I've recently started creating SQLite geodatabases using ArcGIS 10.2 for Desktop with both ST_GEOMETRY and SPATIALITE storage data types and was impressed by how easy this was to do.

I then tried to Start Editing them from ArcMap only to be blocked by an error:

No editable layers.

and a warning

The workspace containing this data cannot be edited.

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I looked and could not find this limitation mentioned anywhere, and originally mistook it as SQLite being read-only to ArcGIS for Desktop.

Is the non-editability of SQLite within ArcMap edit sessions documented anywhere?

3 Answers 3


It's not strictly read-only access. You can load data via copy/paste and import into a SQLite or SpatiaLite database. Tables and feature classes can be appended to using append or Load Data.

You can edit the SQLite/SpatiaLite data via code as Insert/Update/Delete are supported.

What you can't do is open an edit session in ArcMap.

  • Thanks for clarifying and documenting that here Lance and it is great to have your authority behind it. Please do not be offended that I am about to remove your signature, which we do here because every post you make is already signed by your user card which is the ideal place for it. If you want to also document this in the Help then perhaps this would be a suitable place: desktop.arcgis.com/en/desktop/latest/manage-data/databases/…
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 24, 2015 at 21:35

In the documentation, it is alluded to that you cannot edit data in a SQLite database from ArcMap:

You can connect from ArcGIS to an SQLite database to create maps and perform spatial analysis on your data.

However, the only place this appears to be explicitly stated by Esri is in the ArcGIS Discussion Forum:

Yes; you cannot edit data in a SQLite database from ArcMap.

  • 3
    Wow. That's pretty disheartening. I got a little excited when I heard "support for SQLite" in the list of what's new at 10.2. Nice how it never really says that it's read-only access. Sep 23, 2013 at 13:48
  • 2
    The 10.2 mobile apis (iOS, Android, and Windows) use SQLite under the hood for disconnected editing. But they're able to control that database so that it behaves like a file geodatabase. That's harder to do with a SQLite database in the wild.
    – raykendo
    Sep 23, 2013 at 13:55
  • 3
    After some test the only way to "create" features using ArcGIS Desktop I found is to copy&paste a feature class from an ArcGIS format (ex: File Geodatabase) to the sqlite database.
    – Luca Palli
    Sep 24, 2013 at 19:43

It's not a good solution but it could be workaround if you got a license: edit Spatialite or GeoPackage database is OK in ArcGIS Pro (tested on 2.7.3).

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