I'm newbie in geography. I have a number of x-y coordinates in a text file. I want to compute the shortest path going through these points in ArcGIS. I can load my data points in ArcGIS, but network analyst options are disabled. Would you please help me how to do the computation?
You would need to use Network Analyst extension. It is a separate extension you would need to buy, it can be installed with the ArcGIS for Desktop installation, but to use it you need to buy a license.
- Enable extension in ArcMap.
- Obtain / prepare network dataset.
- Use Route layer with Reorder Stops To Find Optimal Route option.
By default, a route traverses stops in the order you define. However, you can possibly shorten the route further by letting Network Analyst find the best order. It will account for a variety of variables, such as time windows. Another option is to preserve the origin and destination while allowing Network Analyst to reorder the intermediary stops.
When you check this property, the route analysis changes from a shortest-path problem to a traveling salesperson problem (TSP).