I have a feature class which has coded value domain associated with it. The code and the description are different. For example, I have coded value domain for pipe diameter. For pipe diameter of 8" I have assigned coded value 1. Now, when I convert the feature class to shapefile I understand that it assigns the coded value not the description.

I know that I can convert those values using field calculator but I have 20 coded values. It will take considerable amount of time to do this operation.

Is there a script/tool that I can use which can assign description not the coded value for that attribute column when converting from FC to SHP?

  • create a csv file with the 20 codes and the descriptions - do a join on based on the codes and then update the description field in the shapefile dis-join the field and the description remains populated.
    – Mapperz
    May 3, 2011 at 17:25
  • Thanks for the reply. This sounds like a much faster solution.
    – Raj
    May 3, 2011 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


Probably the easiest way to accomplish this is to use the Domain to Table tool to convert the domain into a DBF table, join the domain table to the featureclass, then export the joined tables to shapefile, which will preserve both the original attributes and the joined description.

If you need to replicate this task often, consider turning this process into a ModelBuilder tool and turn it into a nearly one-click tool.


An easy way to do this using ArcGIS 10 is:

  1. Open fc table in ArcMap and select all features.
  2. Right click on any of the selected rows and choose the 'Copy Selected' option.
  3. Open up excel, select the top left tab, right click select 'Paste', then save xls file.
  4. Turn off all fields in shp except for unique ID field.
  5. Export fc to shp.
  6. Load shp and xls into ArcMap, and join xls to shp by unique ID field.
  7. Export joined shp to new shp.

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