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Is there a way to connect to PostgreSQL in ArcCatalog without SDE? I came across this post from 2011 that suggested using zigGIS but I can’t find a working link to the program.

A little background: At my work we have a small GIS department (3 people) and our current process is to create file geodatabases for each client. The main issue is that we work in a high-transaction environment and we are constantly locking each other when we work on the same project. This is extremely annoying so we're trying to move to a relational database like PostgreSQL.

While it would be nice to switch over to SDE ESRI Canada gave us a quote that is way too much for a staff of three people (something like 40k install and 20k/year maintenance)

Also if anyone uses PostGIS as your main form of data storage, what GIS program do you use?

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QGIS will connect directly to PostGIS hub.qgis.org/projects/quantum-gis/wiki/Download –  Mapperz May 8 '13 at 18:55
zigGIS is available still code.google.com/p/ziggis/downloads/list –  Mapperz May 8 '13 at 18:56
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marked as duplicate by RyanDalton, Fezter, dassouki, Devdatta Tengshe, Get Spatial May 15 '13 at 5:25

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6 Answers

If you have ArcEditor or ArcInfo desktop level, you have the ability to use SQL Server Express. Even though only one user can edit at a time, the locking and unlocking may be better -- you might try this out first. There lot's of documentation on how to do it, and you don't have to be a dba -- though I like postgres. No offense QGIS folks ;)

Also, make sure that your Esri sales guy gives you a quote for "ArcGIS Server Workgroup", not Enterprise. See below -- you can have 10 concurrent editing connections. It should be more like $3-5k. Pricing http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgisserver/pricing

See also this post for a good explanation of the licensing and links about SDE and SQL Server Express ArcSDE desktop license


"You create geodatabases and perform other administrative tasks for database servers through the Database Servers node in the Catalog window or ArcCatalog. Performing the administration of the database server and its geodatabases through ArcGIS Desktop means there is no extra software or database administration expertise required for you to create and use these types of ArcSDE geodatabases.

Connections to the geodatabases on a database server are always direct connections; they use the ArcSDE library files in the client to make the connection. In this case, the client applications are ArcGIS Desktop at the ArcEditor or ArcInfo license level, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server Workgroup.

The media for these products include installation files for SQL Server Express. Once you have created the SQL Server Express instance and run the wizard to enable the instance to store geodatabases, the libraries within the client application allow you to connect to and work with the database servers and create and work with geodatabases on the database server.

With ArcGIS Desktop (ArcEditor and ArcInfo) and ArcGIS Engine, you can set up a database server and create ArcSDE geodatabases that can be accessed by a few users and edited by one user at a time.

With ArcGIS Server Workgroup using ArcGIS Desktop, you can set up a database server and create ArcSDE geodatabases that can be accessed by up to 10 users at a time, all of whom can be editing concurrently. When using the database servers licensed through ArcGIS Server Workgroup, you can also connect to the geodatabases using Web applications, for which there is no connection limit."

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I've had success using ArcSDE SQL Server Express geodatabases with multiple users/editors, but it has been a few years since we set it up. The GDB is created on one user's workstation, other users in the office connect to its instance, and each user does edits in his or her own version, which were then posted to the default version when desired. This was all installed from the Desktop install media, no ArcGIS Server involved, I'm pretty sure there were no licensing implications beyond each user having his Desktop ArcEditor/ArcInfo-level license. –  MC5 May 8 '13 at 21:10
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I wrote a plugin that gives ArcGIS access to 50+ vector formats (including PostGIS). It is still experimental, but you can try it out and tell me how it goes.

There are advantages of using this approach over the built-in functionality in ArcGIS (look at the FAQ), but again, it is still experimental.

Download and instructions here

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hi, is this still read-only? –  Matt May 20 '13 at 9:00
programmatically you can actually write through the ExecuteSQL functionality. I just have not built an interface that allows to do it through ArcMap. So you can write through code, but not through the GUI yet. –  Ragi Yaser Burhum May 20 '13 at 22:32
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ArcGIS 10.1 SP1 can connect to PostGIS 2.0.0 databases natively, but the connection is read-only, and mostly functions as a cleaner front end to query layers (in fact, it just loads any layers as query layers). The database connection just allows you to view all the tables and layers in the database in catalog.

postgis1 postgis2 postgis3

As an alternative, there is also arcgis-ogr, which allows connections to all OGR vector types as an ArcGIS plugin.arcgis-ogr. It is also read-only at the moment.

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GISquirrel does the job at a fraction of the cost of SDE. It supports arcgis connection to both MSSQL and PostGIS. Very simple to setup (able to import to postgres from shapefile/featureclass) and simple to maintain. For a small number of users who need multi-user edit capability, its just fine.

We use GISquirrel/Arcgis for our GIS 'power users' and QGIS can connect to the same PostGIS server for our 'basic users', which saves on licence costs.

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Can your 'power users' edit in the ArcGIS environment or is it still read only? –  user17963 May 9 '13 at 20:04
yes GISquirrel allows full editing in ArcGIS. –  Matt May 9 '13 at 21:28
Interesting! What about Topology checks? –  user17963 May 9 '13 at 22:13
It works is by creating a temp geodatabase for the user's selected features and locks those features to the user for editing, using ArcGIS you can then edit the feature in the geodatabase, once the edits are saved, the features are updated in PostGIS. It is also possible to edit all the feature in a layer at once. –  Matt May 9 '13 at 22:43
Thanks Matt I'm going to test out using GISquirrel and see if it works with our data! –  user17963 May 10 '13 at 16:32
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ST-Links SpatialKit is an ArcMap Extension for directly connecting to spatial databases with No ArcSDE, No ArcInfo, No ArcGIS Server.

According to their License, it costs $188 CAD, but they state "We will continue to issue free licenses for those users that can not afford the license fee. Free licenses have time limits. If you request a free license, please give the reason in your license request email."

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Yes, it is fairly easy provided you have the necessary license level of Arc Server. I believe Arc Desktop Standard or Advanced will work these days.

EDIT: Although the post isn't specific, I should have assumed the poster does not have this license.

Setting up postgreSQL for ESRI: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#/Setting_up_a_geodatabase_in_PostgreSQL/002p00000001000000/

The tool you need: Create enterprise GDB, from the toolbox: Toolboxes\System Toolboxes\Data Management Tools.tbx\Geodatabase Administration http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//001700000162000000

You need to enable client connections on postgreSQL server, configure the f/w etc, but that first link has all the info in there, although it is quite a read. You'll need the client libraries as well, 32 or 64bit depending on your setup.

The direct connect method will put most of your load client side, pros and cons to that, but SQL should really help you with your issues. Note you can't do things such as schema changes, etc but you probably knew that.

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You still need an ArcGIS server for enterprise license to create the enterprise GDB in postgres. –  SeaJunk May 8 '13 at 20:24
Ah, thankyou, I forgot to specify that in the license requirements. –  Tom May 9 '13 at 15:51
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