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An overview of working with feature datasets

Release 9.2
Last modified April 9, 2008
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A feature dataset is a collection of related feature classes that share a common coordinate system. Feature datasets are used to spatially or thematically integrate related feature classes. Their primary purpose is for organizing related feature classes into a common dataset for building a topology, a network dataset, a terrain dataset, or a geometric network.

Using feature datasets
Use feature datasets to organize spatially related feature classes into a common dataset:
  • To Add a Topology
  • To Add a Network Dataset
  • To Add a Geometric Network
  • To Add a Terrain Dataset
Feature datasets hold a set of feature classes that participate in additional geodatabase capabilities.

There are additional situations in which users apply feature datasets in their geodatabases:

Specifying the coordinate system up front

Another design factor in organizing feature classes into common feature datasets is the requirement to use a spatial reference. Thus, it's useful to define your coordinate system requirements for each feature class prior to organizing feature classes into common feature datasets.

When creating a new feature dataset, you must define its spatial reference. This includes its coordinate system—either geographic or a specific projection—as well as coordinate units and tolerances for xy, z-, and m-values . All feature classes in the same feature dataset must share a common coordinate system, and xy coordinates of their features should fall within a common spatial extent.

See An overview of spatial references for information on defining the coordinate system and spatial reference.

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