Is there any way to interface with features, but more specifically their attributes, in a file geodatabase like you can in a personal geodatabase?

Frequently I will just open a personal geodatabase in MS Access and use straight SQL (not the query wizard but raw SQL - I think quicker and work much more quickly this way) to manipulate attributes in their tables, do table field updates, drop records based on whatever criteria, etc. This works and it works well and is a heckuva lot easier than trying to jockey with attributes through ArcGIS (e.g., the Intersect tool) like if I want to just append one field etc. I've been doing this for a couple of years on multiple projects with no problems.

Is there any recourse for this approach with a file geodatabase? I'm guessing not but am hoping I'm wrong...and am wondering if ESRI may deprecate the personal geodatabase format all together since they really push the file geodatabase format...

thanks Tom

  • 5
    This is one of those situations where it would be really nice to have an ODBC interface to a File Geodatabase
    – Mike T
    Jun 16, 2011 at 1:31
  • I agree - an ODBC interface to a FileGDB would be fantastic. Sounds like after reading that linked legacy esri forum post that it's still "in the works". ArcObjects is not the answer to everything!
    – MapBlast
    Jun 16, 2011 at 16:13
  • In the thread @Mike posted, an Esri employee posted on Mar 04, 2008 that "We are planning a ODBC provider for a later release of ArcGIS (Post 9.3)." Sad that we still don't have the much-needed ODBC interface. Jun 16, 2011 at 18:22
  • yep, I noticed that as well. who has the time to actually create their own with the FGDB API?? c'mon esri...
    – MapBlast
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:55
  • 1
    If you'd like to see ODBC functionality added to the file geodatabase, please promote this idea on the ideas.arcgis.com site: ideas.arcgis.com/apex/…
    – MapBlast
    Jul 28, 2011 at 21:46

2 Answers 2


The File GDB API is probably the best way.
It used to be in http://resources.arcgis.com/content/geodatabases/10.0/file-gdb-api but now in ESRI's GitHub, https://github.com/Esri/file-geodatabase-api.

Its just a library with no front end GUI. If your a .NET developer I created a sample wrapper for the C++ dll that could get you started.

You can get newest one here. Includes C++ and C# library with examples. https://github.com/Esri/file-geodatabase-api


File Geodatabase is native to ESRI but Cross-platform (unlike Personal Geodatabases windows only).

We use FME (Safe Software) which makes it easy to work with either Personal, File or SDE Geodatabases.

Though it could be possible to use the personal geodatabase approach but have an automated system that would copy (or update) to a file geodatabase overnight.

Though recently the File Geodatabase API has become more usable

http://resources.arcgis.com/content/geodatabases/10.0/file-gdb-api or https://github.com/Esri/file-geodatabase-api

(if you have C++ skills)

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