At my company we are starting to get more serious about keeping track of changes to our geo-referenced data and maps. I'm looking into this and am wondering how people do it at other companies.

We have decades of historical data that is often suspect, and gets geo-referenced multiple times as new information comes to light. We want a document that is used for each transformation to record the source (coordiantes, topography, other map), projection, etc, etc. Our GIS team is 5 people and growing with 50 in house people accessing the data as well as outside organizations and government. At the moment we use Windows 7, ArcGIS Desktop 10.0, Geosoft Montaj, AutoCAD 2012, Microsoft Access '07, and Sharepoint, as our primary programs to make changes.

Is there an automatic logging program that records everything that was done during a session in Arc? Which would also keep track of projections and transformations, point creation, etc. Or is this thing best done in Notepad by hand?

Thanks for your feedback.

2 Answers 2


It sounds like at the core, you are talking about data lineage; where the data came from and what has been done to it by whom. This, I believe, is a perfect use case for good metadata, which is some circles is quite the nasty word. However, you can manually enter your data lineage directly in your metadata, which would work, but isn't an automated process. I guess what I'm trying to say is, use metadata for this purpose.

  • It sounds like the best record of changes one can keep is by hand. As changes are made, make a note, either in the metadata or in documents that the metadata references. I'm learning these tasks through doing (didn't learn it in school), so some of my background knowledge is lacking. We have a metadata tool through Geosoft, so maybe we'll adjust it to accept this data as we make changes. Thanks!
    – cndnflyr
    Oct 25, 2012 at 21:13

I don't think there is a single tool, and this won't help you at 10.0, but Editor Tracking which was new in 10.1 should meet some of your requirements.

Also, if you are interested in versioning of MXDs/LYRs then this is an ArcGIS Idea you may want to vote for.

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