Introduction to geodatabase data properties

During the design of your geodatabase, you determined the type of data you were going to store in the geodatabase, how you would store it, and how it would be used and maintained. Now you must translate this design into a physical implementation in the geodatabase.

To do this, you must understand the basic building blocks of the geodatabase and what properties can be defined on them. These building blocks and their fundamental properties of the geodatabase help organize and increase the efficiency of managing and working with your data. They include the following:


Tables are the basic storage objects in the database. Tables are composed of columns and rows. In these, tables can store descriptive attributes as well as spatial attributes. Tables that contain spatial attributes are called feature classes.

The geodatabase uses tables to store and manage the attributes and properties of geographic objects.

Spatial indexes

When a feature class is created, you either use the default or specify a particular spatial index. When performing such tasks as panning, zooming, or selecting features in the map, the spatial index is used to quickly locate features.

The geodatabase uses the spatial index defined on the feature class to increase the efficiency of spatial searches on your data.

Spatial reference

The spatial reference describes where features are located in the real world. You define a spatial reference when creating a geodatabase feature dataset or stand-alone feature class. The spatial reference includes a coordinate system for x-, y-, and z-values as well as tolerance and resolution values for x-, y-, z-, and m-values.

The geodatabase uses the spatial reference assigned to the data to accurately display a feature's location and carry out geoprocessing functions.

Configuration keywords

Configuration keywords specify how data is stored in the geodatabase. Configuration keywords represent a setting or group of settings that tells the geodatabase where or in what format to store data contents in each dataset.

The geodatabase uses the configuration keywords you choose when data is created to optimize the storage parameters of your data.