Introduction to Pathfinder

Pathfinder is a decision support system which implements a proven methodology to optimize the location and routing of infrastructure elements, taking into account spatial and cost constraints.

The Pathfinder methodology

The following diagram describes the typical steps followed with Pathfinder.


  1. In a first step, relevant spatial data, representing constraints for the routing, are identified and imported into the application. A project is created for a specific study area and it typically contains start and end points for the routing.

  2. Next, spatial data layers are assigned parameters representing their suitability for the infrastructure (e.g. power lines). These parameters are ring distances and resistance values and should take into account regulations, costs and other planning constraints.

    The ring distances define areas of influence around the original data layers, and are used to assign different resistance values depending on the distance.


    The resistance values define how suitable a layer area is for the location of the infrastructure (e.g. being crossed by powerlines and placing their pylons) and they usually have different values for each layer ring.

  3. Based on these scenarios, Pathfinder runs a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to calculate the resistance map for the entire planning area.

  4. The resistance map is the basis for Pathfinder to identify a corridor map and optimal paths within the planning area.

  5. The results can be evaluated quantitatively and visually on the map or 3D view, and exported to georeferenced files.


Using Pathfinder’s Web Application

The same Pathfinder account credentials used to access the ArcGIS addin can also be used to login into the Pathfinder web application. In fact, all the projects created from the ArcGIS addin can be accessed in this web application.

If you ArcGIS document is named “Area1”, then you can find the corresponding project in Pathfinder as “ArcGIS_Area1”:


Read the Pathfinder’s user manual if you want to use the web version of Pathfinder and take advantage of its advanced features.

Combining Pathfinder Web and ArcGIS Addin

Since Pathfinder projects can be created and modifed from both the Addin and from the Pathfinder Web application, it is important to keep in mind and apply rules that avoid inconsistencies and conflicts between both platforms.



Changes done to a Pathfinder project in the Addin or in the Web are not automatically propagated or synchronized to the other platform. This propagation/synchonization must be done manually.

Workflow 1: from Addin to Web

If you are primarily an ArcGIS user and the data you need for your Pathfinder analysis is already in an ArcGIS document, the most natural process for you is to create the Pathfinder project, setup the scenario and run the calculations from the Addin. Most of this user manual details the processes to work with this workflow.

The following image shows the typical steps and internal data flow when a project is created and modified from the Addin:


Note that, as mentioned, you can access the project from the Web application to use advanced analysis or reporting tools. You can also modify the project layers or scenarios, but this is not recommended. If you do so, you will be responsible to propagate these changes back to the Addin version, either manually or using the From Cloud tool.

Workflow 2: from Web to Addin

Starting with the 1.1 version of the Addin, it is also possible to copy to ArcGIS the project, data, scenarios and/or results created on the Web application. This may be useful when:

  • You have lost your ArcGIS document with the original Pathfinder project. In this case, the Pathfinder cloud works as a backup that you can use to recover your project in ArcGIS.

  • Someone made changes to the Pathfinder project in the Web application (added new layers or modified their buffers) and you need to apply those changes to your ArcGIS version.

  • To share with others a project you created. If other ArcGIS users in your company have a Pathfinder account with access to your project, they can use this functionality to create their own local copy. Then, they will be able to create their own scenarios and results.

The following image shows the typical steps which may be followed when you create a project on the Web and then copy it to the addin and perform some changes in it.


As mentioned, note that you are responsible to keep the consistency between changes done in the Addin and the Web, by you and by other users with access to the project.


Starting with version 1.2 of the addin, you can also add ArcGIS layers to a Pathfinder project in the cloud, without the need to download first the Pathfinder project to ArcGIS Pro.

Disclaimer: the scenarios depicted in this manual do not represent actual customer projects or infrastructure proposals, and are presented for demonstration purposes only.

For more help, please contact Gilytics.