I have inherited an ArcSDE instance that has 1000+ feature classes within which are around 100 Feature Datasets.

I have found through manual exploration that there are at least some Feature Classes that have been duplicated across the different Feature Datasets. Though the names are different everything else is the same.

Is there a way to find and possibly catalogue these duplicate Feature Classes without searching manually?

Metadata is very poor so this neither a solution nor a way to even to narrow down my search.

ArcSDE and Desktop are version 10.0

2 Answers 2


You could definitely script something in Python (or similar) to make the task easier.

Rather than comparing every featureclass with every other featureclass recursively, partition them into point, line and polygon categories.

Within each category, calculate the number of features in each layer. This gives you another sub-category (eg point featureclasses with 12,345 features) which should hopefully only contain a few potential duplicates.

You can then use PolyGeo's suggestion of the Feature Compare Tool on each combination of featureclasses in the sub-category, flagging the suspected duplicates.


You should probably also consider that there might be different versions of the same featureclass (eg, a newer version of the Roads database). So another test would be for duplicate schemas.

The Geodatabase Diagrammer might help to give an overview of the different featureclasses. You could also export to XML and parse the schema using your own script to find duplicate/similar schemas.

Still another idea is to throw this back to your users. "Archive" the existing bloated geodatabase and take it offline. Then ask your users which datasets they really need - make them come to you when a dataset they need isn't available.

You'll probably find that of the thousands of featureclasses, most aren't really necessary.

  • Checking for duplicate schemas is the icing on the cake for this answer as there are few other issues with data subsets and clips etc that I have found to be cluttering everything up so now I have a plan for these also. Cheers.
    – EnE_
    Aug 2, 2012 at 23:46

I would probably try using the Feature Compare tool from the Data Management toolbox within a Python script that does pair-wise comparisons between your feature classes. However, doing 1,000,000+ comparisons would be something to avoid so this will not be the whole answer.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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