An overview of working with feature datasets

A feature dataset is a collection of related feature classes that share a common coordinate system. Feature datasets are used to spatially or thematically integrate related feature classes. Their primary purpose is for organizing related feature classes into a common dataset for building a topology, a network dataset, a terrain dataset, or a geometric network.

Using feature datasets

Use feature datasets to organize spatially related feature classes into a common dataset:

  • To add a topology
  • To add a network dataset
  • To add a geometric network
  • To add a terrain dataset
  • To add a parcel fabric

Feature datasets

There are additional situations in which users apply feature datasets in their geodatabases:

Specifying the coordinate system up front

Another design factor in organizing feature classes into common feature datasets is the requirement to use a spatial reference. Thus, it's useful to define your coordinate system requirements for each feature class prior to organizing feature classes into common feature datasets.

When creating a new feature dataset, you must define its spatial reference. This includes its coordinate system—either geographic or a specific projection—as well as coordinate units and tolerances for x,y; z-; and m-values. All feature classes in the same feature dataset must share a common coordinate system, and x,y coordinates of their features should fall within a common spatial extent.

See An overview of spatial references for information on defining the coordinate system and spatial reference.

Published 6/8/2010