I have a shapefile which contains the approximate boundaries for sites that are being worked on (thousands) in polygons, each with a reference number and additional detail in the attribution.

I have a collection of additional shapefiles with the detailed boundaries, the reference number but not accompanying information. These each have hundreds of boundaries.

What would be the best / quickest way to update the mastershapefile with the detailed boundaries, still maintaining the additional detail in the attribution contained in the master shapefile?

I could work through each shape manually, but can't get my head around how to run this as a batch.

  • Is the only relevant and unique information in the additional shapefile the geometry itself? That is to say, it contains a field that is consistent with the master (reference number) but the information you need from it is the geometry.
    – AHigh
    Jul 26, 2012 at 15:37
  • Yes in this case it is - but it is sorted now thanks to reply below.
    – ESRIHelp
    Jul 27, 2012 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


Probably not in one step but this is what I would do:

  1. join the master attribution shapefile to the updated, detailed boundary shapefile using the reference number as key.

  2. save the joined data as a new shapefile now with full attribution and detailed boundary

  3. remove the join.

  4. select the records to be updated in the master shapefile

  5. delete those records (you have a backup, yes?)

  6. merge the new shapefile created in step 2 back into the master shapefile.

you should now have an updated master shapefile with detailed boundaries and detailed attribution.

What you could also do is, provided your additional detailed boundary shapefiles all have the same schema (fields, field names) is merge those to one shapefile and then do steps 1 through 6 just once instead of for each shapefile. This could probably be done in Model Builder as well...


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.