Advantages of ArcPad AXF files
ArcPad AXF files provide many advantages over shapefiles, including the following:
- A single ArcPad AXF file can store multiple feature classes (or feature tables) and multiple feature layers; and all of the related tables, customization, projection information, and other data associated with these feature classes and tables. In contrast, a shapefile can only store a single feature class.
- An ArcPad AXF file consists of a single file, whereas a shapefile is comprised of a number of files. The single file results in more robust behavior during power interruptions or rebooting of the mobile device.
- Less memory is required for opening and working with ArcPad AXF files.
- ArcPad AXF files support related tables, subtypes, and domains (both coded-value and range domains). These relationships are managed at the database level—whereas with shapefiles extensive scripts and forms are required.
- All text data in ArcPad AXF files is stored using Unicode character encoding, eliminating the codepage issues associated with the shapefile DBF files.
- Spatial and attribute indexes for ArcPad AXF files are maintained on-the-fly during editing. This results in consistent performance when viewing or editing ArcPad AXF files, and eliminates the need to rebuild the indexes after editing. In contrast, the spatial and attribute indexes for shapefiles are deleted as soon as the layer is activated for editing, resulting in much slower draw and query performance when editing shapefiles and the need to rebuild the indexes when editing is completed.
- ArcPad AXF files can be encrypted, requiring a password to open and use the contents of the ArcPad AXF file. This provides some level of protection of the contents of the ArcPad AXF file.
Although ArcPad AXF files provide many advantages over shapefiles in some situations shapefiles are preferable to ArcPad AXF files. Shapefiles perform better than ArcPad AXF files when shapefiles are not being edited and the spatial and attribute indexes exist. In these cases shapefiles draw faster than ArcPad AXF files. As a result, shapefiles are preferred for large, read-only background or reference data. However, the performance of shapefiles slows down considerably once the shapefile has been activated for editing and the indexes have deleted.