Configuration keywords


Configuration keywords and parameters are largely legacy functionality. They were implemented when databases required far more intervention and tinkering on the part of the database administrator to get them to perform well. For the most part, you will not need to alter the configuration keywords in your geodatabase.

When you create an enterprise geodatabase, it is populated with default configuration keywords and parameters. In the majority of cases, the parameters set for the DEFAULTS keyword when you create the geodatabase are sufficient. Possible exceptions include the following:

  • If the data creators in your organization need to create a few feature classes that use a spatial storage type that is different than the default type, you may need to create a custom keyword, include the GEOMETRY_STORAGE parameter set to the spatial type the users need, and include the UI_TEXT parameter to make your custom keyword available to data creators.
  • If data creators in your organization need to create a few tables or feature classes that will store large amounts of single-byte text in a single field, and they don't require storage of multibyte characters, you can create a custom keyword, include the UNICODE_STRING parameter set to FALSE (which means text fields in tables and feature classes created using this keyword will use varchar2 storage), and include the UI_TEXT parameter to make your custom keyword available to data creators.

Configuration keywords provide a way to define multiple storage settings at once. One configuration keyword groups together multiple parameters and values, which specify how data and database objects are stored in the geodatabase.

You specify a configuration keyword when you do one of the following:

  • Load or create datasets using ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, or geoprocessing tools.
  • Migrate storage types.
  • Build geodatabase features such as terrains or topologies.

ArcGIS uses the specified configuration keyword to look up the parameter name–value pairs associated with it. The values contain the configuration strings, which are incorporated in the CREATE TABLE or CREATE INDEX statement ArcGIS submits to the database.


Standard parameter names and values must be used; however, most parameters have multiple valid values you can specify.

The next section describes the keywords that are present by default when you create an enterprise geodatabase. You can alter values for existing parameters for these keywords or, if the default keywords do not meet your needs, create custom keywords.

Default configuration keywords

The DEFAULTS, LOGFILE_DEFAULTS, and composite configuration keywords are present by default in all database management system implementations of an enterprise geodatabase. These are described in the following sections:


As the name indicates, the settings under the DEFAULTS configuration keyword are used by default when you create tables, feature classes, raster datasets, and indexes. If you do not specify a different keyword when data is created in the geodatabase, or if you specify a keyword that is missing some necessary parameters, values from the DEFAULTS keyword are used. The DBTUNE table has a fully populated DEFAULTS configuration keyword upon geodatabase creation.

When you alter the DEFAULTS keyword parameter group, populate it with values that represent the most common storage configuration of your data. Doing so relieves you of the need to define all the parameters for each of the keywords you define. For example, if you create a configuration keyword to create tables in a storage space segregated from the rest of the data, you only need to add the parameters that specify the tables' storage location. The rest of the parameters, such as the geometry storage type, can be picked up from the DEFAULTS keyword parameter group.

Populating the DEFAULTS keyword with the most commonly used values for your particular site also makes it easier for the people in your organization who create data. If the DEFAULTS keyword contains the settings they need for 95 percent of the data, they only have to worry about selecting a different keyword for the remaining 5 percent.

The configuration parameters initially present in the DEFAULTS keyword parameter group vary by database management system.


The LOGFILE_DEFAULTS keyword is present but no longer used in geodatabases in PostgreSQL, and Oracle.

Composite configuration keywords

The composite keyword is a unique type of keyword used when you want to store tables from the same terrain or topology class in separate spaces. You would do this, for instance, if one table is much more active than the others or if one table in the class is much larger than the others.

Composite configuration keywords are subdivided into elements: the parent element, which does not have a suffix, and the composite keyword elements, which are demarcated by the addition of the ::<element name> suffix to the parent element’s configuration keyword.

You can create composite keywords of your own, but the ones present by default are the NETWORK_DEFAULTS, TOPOLOGY_DEFAULTS, and TERRAIN_DEFAULTS composite keywords.

Network composite keywords

Though present in all enterprise geodatabases, the NETWORK_DEFAULTS keyword is not used by any dataset you can create in ArcGIS Pro.

Topology composite keywords

The topology composite keyword controls the storage of topology tables. Your geodatabase must have a valid topology keyword in the DBTUNE table for topology to be built. The topology composite keyword consists of the parent element, TOPOLOGY_DEFAULTS, and TOPOLOGY_DEFAULTS::DIRTYAREAS, which indicates where the DIRTYAREAS topology table will be stored. The DIRTYAREAS table can grow quite large and is very active in versioned geodatabases. Therefore, if your geodatabase uses topology and a lot of versioned editing takes place on the data, you should alter the parameter values of TOPOLOGY_DEFAULTS::DIRTYAREAS to store the DIRTYAREAS table components in a separate storage location; by default, they have the same storage settings as the topology table.

Be aware that datasets that participate in the same topology should use the same geometry storage type; if they do not, you may experience some topology errors due to slight variations in the way the data is stored. These variations are extremely small in most cases but could cause a violation of one or more of your topology rules.

For an introduction to geodatabase topology, see Topology basics.

Terrain composite keywords

The terrain composite keyword controls the storage of the following tables created for terrain datasets:

  • DTM_<itemID>_MRFC
  • DTM_<itemID>_PROPS
  • DTM_<itemID>_EMBED_<N>

ItemID is the value in the UUID field of the GDB_ITEMS table for the particular terrain dataset. N indicates the specific DTM_<itemID>_EMBED table; there can be any number (0...n) of these tables.

The default terrain keywords are TERRAIN_DEFAULTS, which controls the default storage of the first four tables listed above, and TERRAIN_DEFAULTS::EMBEDDED, which controls the storage of the DTM_<itemID>_EMBED_<N> table.

DTM_<itemID>_EMBED_<N> tables store embedded feature classes. For this reason, they could be much larger than the other terrain tables; therefore, you might want to alter the storage parameters of the TERRAIN_DEFAULTS::EMBEDDED keyword to store these tables in a different place or in a different-sized extent, depending on the DBMS you use to store your geodatabase.


Terrains can only be created if you have the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension installed and active.

Custom configuration keywords

You might add custom keywords in the following situations:

Follow these steps to add a custom configuration keyword to your enterprise geodatabase:

  1. Connect to the geodatabase as the geodatabase administrator.
  2. Run the Export Geodatabase Configuration Keyword tool to export the existing configuration keyword values to a text file.
  3. Add the configuration keyword, parameters, and values you require.

    Be aware of the following when adding a custom keyword:

    • You must prefix the keyword with two pound signs (##).
    • Configuration keyword names are limited to 32 characters. If you create archiving keywords, _ARCHIVE must be part of the keyword name and counts toward those 32 characters.
    • You must close the parameter group with END.

  4. To allow people to specify the keyword from ArcGIS, add the appropriate UI storage parameter to the keyword's parameter list. Use only one of the following in the same custom configuration keyword group:
    • UI_TEXT: General user interface storage parameter; to be used with any keyword you want to make available to users other than log file, archiving, or network, topology, or terrain composite keywords
    • UI_TOPOLOGY_TEXT: User interface storage parameter for a parent topology keyword
    • UI_TERRAIN_TEXT: User interface storage parameter for a parent terrain keyword
  5. Save the changes you made in the text file.
  6. Run the Import Geodatabase Configuration Keyword tool to import the values from the text file.

Configuration keywords for archiving

You can specify configuration keywords for history tables. This is done by appending _ARCHIVE to the end of a keyword, for example, DEFAULTS_ARCHIVE. For each archive keyword you create, change the parameters as needed.

The most common use of an archive keyword is to store your history tables and the indexes on those tables in a different location than the rest of your data. Geodatabases stored in Oracle, Db2, or PostgreSQL allow you to store tables in different tablespaces; therefore, it is in these geodatabases that you would most likely use archive keywords.

When a history table is created, ArcGIS records the configuration keyword for the dataset that is being archived and searches for corresponding archive keywords. It uses the parameters specified for <keyword>_ARCHIVE when creating the history table. Therefore, if the DEFAULTS keyword is used to create a dataset that is enabled for archiving, ArcGIS will search for DEFAULTS_ARCHIVE for storage information to create the history tables for that dataset.

For any given keyword, if the corresponding archive keyword is not found, ArcGIS uses the same keyword as was used for the original dataset. In the example above, it will use the DEFAULTS keyword, which means the history tables and indexes will be stored in the same logical storage spaces as the feature class that was enabled for archiving.

If the <keyword>_ARCHIVE is present but missing a given parameter, the value of the parameter found in the DEFAULTS keyword will be used. See What is archiving for more information on geodatabase archiving.


If you create an archive keyword, there is no need to include a UI_TEXT parameter. You would not specify the *_ARCHIVE keyword when the data is created; rather, ArcGIS searches for the keyword that matches the archiving table's configuration keyword.