Table basics

In the geodatabase, attributes are managed in tables based on a series of simple, yet essential, relational data concepts:

Feature class table

Tables and relationships play a key role in ArcGIS, just as they do in traditional database applications. Rows in tables can be used to store all the properties of geographic objects. This includes holding and managing feature geometry in a Shape column.

The illustration below shows two tables and how their records can be related to one another using a common field.

Feature and attribute storage in tables

Attribute data types in the geodatabase

There are a number of supported column types used to hold and manage attributes in the geodatabase. The available column types include a variety of number types, text, date, binary large objects (BLOBs), and globally unique identifiers (GUIDs).

The supported attribute column types in the geodatabase include

XML column types are also supported through programming interfaces. The XML column can hold any formatted XML content (such as metadata XML).

See Geodatabase field data types for more information.

Extending tables

Tables provide descriptive information for features, rasters, and traditional attribute tables in the geodatabase. Users perform many traditional tabular and relational operations using tables.

In the geodatabase, there is a focused set of capabilities that are optionally used to extend the capabilities of tables. These include the following:

Working with attribute tables in the geodatabase


If you need to

Attribute domains

Specify a list of valid values or a range of valid values for attribute columns. Use domains to help ensure the integrity of attribute values. Domains are often used to enforce data classifications (such as road class, zoning codes, and land-use classifications).

Relationship classes

Build relationships between two tables using a common key. Find the related rows in a second table based on rows selected in the original.


Manage a set of attribute subclasses in a single table. This is often used on feature class tables to manage different behaviors on subsets of the same feature types.


Manage long update transactions, historical archives, and multiuser editing required in GIS workflows.

Working with attribute tables in the geodatabase