Original question: I have found a lot of documentation on importing and using query layers from SQL Server into ArcCatalog/ArcMap/etc. However, when you change the projection of a feature class or use the editor tool in ArcMap (say to break up or split a polygon) then try to export it back into SQL Server, you cannot visualize the geometry when querying the table in sql server anymore.

I was wondering if anyone knew why this happened, and if there was a way to fix this either before you export into sql server or within sql server itself.


I now know why I cannot see the spatial results in sql server; when exporting it is giving my feature class ESRI's default native geometry type, which SQL Server cannot visualize without conversion. From what I can find online, the "Migrate Storage" processing tool in ArcMap 10.3 should be able to fix this issue. However, after I ran the tool (and got a "succeeded" message in the results) it still does not show the shape column as a "geography" data type.

  • What version of SQL Server? Are you using ArcGIS or SDE on your server? Which version?
    – Midavalo
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:12
  • I use MS SQL Server 2012, accessing query layers and tables from a database connection in ESRI ArcMap 10.3. I did find a solution/workaround, so I'll post it to the question and then this issue can be closed.
    – geo_coder
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:38
  • Do you mean to ask how to convert an ArcSDE table in SQL Server Native GEOMETRY to SQL Server Native GEOGRAPHY? Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


The workaround I figured out I still don't think is the ideal way to do it, but for now will work.

Instead of using the Migrate Storage process in ArcMap, I simply opened up the catalog, right-clicked on my edited feature class/table in my connected db and selected "export" --> "to geodatabase (single)". In the export window, I was able open the optional geodatabase settings and select "Geography" for the configuration keyword (optional)

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Now when I open SQL Server and query from the edited feature class I exported with type GEOGRAPHY, it will show the spatial results as well as the attributes, which is what I wanted.

I feel like this is a workaround and not a true solution/way of altering a feature class's data type, but I still wanted to post it in case others have the same question I did.

  • also discovered a potential reason why the migrate storage process runs and succeeds but doesn't do anything - According to ESRI documentation: If the editable feature layer contains m-values, you can't edit the geometry for existing features. To edit geometry for existing features in the layer, the layer owner must move the data with m-values to a separate layer (which can be in the same service).
    – geo_coder
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 20:33
  • Migrating a layer is likely to fragment it, impairing performance. Copying to a new table is actually superior to most migration options.
    – Vince
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 0:11

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