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Raster datasets as attributes

Release 9.2
Last modified September 22, 2008
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About attributes of type raster

A feature class can have many fields or attributes. There are many valid data types that a field can possess, including text, integer, date, floating point, and even raster. Unlike a hyperlink that simply links a feature’s field to an image, a field of type raster can actually store the raster data within or alongside the geodatabase. For example, you could add a photograph of the commercial property as an attribute of this parcel feature.

Attributes dialog box displaying the null vaule of the Raster property

To update attributes of type raster, you need to have a feature class that contains a raster field. You can add a field of type raster in ArcMap or ArcCatalog. To add a field of type raster in ArcMap, open the attribute table and add a new field to the table. On the Add Field dialog box, choose Raster from the Type drop-down list.

Learn more about adding fields to tables
Learn more about editing on the Attributes dialog box

Tasks with raster attributes

Creating raster attributes in ArcCatalog

  1. Click a feature class within a geodatabase.
  2. Click the Preview tab.
  3. Click the Preview drop-down arrow and click Table.
  4. Click the Options button and click Add field.
  5. Type a name for the new field of type raster.
  6. Click the Type drop-down arrow and click Raster.
  7. Edit any of the properties that may need editing.
  8. Click OK.


  • Only one field of type raster may be used on each feature class or table. Use a different table with a related field to associate more than one raster dataset with each feature.
  • Creating fields of type raster in an ArcSDE geodatabase requires an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license.

Updating attributes of type raster

  1. Add the feature class that has a raster field that needs to be updated into ArcMap.
  2. Click the Editor toolbar button to show the Editor toolbar.
  3. Click Editor and click Start Editing.
  4. Click the Target drop-down arrow and click the appropriate layer.
  5. Click the Edit tool Edit tool.
  6. Select the feature that needs its raster attribute updated.
  7. Click the Attributes button Attributes button on the Editor toolbar to show the attributes for the selected feature.
  8. Click the value for the raster property (the value will either be <Null> or Raster) to select it.
  9. Click the Show Raster button (the small square to the right of the value for the raster property).
  10. Right-click in the new window and click Load.
  11. Navigate to the location of the updated raster dataset.
  12. Click the updated raster dataset.
  13. Click Add.
  14. Close the Attributes dialog box.
  15. Click Editor and click Stop Editing.


  • Only appropriate raster imagery should be added as an attribute to a feature class. All valid raster formats are available, but it is highly recommended that only small pictures be used for this field.
  • Updating fields of type raster in an ArcSDE geodatabase requires an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license.

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