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Is there a way to create a catalog of vector layers in ESRI? We have thousands of tiles of 25cm contour data which we need to individually find and add to maps. It would be so much easier if there was a way to load the best available tiles based on the current map extent.

For Raster we use the Mosaic Dataset which works very well but is there a similar format for vectors?

Mapinfo has hotlinks so we use the index tiles to open files in the frame without having to find the tiles but the best system is the Global Mapper Catalog (gmc) format which works great for vectors and rasters but a search online shows nothing for ESRI (the last mention of this though was in 2005).

Any ideas?

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There certainly used to be in ARC/INFO (that became ArcInfo Workstation) where it was known as a map library and had an awesome command called VISIT that made tile-wise geoprocessing very easy to implement. To draw a map library layer you just had to say something like POLYGONSHADES .<layer> and you would see tiles drawn successively in much the same way that a raster catalog works today. If you create/find an ArcGIS Idea for this I will certainly vote for it. –  PolyGeo Mar 8 '13 at 1:37
The closest thing available today I think will be to create a layer group. Thinking a little more about it an approach might be to use a Python Add-in to use the current extent to access an index feature class to work out the best tile FCs there which need to turn on (with rest turned off). The hardest part might be creating/maintaining your index feature class. –  PolyGeo Mar 8 '13 at 1:49
Is there a reason you can't load it into one feature class? –  Craig Williams Mar 8 '13 at 8:27
@CraigWilliams Have you ever tried loading fine Contour Data in ArcMap? I wouldn't wish that experience even on my worst enemy! –  Devdatta Tengshe Mar 8 '13 at 11:04
I've now logged an ArcGIS Idea for this. –  PolyGeo Mar 15 '13 at 6:56
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