Copying the geodatabase schema of an ArcGIS data model template

Over the past several years, ESRI and its user community have worked together to develop a set of best practices geodatabase designs for various application domains. For example, templates have been built for many disciplines: addresses, parcels, hydro, imagery, census and administrative units, homeland security, petroleum, local government, and dozens of additional application areas of GIS.

These geodatabase designs are intended to help users rapidly become productive with the geodatabase and to share what works in a practical setting among users and GIS developer communities. While these designs are focused on geodatabase implementations, they are founded on many standards efforts and are portable across GIS systems.

A special page on the ESRI support Web site,, provides access to all these designs. Most of the mature designs include geodatabase design templates. These templates are empty geodatabases that you can download to your own system and use in your GIS efforts.

Follow these steps to use a geodatabase design template.

  1. Connect to the data model Web site at
  2. Find the data model you are interested in (for example, Address) and click the Design Template link for that data model.
  3. Clicking on the Design Template link takes you to a download page for the data model.
  4. You are linked to a Web page that contains a number of downloads for each data model. These include Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams usable in Visio;design documents in PDF formats; and, for many of these designs, a geodatabase template held as either a file or personal geodatabase. A geodatabase template is an empty geodatabase to which you can add data with which you can work.
  5. Here is an example set of downloads at the data model Web page:

    The Address Data Model Template Downloads

    Find the geodatabase template you want to use and download its ZIP file to your computer.

  6. Once the ZIP file has been downloaded onto your computer, extract the geodatabase template onto your hard drive from the ZIP file.
  7. You can work with this empty geodatabase. For example, in ArcCatalog, you can select individual datasets, set their spatial reference, add features to the empty feature classes, add user-specific attribute columns, and so on, to customize the design for your own use.

    It is highly recommended that you test your design changes on a copy of your data using a personal or file geodatabase. Working with your proposed design will help you gain insight into what will work in your organization and what will best meet your needs.