We have a quite large ArcSDE (~120 versioned feature classes & tables, 1M-3M records) which has Oracle or SQL underlying DBMS. This SDE is exposed through a MapService and we use ArcGIS JS API to display layers.

Now we'd like to have full-text search against set of feature classes and tables in the SDE. ESRI manuals say we should set up XML columns to enable search through documents. But I really don't understand how it helps.

So the questions are:

  • Is ArcSDE capable of full-text searching?
  • And if yes, is there any services in ArcGIS Server or whatever which can help us with this?

Firstly, I'd like to say that I little bit messed up terms. I thought that ArcSDE==SDE==geodatabase. However It's different things and I actually meant geodatabase.

Secondly, here's the solution we've came up with: There's Find task available on ArcGIS Map Service out of box, which does text search against given layers. It performs unexpectetly fast and we're going to use it. If performance is unsatisfactory we'll enable Lucene to cache queries. Hope this solution will work. I'll report the result here as soon as we implement this approach.

  • Are you searching the features or their metadata? Can you expand a little on what you're hoping to achieve with this search capability... there might be existing tools in Oracle/SQL or ArcObjects that do what you want. May 20, 2015 at 5:10
  • Data is never stored "in SDE" -- ArcSDE is just a common access protocol to manage data stored in databases.
    – Vince
    May 20, 2015 at 5:42
  • Our goal is to have kind of live search against some set of feature classes stored in SDE. May 20, 2015 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


No, ArcSDE is not capable of full-text search. but the databases through which it is used to connect are. Furthermore, the ArcSDE API exposes some of the database capability in functions to access XML column contents.

I've never personally successfully configured a database to perform free-text search. I suspect there may be black magic involved, since I only know two people who have, and it only seems to function when they are present.

My suggestion would be to leave ArcGIS out of the equation at first, and try to achieve your free-text search goals using SQL. Once you have SQL expressions that meet your needs, creating a Query Layer or versioned view query probably won't require any arcane rituals.

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