I have been given data from an working online application which consists of a relational model. My aim is to recreate the model using Arcgis Desktop.

I have the table "elements" containing Point geometry with the attribute element_id as the primary key. In the table Aspects, Types and media. The tables "Aspects" and "Media" have a 1:1 relationship with "elements" and media has a 1:m relationship.

It is possible to build these multiple relationships in ArcGIS Desktop?

  • 1
    Would you be able to edit your question to specify whether you are talking about ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS for Server, the ArcGIS Platform as a whole or something more specific, please? Many-to-many can be handled using relationship classes but can you also include some more background to your question to focus it some more.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 31, 2014 at 12:00
  • I'd overlooked that you mentioned desktop in your question title so will now edit that into its body and tag.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 31, 2014 at 12:10
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    What makes this hard, even if you're using MS SQL Server or PostGIS is that creating spatial views or tables that are constructed using SQL joins, relates, etc. are difficult - though not impossible - to consume using ArcMap. Building a table that joins geometry to features by an ID requires not only the geometry, but a unique ID column in order to be displayed. ArcMap cannot index/optimize the data, however, as that is what it uses all the extra tables in ArcSDE for (how quickly a MSSQL/PostGIS database gets clogged up so quickly...) But we're doing this at DPS and its going OK for some tasks Jul 31, 2014 at 16:24
  • I think that you should try putting these tables into a file geodatabase and then to create relationship classes for each relationship you describe. If that does not "just work" then you should be in a position to ask a more focussed and answer-able question. I think your question needs to also so what data storage requirements you have i.e. is SQL Server in the picture (or not), file geodatabase OK (or not), etc
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 31, 2014 at 22:27
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    what did i miss ? why not use FGDB with few relationship class to these tables including many-to-many ? Aug 1, 2014 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


You can have related tables in ArcGIS Desktop, but it sounds like what you're really trying to do might be adding Attachments. There are pros and cons to both approaches, particularly if you ever want to work with Server or Online (related tables coming soon!)

Aside from just building the relationships, give careful consideration to how you plan to update and maintain the data.

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