I am trying to retreive the Attachment of a Feature using ArcObjects in C#. The data is correct, I am able to dump the attachments to the disk using SaveToFile.

I want to work in memory and not dump to the disk and re-read the bytes as this is terribly wrong.

Also, I cannot "hack" in the database and select the BLOB directly.

Here is the relevant piece of code that I have up to now and the operation AttachToMemory which I believe is the way to go but I am unable to get it working.

IEnumAttachment enumAttachment = table.AttachmentManager.GetAttachmentsByParentIDs(ids, false);
IAttachment attachment = null;
while ((attachment = enumAttachment.Next()) != null)
    byte[] data = new byte[attachment.Size];
    attachment.Data.AttachToMemory(ref data[0], (uint)attachment.Size, 0);


After the AttachToMemory operation, the data does not contain the bytes, it is initialized to null bytes.

I have tried to work with unmanaged memory portions but then I get some very strange results (the few first bytes are non-null then the rest is null bytes) :

IntPtr pointer = Marshal.AllocHGlobal(attachment.Size);
byte first = (byte)pointer.ToPointer(); // <---- this looks very wrong
attachment.Data.AttachToMemory(ref first, (uint)attachment.Size, 0);
Marshal.Copy(pointer, data, 0, data.Length);

One of my issues in understanding how it is supposed to work is that the AttachToMemory method accepts a ref byte as first argument. This seems very strange to me.

The reference of the ArcObject is here : http://resources.esri.com/help/9.3/arcgisengine/arcobjects/esriSystem/IMemoryBlobStream_AttachToMemory.htm

  • I'm confused, what is strange? That "ref byte is the first argument" or that "byte passes to method as ref"? Apr 19, 2018 at 1:58
  • Strange that you should pass a ref byte from a cast to another object that you cannot pass itself... but this type of construct is frequent when working with low-level APIs.
    – Simon
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


It's sensible to pass data variable by ref to method. Attachment could be 1 GB file.

When I used the code in the question, data consisted of just zeros. After some research, I added some code lines. Now attachments is retrieved correctly. (I pointed out added lines)

using ESRI.ArcGIS.Framework;
using ESRI.ArcGIS.Carto;
using ESRI.ArcGIS.Geodatabase;
using ESRI.ArcGIS.ArcMapUI;
using ESRI.ArcGIS.esriSystem;
using System;

namespace ArcMapAddin
    public class Button1 : ESRI.ArcGIS.Desktop.AddIns.Button
        // to show message
        IMessageDialog messageWindow = new MessageDialogClass();

        public Button1() {}        

        protected override void OnClick()
            IMxDocument mxDoc = ArcMap.Application.Document as IMxDocument;
            IMap map = mxDoc.FocusMap;
            ILayer layer = null;
            IFeatureClass featureClass = null;
            IEnumLayer enumLayer = map.Layers;

            layer = enumLayer.Next(); // map has one layer
            featureClass = (layer as IFeatureLayer).FeatureClass;

            ITableAttachments table= (ITableAttachments)featureClass;
            IAttachmentManager attachmentManager = table.AttachmentManager;

            ILongArray ids = new LongArrayClass();

            IEnumAttachment enumAttachment = attachmentManager.GetAttachmentsByParentIDs(ids, false);
            IAttachment attachment = null;

            while ((attachment = enumAttachment.Next()) != null)

                IMemoryBlobStream dataBlob = attachment.Data;
                byte[] data = new byte[dataBlob.Size];
                // ADDED LINES
                object _data = null;
                (dataBlob as IMemoryBlobStreamVariant).ExportToVariant(out _data);
                data = (byte[])_data;

                attachment.Data.AttachToMemory(ref data[0], (uint)attachment.Size, 0);

                // CONTROL
                String x = BitConverter.ToString(data, 0);
                messageWindow.DoModal("RESULT", x.ToString(), null, null, ArcMap.Application.hWnd);

        protected override void OnUpdate()
            Enabled = ArcMap.Application != null;

I didn't find much about using AttachToMemorymethod.

  • This is it ! The cast to IMemoryBlobStreamVariant and ExportToVariant() made it. Although in your code, no need to pre-allocate the byte[] data as it just consumes some memory for nothing. For info, how did you find this solution, is there any doc out there that explains this ?
    – Simon
    Apr 19, 2018 at 9:58
  • The only thing that I've found useful is just the last paragraph in this link. There are some codes about IMemoryBlobStream, but I didn't find about AttachToMemory. I thought deleting byte[] data, but I couldn't be sure. Apr 19, 2018 at 10:09

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