I have feature layer which needs to be updated with new attribute information. The text field I need to populate already has an established coded domain. I need to update hundreds of records and don't want to manually update. If I field calculate the selected values aren't I adding a new value not associated with my domain? What is the correct workflow for this type of mass edit?

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    If the domain already contains the value you want to apply to your records, in an Editor session use the Attribute window (right click in the map with the Editor arrow and choose "Attributes"). After selecting the records that must all change to one of the domain values, in the Attribute window select the layer name at the top of the selected feature list, then in the field list choose the domain value you want from the normal drop down. All of the records will be updated to the domain value you picked. If you need new domain values use the methods described by Alex first. Nov 20, 2015 at 15:40
  • Thanks Richard! I completely forgot about that in the attributes window when editing
    – GISMapper
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


The field calculator will ignore the domain that you have set up for the field. It will be possible to calculate the coded values that are not present in the domain. Calculating those values won't add them to the domain.

If you want to add multiple values to the domain, you should use the GP tool Add Coded Value To Domain which adds a value to a domain's coded value list. Alternatively, use the Table To Domain tool which creates or updates a coded value domain with values from a table.

I suggest using Python for automating the workflow. You should have a valid domain with valid coded values before you will edit the values. I'd consider editing an attribute with values that are not present in the domain associated with a field a bad practice.

  • I don't want to add a new value to the domain. I just want to populate new features in bulk with an established value
    – GISMapper
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:21
  • I see. Then you can use the field calculator with Python code, such as here for having multiple if-else statements - look here Calculate fields using logic with Python at resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.2/index.html#/…. You could also select rows you want to update in the attribute table and run field calculator. It respects the selection. Nov 20, 2015 at 15:28

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