I would be interested to know if someone can tell me why SDE Connection: Layer Data-source shows C:\USER\JOHN_SMITH and not DATABASE CONNECTIONS\****

Back ground is we are going through a migration process of switching our SDE layers at the moment. This involves doing a data listing of all the data sources on maps. During this process i have noticed the the data sources of the the Current SDE layers are varied in the way they are listed.

What i expect to see (happening some of time ) is below

Database Connections\NAME_OF_SDE.sde\NAME_FEATURE

But i am also seeing this


i am thinking this might be related to where the data is pulled from. Say if it is coming directly from a the SDE or if it is dragged and dropped from a map. Then the user name might be picked up

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    In truth, there is no difference between the two parent folders, it's just that one is fully-qualified while the other is relative.
    – Vince
    Oct 2, 2015 at 11:12
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    Thanks Vince , could some information related to what controls , one appearing and not another. I am interested in understating the underlying process Oct 2, 2015 at 11:26
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    What happends when you add a layer at 10.1 from sde connection? Oct 2, 2015 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


When you add a layer to the map from DATABASE CONNECTIONS\**** , then the path will be relative (e.g. DATABASE CONNECTIONS\connection.sde\FC1)

DATABASE CONNECTIONS\**** is an important and known path within ArcGIS System. It acts like an environmental variable. Although the user can't change it. It is always %appdata%\ESRI\Desktop10.2\ArcCatalog\

If the user manully browse to this location (e.g. C:\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Desktop10.2\ArcCatalog), then the layer datasource will show the absolute path.

So it depends on how you have browsed (e.g. in catalog window) the sde feature class.

This behavior is the same either using "Add Button" or draging and droping via "Catalog Window"

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