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Geodatabase XML

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Last modified November 9, 2006
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Geodatabase XML represents ESRI's open mechanism for information interchange between geodatabases and other external systems. ESRI openly publishes and maintains the complete geodatabase schema and content as an XML specification and provides example implementations to illustrate how users can share data updates between heterogeneous systems.

XML interchange of geospatial information to and from the geodatabase is greatly simplified using the geodatabase XML specification. External applications can receive XML data streams including:

Geodatabase XML is the primary interchange mechanism for data sharing among ArcGIS users as well as external users.

For an example of using geodatabase XML workspaces to copy geodatabases, see Copying a geodatabase using geodatabase XML workspaces.

To access a white paper on the Geodatabase XML Schema, see XML Schema of the Geodatabase.

There are three types of XML documents that can be created in ArcGIS: a Workspace document, a RecordSet document, and a Data Changes document.

The geodatabase XML workspace document

XML workspace documents hold all of the contents of a geodatabase or any subset of the content. XML workspace documents include all of the schema information and optionally the data as well.

XML workspace documents are used to share schema information, to exchange feature datasets and all of their contents, and to exchange datasets and all associated data elements that have relationships to a dataset selected for export.

The schema, relationship, and behavior information exported as part of the WorkspaceDefinition section includes all simple and custom features data, participation in networks and topologies, network connectivity and topology rules, simple and composite relationships, and any other information associated with the geodatabase datasets. Therefore, all behavior associated with the geodatabase is preserved and can be re-created when the XML document is imported.

The XML Workspace document contains two elements: WorkspaceDefinition and WorkspaceData.

Overview of an XML workspace document

Using the WorkspaceDefinition and WorkspaceData, workspace documents will contain the schema of a geodatabase and, optionally, data from its tables. Having the definition separated from the actual data offers a few benefits. A software agent can read only the definition section of the document to discover what it contains, and by making the data section optional, a workspace document can be used to transfer only schema information.

In the case of tables and feature classes, the name of the data element in the definition section corresponds to the name of the table data in the data section. Other datasets, such as topologies, geometric networks, or feature datasets, appear only in the definition section (no data is exported for them).

The geodatabase RecordSet document

The geodatabase RecordSet document is used to export the rows from a single feature class or table as simple features or attribute records.

Exporting to a RecordSet document is analogous to exporting to a shapefile. The rows are exported as records, and no additional geodatabase-related information is written to the output file.

For example, topologies and other feature dataset information will not be exported. Relationships to features in other tables will not be exported.

A geodatabase recordset document used to transfer simple features and attribute records

The geodatabase XML Data Changes document

As part of geodatabase transaction and version management, users want to share and work with change-only record sets. The XML Data Changes document is used to share changes or updates among geodatabases and between the geodatabase and external systems. It does this by only distributing changes that can be tracked in the geodatabase using versioning.

The ArcGIS disconnected editing framework allows you to check data out of a database into a separate geodatabase, then edit the data without having a live connection to the parent database. Once the editing is done, it is possible to export only the changes (not all the data) to an XML file. This file can be used to subsequently check in the changes to the parent database.

This is also a key part of geodatabase replication.

The primary information of a Data Changes document is an UpdateGram in which only changes are delivered as part of the XML document.

The elements contained in an XML Data Change document

Using geodatabase XML in ArcCatalog and Geoprocessing

ArcCatalog and the geoprocessing framework in ArcGIS contain a number of functions to import and export geographic data. Some typical tasks that users perform in ArcGIS with Geodatabase XML include:

For example, using ArcCatalog, you can right-click on a geodatabase or feature dataset and create an XML Workspace Document, which can be used to share a geodatabase schema or to copy the contents, rules, objects, and behaviors to another geodatabase.
Whole geodatabases or individual datasets can be transferred using geodatabase XML documents.

Using geoprocessing in ArcGIS, you can perform a number of operations to synchronize and share changes across geodatabases.

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