I have a feature class with a fields I'd like to restrict to certain values. I'm aware of , where I can have lookup table that translates the real-code-recorded-in-table into a human-friendly-rendering of that value, e.g.:

| SurveyTech_Code |      Survey_Technique      |
|               0 | Guess                      |
|               1 | Total count                |
|               2 | Stratified random quadrate |
|               3 | Extrapolation              |
|               4 | Direct photocount          |

However what I want is to have the real-recorded-value and the human-friendly-value be the same thing. Is creating a coded value domain like the below the only way?

|      SurveyTech_Code       |      Survey_Technique      |
| Guess                      | Guess                      |
| Total count                | Total count                |
| Stratified random quadrate | Stratified random quadrate |
| Extrapolation              | Extrapolation              |
| Direct photocount          | Direct photocount          |

Coded Value Domains are a bit laborious to create and assign. I'm hoping for something like "select field name, type list of valid values" (well, paste actually), and then when editing or creating features just selecting from the list.

I don't care about space constraints or the (possible) performance gains from using numeric lookups as these are in a file geodatabase. Also it would make exporting to shapefile painless (not like this).

  • Is editing in Excel an option? If yes, a couple of buttons in Excel: 1. forcing Arcmap to zoom/pan to associated selected row in Excel 2. Update related shapefile table. Editing in Excel using values list
    – FelixIP
    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:48
  • @FelixIP, that won't work for me as the source is file-gdb, but it's a welcome addition to the conversation as I'm sure that would be a workable option for some. (...and got me thinking how nice it would be to have Excel or similar actually be be ArcGIS's internal table editor!) Dec 3, 2014 at 16:50
  • ArcGIS Idea - Create new domain type - Value domain speaks directly to this need, vote it up! Dec 3, 2014 at 17:55
  • If you think Coded Value Domains are a bit laborious to create and assign manually, you can use the arcpy lib to create a script (or a modelbuilder if you're not familiar with python) and do this automatically. 1. Create the domain using the Create Domain tool. 2. Add values to or set the range of values for the domain using the Add_Coded_Value_to_Domain tool or Set Value For Range Domain tool. 3. Associate the domain with a feature class using Assign Domain To Field tool
    – egoz
    Feb 2, 2015 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


If you read the usage section here the feature class to feature class can export the domain description. There are tools for loading tables into Domains, they are all discussed here. Finally you can have your text values just use a text field instead of a short!

  • 1
    Good news about Transfer Field Domain Descriptions (Environment setting), thanks! (you should add it as answer to the linked Q) However transferring to shapefiles is only one of the reasons for not using codes, there are other tools and process where the code instead of lookup value is shown, necessitating sticky notes on croner pf monitor etc. The primary driver for the Q today though is the (faint hope) for picklist entry when editing, without the friction of TableToDomain, AssignDomainToTable and friends. Dec 2, 2014 at 23:13

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