The challenge here is getting the ESRI-provided version of Python and associated module s to work with non-ESRI provided modules that you gain via Anaconda. Generally speaking, when you download and install Anaconda, you will get newer versions of Python-related material (including standard modules like numpy) than what is in your ArcGIS "Python Stack," which will not work. You therefore must configure Anaconda to be compatible with the version of ArcGIS "Python stack" (10.1, 10.2, 10.3, Pro) that you have installed.  The instructions here describe how to install older versions of modules into Anaconda that will work with ArcGIS. 

 

Related topic: Calling arcpy from an external virtual Python environment

 

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:

Workflow

The general workflow to make this happen is to:

1) Install Anaconda (Single-User - no admin access needed)

  1. Go to http://continuum.io/downloads
  2. Download the 32-bit (x86) version of Anaconda (ArcMap [32-bit] can only directly work with 32-bit Python)
  3. In the install dialogs:
    1. Select install for a single user (Not "All Users")
    2. Install to a folder where there is going to be plenty of space (recommend the D drive, not the C drive)
    3. IMPORTANT: To avoid breaking ArcGIS, uncheck the checkboxes  (a) make Anaconda the default Python and (b) add Anaconda's Python to the PATH. 
    4. Here are screenshots to help guide you through the install process.

At this point, you will have full Anaconda version of the python environment that's spiffy and new and totally useless with ArcMap. 

2) Configure Anaconda

The following workflow will demonstrate how set up an Anaconda virtual environment similar to ArcGIS, with the "pandas" module added. 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 other modules you may want.

The following example is for ArcGIS 10.2.2.

A. Find the versions of numpy and matplotlib Arc is using.

Open ArcMap and its Python window, and enter these commands:

>>> 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 virtual environment (including pandas) that is compatible with ArcGIS 10.2.2.

Rather than modifying the basic Anaconda installation, you can create a custom environment within Anaconda and specify the version of Pandas you want there. To do this:

  1. Get to the Anaconda Command Prompt (Start > Search > Anaconda, pick "Anaconda Command Prompt")
  2. Type "conda create -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 numpy=1.7.1 matplotlib=1.3.0 xlrd=0.9.2 xlwt=0.7.5 pyparsing=1.5 pandas"
    or, better yet, use this file (conda_arc1022.txt) that has a more complete list (version for use with x64 Anaconda: arc1022x64.txt)
    "conda create --file conda_arc1022.txt" 
  3. Anaconda's conda command will then:

C. Test the virtual environment

D:\Users\cprice>activate arc1022
Activating environment "arc1022"...
[arc1022] D:\Users\cprice>conda list
# packages in environment at D:\Users\cprice\Anaconda\envs\arc1022:
#
dateutil 2.4.1 py27_0
matplotlib 1.3.0
np17py27_0numpy 1.7.1 py27_3
pandas 0.13.0 np17py27_0
...
[arc1022] D:\Users\cprice>python
Python 2.7.5 |Continuum Analytics, Inc.| (default, Jul 1 2013, 12:41:55) [MSC v.1500 32 bit (Intel)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>>

D. More packages

You can add more packages using conda install, but make sure you specify dependencies so you won't change your python or numpy versions. For example, if we didn't add pandas in the beginning, we could add it using this command. Specifying python and numpy versions makes sure we get a compatible version that won't break arcpy/ArcGIS.

conda install -n arc1022 python=2.7.5 numpy=1.7.1 pandas

You're not limited to what conda has, now that you have a virtual environment you can use it to install packages that are not available through conda install. However, it's up to you to make sure the package you install is compatible with your environment. Here's an example on how to install a commonly desired GIS-re-ated module (shapely) into a conda virtual environment using the python pip utility:

http://deparkes.co.uk/2015/01/29/install-shapely-on-anaconda/

3) Configure ArcGIS to see Anaconda and vice versa

This can easily be done with this Python startup script: usercustomize.py.txt

 

  1. Install Anaconda, setup environment to match your ArcGIS version
  2. Edit the paths in the script
  3. Put the script in the Python startup folder (must be named usercustomize.py)
    The startup folder can be found with: "python -m site --user-site".
    This is usually:  C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Python\Python27\site-packages 

 

Testing and Troubleshooting

  1. Start ArcMap, open the Python window
  2. type "import pandas"
  3. type pandas.
    1. A popup menu with a list of pandas-provided functions is a pretty good sign the install succeeded.

If you get an error message when you try to import, the most common cause I've seen is that the version of the module is still too new. In the pandas example, version 0.10.1 also appears to use the same 1.6.1 version of numpy but for some mysterious ESRI-specific reason that we could not get support to solve or really talk about, pandas 0.10.1 does not work. The solution was to modify the Anaconda "esri" environment to hold 0.10.0 pandas and all worked. To do change this:

  1. Get to the Anaconda Command Prompt (via the Start menu on Windows, e.g.)
  2. Type "conda install -n esri pandas=0.10.0"

References

 

How to do a separate Python installation with ArcGIS? (GIS Stack Exchange)

Using ArcPy with Anaconda (PyMorton)