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Iteration vs Batch for Looping in Geoprocessing. Who is Most Effective?

· 3 min read
Iteration vs Batch for Looping in Geoprocessing. Who is Most Effective?

Geoprocessing is one of the most useful tools in GIS that contains a lot of spatial data processing such a modification, manipulation, conversion, transformation, etc. The workflow of geoprocessing itself using a input data to get processed by single tool or even though by multiple tools that can connected in 1 workflow.

Before compare the iteration and batch process each other, we need to know how the iteration and batch running and what's the impact for the entire workflow.

Figure 1. Iterators menu in Model Builder ArcGIS. Source : Data Processing

Iteration is automating process for looping the process over and over that mostly used for the repetitive task that required a bulk processing that have different data or setting. the automation process is the advantage of this tool because with this automation, we can perform the bulk processing with the single tool or single workflow in model builder.
For example, we can proceed single dissolve process to 1 Region (Indonesia) in a few seconds. But how if we want to break down the dissolving process for every Province in Indonesia? is there 34 Province in Indonesia? or how should we process if the scope of analysis has a breakdown to the District? Indonesia has 514 in a total of District and City. Should we process 1 by 1?
Iterator answer this question with several solutions that are shown in figure 1. at least there is 12 function that contains different uses for any case. we select the best scenario that we need in every workflow. Figure 2 shows that iterator can manipulate the process using the value, data (feature class/raster datasets), file storage, and even the workspaces.

Figure 2. The Iterator function. Source : Esri

Different from the Iterator, the Batch process offers bulk processing with the limitation of automation in setting for the data source or the batch parameters. Figure 3 shows that we can only select a single parameter for every batch process. Other than that, the data source that we are input in the batch process should be processed manually like shown in figure 4. However, this tools also very useful because we don't need to set up the model builder if we need to do the process quickly.

Figure 3. Example of Batch process in ArcGIS Pro. Source: Data Processing

Based on the advantages of the tools, we can separate two diagrams that show the workflow of those tools like in figure 4. if we use batch, we probably need to decide want to use the bulk processing for input data or the processing tools and still need to input manually and if we use the iterator, we can use the folder location that can access all of the feature class inside the folder or the others function that quite more efficient but need some setting in the model builder.

The conclusion of this discussion either Batch or Iteration has an advantage in every sector and the job for the operator to decide what is the best option that we need to use in our workflow that is suitable to our cases.

Figure 5. Simple Workflow of Batch vs Iterator. Source: Data Processing 

Written by : Dzimar Akbarur Rokhim Prakoso, 2021.
Source :
1. ESRI, 2021. A Quick Tour of Using Iterator. https://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/analyze/modelbuilder/a-quick-tour-of-using-iterators-for-iteration-looping-.htm. Accessed in 29 December 2021.

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