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Creating and accessing geodatabases

Release 9.3
Last modified May 9, 2012
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To manage your own spatial database, you can create a file or personal geodatabase. A file geodatabase offers all the functionality of a geodatabase, but it is stored in a file structure, whereas, with a personal geodatabase your data will be stored in a Microsoft Access database. For a multiuser spatial database, use ArcSDE, which lets many people in an organization simultaneously update data stored in a centrally located RDBMS. SDE for Coverages lets you access coverage, ArcStorm, or ArcInfo Librarian databases just as you would an RDBMS.

Learn more about geodatabases.

You can access file and personal geodatabases directly in ArcCatalog, but to access data stored in an RDBMS, you must add a database connection. You can create either a spatial database connection or an OLE DB database connection. You'll be prompted for information, such as your user name, password, and the database to which you want to connect. For ArcSDE Personal and Workgroup geodatabases, you also have the option of creating a connection to the database server on which the geodatabase resides to access it. Note that to administer an ArcSDE Personal or Workgroup geodatabase, you must access it through a connection to the database server.

Learn more about connecting to an ArcSDE database server.

In general, when you create a database connection, you choose the data provider that will retrieve your data from the database. For multiuser spatial databases, ArcSDE is the data provider. OLE DB providers generally retrieve nonspatial data only. You can preview these tables in ArcCatalog and join their values to spatial data. If an OLE DB provider can retrieve spatial data and present it in OGC format, you can preview that data in ArcCatalog. Data accessed through an OLE DB connection is read-only in ArcGIS.

All persistent database connections are stored in the Database Connections folder by default, but they can be moved elsewhere. For example, you can place a connection that has read-only access to the database in a shared folder where others can access it; they can use it to view the database's contents in ArcCatalog without having to know the details of how to connect to the database.

The first time you attempt to access the contents of a database connection, ArcCatalog tries to connect to the database. If the connection attempt is successful, ArcCatalog will list the items contained in the database. When you see a small red x on the database connection's icon, it is disconnected; until you have reestablished the connection, you can't access data stored in the database.

Objects in an RDBMS are owned by the user who created them. When ArcCatalog lists the contents of an ArcSDE geodatabase, the owner's name appears before the object's name. For example, a feature class named valves that is owned by the user admin would appear in the Catalog as admin.valves. If the RDBMS supports multiple databases, such as SQL Server, the database name will appear before the owner's name, with the object's name appearing last. For example, if the valves feature class was stored in a database named city, it would appear in the Catalog as city.ownername.valves.

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