Skip To Content

Use geoprocessing services with custom geographic transformation


There are hundreds of geographic coordinate systems that can be used within ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server. When transforming between two different coordinate systems, you might require a custom coordinate system file, one which is not part of the core ArcGIS system. The following steps explain how you can use your custom geographic transformation file (.gtf) with geoprocessing tasks on ArcGIS for Server.

Creating a custom geographic transformation file

A custom geographic transformation file is created using the Create Custom Geographic Transformation tool. This .gtf file is created in one of two folders, depending on your user account's write permissions.

  • On Windows, the file is typically saved to C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.X\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations. This path is directly accessible by entering %appdata%\ESRI\Desktop10.X\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations in Windows Explorer. (Make sure to update the X in the path to match with your version of ArcGIS for Desktop.)
  • If you do not have write permission to the above path (it has been set to read-only), the file will be created in your user account's temp folder. This can be accessed by entering %temp%\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations in Windows Explorer.
  • On a Unix system, the .gtf will be saved in the user's home directory within ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations, either in the Application Data folder or the tmp folder, again, depending on your write permissions.

See the usage notes of the Create Custom Geographic Transformation tool for more detailed information on where this file is saved.

Considerations for installing the .gtf file

The .gtf file must be copied to the appropriate directory on all ArcGIS for Server machines within your cluster. If your server does not participate in a multimachine cluster, the file only needs to be deployed to the single machine. Use the appropriate steps below that best describe your environment to deploy the .gtf file.

Single ArcGIS Server machine

Use one of the following two workflows for deploying the .gtf file. The first option is the easiest and most straightforward if you do not have direct access to your server machine. The second option of manually copying files may require the assistance of your network administrator if you do not have access to your ArcGIS for Server machine .

Publish the Create Custom Geographic Transformation tool as a service. Executing the published service will create and deploy the file to the proper directory for you.

  1. In ArcGIS for Desktop, execute Create Custom Geographic Transformation to create a .gtf file. Even if you already have a preexisting .gtf file, you still need to run this step so you have a result that can be published as a geoprocessing service.
  2. Publish the result from step 1 as a geoprocessing service. You can hard code the input parameters or leave them as configurable parameters.
  3. Run the newly published geoprocessing task. Do not modify any of the input parameters. They will be set with the same default values as when you originally ran the tool from ArcMap. When you run the geoprocessing service, the .gtf file will be written to the %appdata%\Roaming\ESRI\Server10.x\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations folder of the server's user account.
  4. You can delete the service after running it once. Subsequent geoprocessing tasks will now have access to the .gtf file you created.

Manually copy the .gtf to the server machine from your local machine.

  1. Find the .gtf on your local machine. See the above section about creating a custom geographic transformation file which explains the possible locations this file might be saved. Typically, on Windows, this would be C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.X\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations.
  2. On the server machine, find the ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations folder for the user account running the ArcGIS for Server service. Typically, on Windows, this would be C:\Users\<ArcGIS Server Account Name>.<Server Name>\Appdata\Roaming\ESRI\Server10.X\ArcToolbox\CustomTransformations. On a Unix system, this path would typically be /<AGS_InstallDir>/framework/runtime/.wine/drive_c/users/<AGS_InstallAccount>/Application Data/ESRI/Server10.X/ArcToolbox/CustomTransformations.
  3. Copy the file from the location in step 1 to the location in step 2.

Multiple ArcGIS Server machines

In a multiple-machine environment, you cannot use the method of publishing the actual Create Custom Geographic Transformation tool as a geoprocessing service and running it to produce the .gtf file. Every machine that participates in your server cluster must have the file deployed and accessible. You cannot control which ArcGIS Server machine will process a task request, thus you cannot be certain each machine will run the task at least once to produce the file. Perform steps 1 to 3 in the above section for all machines that participate in your cluster.