I recently connected a MySQL database to ArcGIS by adding an OLE DB Connection. I can view the tables just fine; however, my XY data will not show up on the map directly from the MySQL table, I have to export the data to a standalone File Geodatabase table first, and then display the XY Data. Is this normal?

It seems like it sort of defeats the purpose of dynamic data tables. I wanted to directly manipulate the MySQL tables in ArcGIS so that changes I make to the attributes in ArcGIS are reflected on the MySQL database and vice versa.

This brings me to my real question. I was unable to locate any detailed documentation concerning:

What are the limitations of using MySQL through an OLE DB Connection with ArcGIS?

I found an inkling on the limitations from this post.

Establishing a MySQL connection in ArcGIS 10 ". . geometries from the Spatial extension will not come through to the GIS."

Can anyone tell me where I can find out more? Should I just switch to Microsoft SQL for use with ArcGIS?

  • It's an OLE DB connection -- no geometry type is possible. SQL-Server is not the only potential database, though SQL-Server Express is the only database supported at Personal or Workgroup licensing.
    – Vince
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


From what I understand, at the time enterprise geodatabases were being designed at ESRI, MySQL simply was not extensible enough to support data structures needed for efficiently represent geographic data. In other words, you cannot define complex column types at will, create an index based on it, etc. Think about the feature geometry as a field, it can be much more complicated than a number or a text field, which is supported by most RDBMSs. If you need free and open source DBMS, I'd suggest PostgreSQL, though you need an enterprise license to natively talk to it from ArcGIS.

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    This is absolutely untrue with modern versions of MySQL—while not as rich as PostGIS, MySQL can support these operations now. Not so much a few years ago, and certainly not through ODBC. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 3:22
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    I can understand why you would feel so strongly about MySql. My point is that this is probably what has gone through the design process at ESRI. It has it now, but not when they designed their enterprise geo database system. Like I said, I am not part of the design team, rather this is my recollection based on my experience with MySQL, Postgresql and ArcGIS.
    – Mahdi
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 4:55
  • I worked at Esri at the time. MySQL's spatial features were a joke. If at this point if they were adding/augmenting geodatabase functionality then MySQL would definitely be a contender. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 4:58
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    So you are proving my conjecture. Why negative vote then?
    – Mahdi
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 4:59
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    OK, now it is past tense inspired by your comments. Thanks!
    – Mahdi
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 5:03

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