda (PyMorton)