I am attempting to add a line bearing attribute column to my shapefile in ArcMap. I'm using the Add Geometry Attributes tool to accomplish this. Running this tool is successful, however when I inspect the attribute table, no new fields are added. If I repeat the process, the tool runs successfully again, but this time with a warning:

WARNING 001097: BEARING already exists -- overwriting.

Again, there is no new attribute table field for line bearing.

This is not an issue to my specific dataset. Any polyline shapefile I try this on gets the same result.

If you have experienced this problem, how did you solve it?

  • Does one of your existing fields perhaps have BEARING as an alias or are you perhaps viewing alias names when the accompanying field name for one of them is BEARING?
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 16 '19 at 21:48
  • No, just an FID field and a few other attributes, none of which are named BEARING
    – Wincow
    Sep 16 '19 at 21:50
  • 1
    If you close ArcMap and open it again, can you see the new field then? Sep 17 '19 at 0:21
  • Works OK for me in ArcMap 10.7.1 (I get the same error the second time I run it, but I can see the field both times). Which version are you using? How are you viewing the attributes table? If you examine the properties of the shapefile (or the layer) does the new field show up in the fields list in the "Fields" tab? Sep 17 '19 at 0:30
  • I tried closing it and opening it yesterday, with no luck. However doing it today caused the fields to appear. Nothing wrong with the tool or data, just a weird error.
    – Wincow
    Sep 17 '19 at 15:31

This was solved. The tool ran fine, but the fields weren't displaying in the attribute table. I had to quit out and restart the application. However, this didn't work at first; I had to wait a day and try opening the application again for the fields to appear. If you're encountering this issue and quitting/restarting doesn't work, it may work after some time has passed, or restarting your computer entirely.


I get this type of error often -- it is very frustrating. Sometimes the tool works Ok if background processing is turned off in Geoprocessing Options, but other times it does not, with one message in the Geoprocessing results saying

TypeError: cannot add field: 'POLY_AREA'.

I have tried, with background processing turned off :

  1. run Create Feature Class tool to create a polygon shapefile in British National Grid with M and Z disabled.

  2. run Check Geometry tool on blank shapefile, giving "cannot find spatial index" for OBJECTID, FEATURE_ID -1.

  3. edit new shapefile to add two polygons

  4. run Add Geometry Attributes, perimeter in metres, area in hectares -- SUCCEEDED!
  5. delete POLY_AREA and PERIMETER fields
  6. turn off background processing
  7. run Add Geometry Attributes -- claims to have succeeded, but no fields are added to attribute table
  8. turn off background processing again and re-run Add Geometry Attributes tool. Failed to execute, with TypeError: cannot add field: 'POLY_AREA' (whether or not with coordinate system specified.
  9. run Add Geometry Attributes tool requesting only perimeter. Failed to execute, with TypeError: cannot add field: 'PERIMETER'

I hope this helps someone make sense of what is going on 'behind the scenes'.

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