An overview and definition of geodatabase properties

During the design phase 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 how the building blocks of the geodatabase are defined. These fundamental building blocks are 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.

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 select the default or specify a particular spatial index. The geodatabase uses a system of grids to create this spatial index. When performing such tasks as panning, zooming, or selecting features in ArcMap, the spatial index is used to quickly locate features.

The geodatabase uses the spatial index 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 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 tell the geodatabase where or in what format to store data contents in each dataset.

The geodatabase uses configuration keywords to optimize the storage parameters of your data.

These fundamental properties of the geodatabase help organize and increase the efficiency of managing and working with your data.