Skip To Content

Generate Tessellations (Map Viewer)

The Generate Tessellations tool creates a grid of cells with an area and shape that cover a specified extent.

The output is a hosted feature layer.


Example uses of this tool include the following:

  • An archeologist discovers an ancient burial ground with many valuable artifacts. To index and record each artifact, the archeologist can create a grid of tessellated features that cover the entire study area.
  • While planning a reforestation project, foresters may need to divide the study area into bins or regularly shaped areas. They can then assess the area and determine the number of seedlings and resources they need to efficiently reforest the region.

Usage notes

Generate Tessellations includes configurations for the tessellation settings, extent settings, and result layer.

Tessellation settings

The Tessellation settings group includes the following parameters:

  • Bin shape type specifies the shape of the bins in the tessellation. The Bin shape type parameter options are Square, Hexagon, Triangle, Diamond, Transverse hexagon, and H3 hexagon. The H3 hexagon option requires an H3 bin resolution value to specify the size, all other options require a Bin size measurement value.

    For the hexagon bin shape, the top and bottom sides of the hexagon are parallel to the x-axis of the coordinate system. For the transverse hexagon bin shape, the right and left sides of the hexagon are parallel to the y-axis of the coordinate system.
  • Bin size measurement specifies how the size of the bin will be defined. The Bin size measurement parameter options are the following:
    • Area—The size of the bin will be defined by its area.
    • Distance—The size of the bin will be defined by the distance between two vertices of the specified Bin shape type value.
      Distance measurements for each shape type
  • Bin size is a numeric value that defines the size of the bins in the tessellation.
  • Bin size units specifies the units of the Bin size value. If Distance is selected as the Bin size measurement value, the units can be miles, nautical miles, yards, feet, kilometers, or meters. If Area is selected as the Bin size measurement value, the units can be square miles, acres, square yards, square feet, square inches, hectares, square kilometers, or square meters.
  • H3 bin resolution specifies the resolution for H3 hexagon bins. Supported resolutions are numbers between 0 and 15. The resolution sizes are defined by the H3 hexagonal hierarchical geospatial indexing system.

Extent settings

The Extent settings group includes the following parameters:

  • Extent layer is the extent of the tessellation grid. You can choose a layer using the Layer button or use the Draw input features button to create a sketch layer to use as the input. The extent will be defined by the full extent of the chosen layer, rather than by individual features.

    A count of features is displayed below the layer name. The count includes all features in the layer, except features that have been removed using a filter. Environment settings, such as Processing extent, are not reflected in the feature count.
  • Only keep intersecting tessellations specifies whether the tessellations will cover the entire extent of the extent layer or only cover the areas where the tessellations intersect with features in the extent layer. If unchecked (default), all generated bins will be returned. If checked, only bins that intersect features from the extent layer will be returned.

    Only keep intersecting tessellations parameter
    The difference in result layers is shown when all tessellations are returned (first image) or only intersecting tessellations are returned (second image).

Result layer

The Result layer group includes the following parameters:

  • Output name determines the name of the layer that is created and added to the map. The name must be unique. If a layer with the same name already exists in your organization, the tool will fail and you will be prompted to use a different name.
  • Save in folder specifies the name of a folder in My content where the result will be saved.


Analysis environment settings are additional parameters that affect a tool's results. You can access the tool's analysis environment settings from the Environment settings parameter group.

This tool honors the following analysis environments:

  • Output coordinate system
  • Processing extent

    The default processing extent in Map Viewer is Full extent. This default is different from Map Viewer Classic in which Use current map extent is enabled by default.


The tool outputs a layer in which the specified extent contains a grid of cells with the selected shape and size. The polygon layer will include a GRID_ID field, with the following values:

  • For H3 hexagon bin types, the GRID_ID values will be a unique hierarchical index for each cell.
    Example of GRID_ID results from H3 hexagon tessellations
  • For all other bin types, the GRID_ID field will be a unique ID for each feature. The format for the ID field is A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, and so on, where each row is represented by a number, and each column by a letter.
    Example of GRID_ID results from hexagon tessellations

Licensing requirements

This tool requires the following licensing and configurations:

  • Creator or GIS Professional user type
  • Publisher or Administrator role, or an equivalent custom role


Use the following resources to learn more: