What's new for tables and attributes in ArcGIS 10

In ArcGIS 10, there is a new experience for working with attribute tables and a number of new features.

Table window

The Table window is the container that displays all your open attribute tables in ArcMap. All open attribute tables are tabbed within the Table window; simply click a tab to activate a specific table. The Table window also has a toolbar and several menus that allow you to interact with the attributes of the table and, in the case of spatial data, the map.

Using the Table window in ArcGIS

When working in the Selected view of the table, the toolbar at the top of the window expands to include commands for working with highlighted records.

Commands for working with highlighted records

Viewing Multiple Tables

When you open any attribute table in ArcMap, it is placed inside the Table window. The Table window acts like a container for all open attribute tables. Within the Table window, each open table has its own tab, which you can click to view that table. You can also drag the tab of an attribute table and dock it within the Table window to view multiple tables at once.

Viewing multiple tables in ArcGIS

Tables can also be moved within the Table window by using the following Arrange Tables commands on the Table Options menu:

Arranging tables in ArcGIS

Working with joins

You can analyze a join before creating it by using the Validate Join button on the Join Data dialog box. Join validation allows you to assess any potential problems that you might encounter when creating a join. Join validation analyzes the two participating datasets to determine if there are any common problems with the data. The following is a list of what is checked in the data:

Example of how Join Validation works

Field Calculator

In ArcGIS 10, the Field Calculator has been enhanced to work with Python scripting. You can no longer use VBA code blocks; instead, both VB Script and Python are fully supported. The numeric, string, and date functions are populated based on what scripting language is chosen.

Using Python to calculate fields in ArcGIS

New options and commands in the Table window

From the Table Options menu, use Restore Default Field Order to apply the original ordering of fields in the table.

From the row context menu, you can access the Attachment Manager dialog box for managing feature attachments. For this command to be enabled, the feature class must have Attachments enabled, which can be achieved by right-clicking a feature class in the Catalog window and choosing Attachments > Create Attachments.

On the Field Properties dialog box, there are new options for highlighting fields or designating fields to be read-only. These properties can be used to highlight or protect specific fields in the table. You can also set these properties from the Layer Properties dialog box on the Fields tab.

Improved handling of the fields in layers

The improved Fields tab on the Layer Properties dialog box gives you more control over how your layer's fields are presented throughout the system. (The properties dialog box for a stand-alone table also has this improved Fields tab.)

Better control over how fields appear

In ArcGIS 10, the order in which fields appear is now a layer property and is reflected throughout the system when you use a layer (or stand-alone table) in which you've reordered the fields. In previous releases, you could reorder fields in the Table window, but this order was not stored as a property of the layer or reflected in other dialog boxes that showed fields. Using the new Fields tab, you can reorder the fields in your layer (or stand-alone table) using the buttons on the tab or by dragging them up and down in the list. You can also use the Table Options menu button to sort the fields alphabetically or revert to the field order in the underlying data source. You can still reorder fields in the Table window by dragging columns left or right, and any reordering you do in the table window updates the field order for the layer.

Layer Properties dialog box Fields tab

All the choices you make on the Fields tab to tailor how fields appear are now respected by the Attributes window when you edit data. Previously, the Attributes window didn't respect these settings, which made it hard to tailor the fields listing in that window to simplify editing tasks.

To set the alias for a field, type it into the Alias text box in the Appearance grid on the right-hand side of the Fields tab. After you've specified an alias, you can still see the actual name of the field in the Field Details grid along with information about the data type of the field.

You can specify that a field be read-only inside ArcMap, which means you can view but cannot edit that field, regardless of the file or database permissions. This makes it easier to edit particular attributes in your layer, because you can make fields that you don't want to edit be read-only. You can also choose to highlight particular fields. Highlighted fields appear with a yellow background in the Table window, Identify window, and Attributes window. This makes it easy to find the most important fields when you are querying or browsing.

Learn more about using field properties, aliases, and table display options

New display expression

In previous releases, you could choose a primary display field for every layer that would be used to identify and represent the features in the layer in various places in the system. For example, the primary display field was used to provide the values for MapTips and in the feature listings in the Identify dialog box and Attributes window. In ArcGIS 10, the primary display field concept is enhanced so that you can customize the text string that is generated to include values from multiple fields and static text. It is now the display expression, and you'll find it on the Display tab. You can specify the display expression in exactly the same way that you specify the label expression. The display expression defaults to being a single field from your layer, the same way that the primary display field did in previous releases.

Layer Properties dialog box Display tab

Learn more about using the display expression


The Identify window is now dockable. In addition to being able to dock it into the display, you can also choose to stack it with other windows, like the table of contents, or autohide (unpin) it so that it automatically appears when you identify a feature in a layer.

Attaching files to features in a layer as attributes

ArcGIS 10 introduces feature class attachments, which provide a flexible way to manage additional information that is related to your features. Attachments allow you to add files to individual features and can be images, PDFs, text documents, or any other type of file. For example, if you have a feature representing a building, you could use attachments to add multiple photographs of the building taken from several angles, along with PDF files containing the building's deed and tax information.

Attachments are similar to hyperlinks but allow you to associate multiple files with a feature, store the attached files in the geodatabase, and access the files in more ways. You can view attachments from the Identify window, from the Attributes window (when editing), in the attribute table window, and through HTML pop-ups.

Learn more about using attachments