I'm trying to turn data in a Microsoft Access file into an ArcGIS-10 layer. The table contains a column labeled "shape." Each line in this column reads "long binary data." What's that?
The Shape field is also known as the Geometry field. It has all of the geometry required to render each feature (or record) in your Table. The Information in this field is not able to be read as it is proprietary for the ArcGIS Software so decoding the Binary information is done by the ArcGIS (ArcObjects) Reference Library. The Long Binary Data you are seeing is a designation of the BLOB Data Type standing for Binary Large Object. This is a binary dataset, and can be used for rasters, video, images and other large data types.
Simple thing is leave it alone as it is the geometry for all features in this feature class. So if you Open ArcCatalog and point to your Access database you should then be able to see the symbology as written by Brad Nesom. Before you do this make sure you have the data stored as an MDB and not an ACCDB, reason being is that the Personal Geodatabase is native to MDB but ACCDB is read only and only for attribute data.
Have Fun, CDB
If your mdb table has a shape field it should already be esri data.
Does it contain an OID, FID or GUID as well?
Edit: > Yes OBJECTID is the one I forgot to put in the list.
If you view the db in arccatalog you should see icons
for the tables that have geodata in them. Other tables will have a table icon.
My example shows the table icons first, then it has a file based gdb, but the icons are the same regardless.
I believe your data is already in a personal geodatabase. I would suggest you confirm this by looking at your database in arc-catalog