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I created a map package on my desktop, and copied the folder containing it and a geodatabase containing feature classes that were in the map to my laptop. On my laptop version, I edited one of the feature classes. When I copied my laptop version of the map package back to my desktop (to a different folder than the original) and opened it, it did not show the edited version of my feature class, but rather the original feature class. I assumed that the edits I made were being made to the geodatabase that I copied to the laptop and that the map package would have referenced that. But it did not. Apparently, when you make a map package, it packages up all files, whether or not you 'pack' them with it in the folder you're transferring to another computer.

Is it not good practice to use a map package as a working copy, when editing features?

Should I have saved a copy of the map package as an .mxd, then packaged that before transferring it back to my desktop?

How could I have avoided this problem?

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I believe map packages are principally for sharing a complete layer set and referenced data as a single file. See ESRI's help file for ArcGIS for Desktop here for more information.

In situations where I have to move from one machine to another, I find it easiest to use a folder containing my mxds and organized sub-folders for the related data. Then, in the File menu under Map Document Properties, choose 'Store relative pathnames to data sources' and then they ArcMap won't complain about moving place to place, so long as your data stays in the same folder or sub-folders.

Even better is to go to the Customize menu and within ArcMap Options choose "Make relative paths the default for new map documents" and then you'll never need to set this manually again.

  • Thanks for your reply - I have done this in the past (before map package existed), and it was a huge pain. The maps we take out to sea for our research contain a lot of very big files, so I created a 'portable' folder structure to copy them all to and reconnected them, a tedious and time-consuming process. The map package option became such a Godsend. I had never edited a feature before while at sea, however, which led to this issue. Now I know I have to make a new package to transfer back to my desktop, and/or make sure I replace my original database with the one that was edited. – diwatters Nov 28 '18 at 21:08
  • Again, just to be clear, if you move the folder containing the mxd and all of its required files you need not ever reconnect the pieces so long as the 'relative pathnames' options is checked. Those will remain connected/unbroken. This foregoes the need to make additional map packages which will keep total number of files and total file size to a minimum. – Pictory Nov 29 '18 at 3:18
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Map packages include data (they are completely self-contained), so don't copy the geodatabase separately. As the package is extracted/opened, its map should point to the data that is unpacked, not to any sources outside the package. If you need to edit the data, use the extracted data. Then repackage it if you need to move it somewhere later, e.g., if you need to restore your data.

If you need to use a map package, I would use it as the backup and edit your original data. Then you may never need to extract the package. Personally, I use ArcCatalog to copy an entire database, or export a feature class, somewhere on my share drive or c drive when I need a backup; I eventually erase backups as I have nightly system backups to rely on.

  • Thanks! I suppose I could have also saved the packaged map as an .mxd and replaced the 'packaged' feature/database with the one I brought separately. And packaged that up to transfer back. A good idea to use the package as a backup, not the working copy. – diwatters Nov 28 '18 at 21:12

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