Metrics that quantitatively measure the various aspects of a feature's shape have applications in fields ranging from landscape ecology to geography. Hundreds of metrcis exist for measuring characteristics of shapes but the relevance of these metrics to a particular analysis is often unclear.
The Shape Metrics Tool calculates more than a dozen metrics that quantify specific characteristics of a patch's shape. Descriptions of these metrics as well as a rationale for their use can be found in the Shape Metrics PowerPoint. The appropriate metric to use depends on what the patch represents and on the issue being studied - the selected metric(s) should make logical sense for the analysis.
The tool is a Python script that runs out of ArcToolbox in ArcGIS 9.3. No extensions are required. The tool requires a polygon feature class as the input.