About geographic data formats

Most of the topics in this help section document how to use the geodatabase and a few other primary data formats that are native to ArcGIS. In addition to geodatabases, a fundamental goal of ArcGIS is to work with numerous file-based data, DBMS data — including spatial types in the DBMS, and with GIS web services from Google, Bing, ArcIMS, ArcGIS Server, and others such as OGC web services. This topic provides an overview about many of the foreign spatial data formats supported by ArcGIS.

ArcGIS lets you work with a number of data formats from many sources. Some of the supported data sources are listed here.

List of data formats supported in ArcGIS

The Data Interoperability extension

In addition, ESRI and Safe Software have integrated the Safe Software FME product into ArcGIS as an optional extension product named the Data Interoperability Extension. This adds support for over 70 additional data formats that can be used directly within ArcGIS.

It also gives you the ability to define new custom data sources and to define data transformation procedures that help you perform advanced data transformations between a variety of GIS and tabular data structures.

In general, most external data sources are used as feature classes or as raster data sources within ArcGIS.