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I'm using ArcMap 10.5.1. A client sent me a geodatabase (Project.gdb) and asked me to update/add shapefiles and information in the attribute tables. I can start Editing but shapefiles in the geodatabase don't come up in the Create Features box and I can't edit any of the attribute tables.

Is there something I have to do to "unlock" a geodatabase?

I am not accessing the geodatabase through any other programs - just ArcMap. When I look at the geodatabase files through Windows Explorer, my computer is the only one with a lock on it.

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    There are no shapefiles in a file geodatabase. They are two different formats, mutually exclusive. Esri uses the name "feature class" to genericize the naming of tables in FGDB and shapefiles. It is possible to compress a file geodatabase, making it read-only. An FGDB could also be read-only due to filesystem permissions. Please Edit the question to clarify if the FGDB offers the option to Uncompress (under Administration). – Vince Apr 23 at 22:14
  • Could you explain where to find the Uncompress under Administration? I could not find anything like that in the properties of the feature. – GISQ Apr 23 at 22:32
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    It's in the right-click context menu. – Vince Apr 23 at 23:11
  • My apologies I think I still need some directions. Right-click on what? – GISQ Apr 24 at 21:06
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Creating Features

Firstly, make sure that the layer in ArcMap is visible at all scales, and that it is on/visible. If the layer has a definition query, delete the definition query (this may not strictly necessary, but it is the easiest way to ensure that the definition query is not interfering).

Next, right-click on the layer in the table of contents and choose Edit Features -> Organize Feature Templates. Go through the process to make sure that the layer has feature templates created (ie, use the 'New Template' button at the top). It is these templates that appear in the Create Features window.

Editing Existing Features

As discussed in comments, if you only have a basic license, there are several limitations to your editing, including not being able to edit feature classes that participate in relationship classes. You can safely delete the relationship classes without affecting the data. But the client may need to be aware of this being done so that they can handle the data appropriately when it is returned to them (eg, re-create the relationship classes, or import the data back in to their original database).

  • This did help with creating new features! However I still cannot edit the attribute table? – GISQ Apr 23 at 22:32
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    Just to be clear, are you doing a right-click on the layer in the table, and then choosing 'Edit Features' -> 'Start Editing'? – Son of a Beach Apr 23 at 22:35
  • Yes I am, I think I found the problem though. The pop up that follows "Start Editing" with any warnings said that I was not licensed to edit layers with relationship classes. I hadn't noticed before bc I usually open editor from the toolbar, not the TOC. The features in this geodatabase are linked to one another so that different related features can share the same overall ID number etc. Is that what's stopping me from changing attributes? – GISQ Apr 23 at 22:44
  • So you have a choice: Delete the relationship class(es), and then you should be able to edit. But you will also not have the license to re-create the relationships afterwards. However, this should not prevent your client from using the data. They should be able to either re-import your data into their database that still has the relationships, OR they can re-create the relationships. Either way, you should discuss it with the client to make sure that they are aware of the ramifications. (I will add this to the answer for the sake of completeness). – Son of a Beach Apr 23 at 22:48
  • Similar issues will occur if they have topology rules due to Basic license limitations. So you might want to discuss this with client also. – danak Apr 24 at 16:31

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