Example: Convert an ESRI Personal Geodatabase into a .map Project

This topic shows how to convert data in ESRI's legacy personal geodatabase format into a  Manifold .map project in a single step.

 

ESRI's personal geodatabase format is the original ArcGIS "geodatabase" format.  Data in a personal geodatabase is stored and managed in Microsoft Access .mdb files, and thus subject to all the limitations and inconveniences of .mdb format in a 64-bit world.  Personal geodatabases are limited to 2 GB,  with performance typically degrading between 250 MB and 500 MB.  

 

ESRI users seem to agree that personal geodatabases as a format are on their way out, being replaced by file geodatabases.   Manifold users will want to convert their personal geodatabases into either Manifold .map projects for immediate, high-speed use or into ultra-compact Manifold .mxb archive files for archival storage and exchange.

 

Lucky for us, Manifold's Export  capability can convert an entire ESRI personal geodatabase into a .map or .mxb project in a single step.   

 

We will illustrate export of a personal geodatabase containing information on New York city in the United States published by Baruch College.   Non-profit organizations using the free Manifold Viewer for analytics can more easily access this data in .map or .mxb form, which the license for the data allows.

 

The "geodatabase" consists of a Microsoft Access .mdb file called nyc_gdb_july2017.mdb.   

Launch Manifold in 32-bit Mode

ico_nb_arrow_blue.png  Important:  If we are running a 64-bit Windows operating system we must launch Manifold in 32-bit mode so we can link the .mdb Access database into Manifold without having to worry if our particular Windows installation has been retrofitted to talk to Microsoft .mdb.    See the discussion in the MDB Files in 64-bit Windows essay.  

 

Link the Personal Geodatabase as a Data Source

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_01.png

 

We launch Manifold in 32-bit mode and choose File - Link.  

 

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We navigate into the folder that holds the nyc_gdb_july2017.mdb file.   We click on the nyc_gdb_july2017.mdb file and choose Link.

 

There is no need to specify the file type since the Manifold dataport for .mdb automatically swings into action.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_03.png

 

A new data source called nyc_gdb_july2017 appears in the project.  

Export the Data Source

We click on the + box by the name of the data source to expand the data source, to see the many drawings and tables that are stored in the geodatabase.    Next, we Right-click onto the nyc_gdb_july2017 data source.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_04.png

 

From the context menu that appears we choose Export.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_05.png

 

In the Export dialog, we can choose between .map, .mml and .mxb formats.  .mml is a specialized format used for development.   .mxb is a compressed, archival form of .map format.   .map is regular Manifold .map format.  If we want to export to a .map file we choose MAP Files as the type.   We provide a name for the new .map file and we press Export.   Done!

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_06.png

 

In the Export dialog, if we want to export to an .mxb file we choose MXB Files as the type.   We provide a name for the new .mxb file and we press Export.   Done!

 

We can see a new .map project has been created by opening the newly-created .map file.  

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_07.png

 

In a new, blank Manifold session, which could be 64-bit Manifold running in 64-bit Windows,  we choose File - Open.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_08.png

 

We navigate to where we saved our .map and, if we also exported it, our .mxb files.   We click on the .map and choose Open.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_09.png

 

The .map project opens instantly, and we see that the export process did, indeed, convert all of the nyc_gdb_july2017.mdb personal  geodatabase content into a single, high-performance .map project.     In the illustration below we have used Style to color the areas in the a_greenspace Drawing using the OBJECTID field.  We have also added a Bing satellite layer below the drawing layer.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_09a.png

 

If we had opened the Manifold .mxb archive, we would have reconstituted the above project as well.   The only difference would be that the .mxb would not open instantaneously as does Manifold's everyday working format, .map.

Operational File Sizes Compared

We can compare file sizes when storing the same spatial data in ESRI form or Manifold form.

 

eg_convert_esri_pers_gdb_map01_10.png

The personal geodatabase in native ESRI personal geodatabase format, ready for use within ArcGIS, occupies about 67 MB and requires one file.  It also requires use of 32-bit software or use of Microsoft's special retrofitting of 64-bit Windows using software that clashes with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft MDB format is also famously fragile.

 

Converted to a .map the spatial data occupies about 110 MB, roughly 40% larger than the original ESRI file geodatabase, but ready for use in 32-bit or 64-bit software.  The .map file, of course, is also fully parallel Radian technology delivering speed many times faster than possible with Microsoft .mdb format, while being famously bulletproof.

Archival File Sizes Compared

Manifold's MXB archive and exchange format has been designed to compress Manifold projects as good as or better than zip technology.    When converting a personal geodatabase into a Manifold project the resulting .mxb archive file will usually be significantly smaller than a zip file containing the personal geodatabase in Microsoft Access .mdb format.   With file geodatabases a zipped geodatabase will often be about the same size as an equivalent .mxb archive file or even slightly smaller.

 

In the case of the nyc_gdb_july2017.mdb personal geodatabase, when the .mdb is zipped the zip file requires 29 MB.    The equivalent Manifold .mxb file is about 27 MB, slightly smaller, a typical result.  

 

Notes

ESRI Geodatabase Formats - ESRI products utilize three forms of "geodatabase" format for storing spatial data:

 

 

 

 

Manifold can link into a project as a data source all of the above three ESRI geodatabase formats.

 

Viewer is Free - Manifold Viewer provides a free viewer to explore and to analyze sophisticated databases.   Although Viewer is perfectly capable of connecting to the above three different forms of ESRI geodatabases, it makes way more sense to publish such data in the form of .mxb files for people who are using Viewer.     

 

See Also

File - Export

 

File - Export Project

 

File - Link

 

Example: Convert an ESRI File Geodatabase into a .map Project

 

Example: Connect to an ESRI GDB File Geodatabase - Connect Manifold to an ESRI GDB file geodatabase, display the contents, make a selection in the GDB and overlay in a map.

 

Example: Connect to an ESRI GDB usng GDAL/OGR  -  Instead of using Manifold's built-in ability to connect to modern ESRI GDB file geodatabases, use the Manifold GDAL/OGR dataport to take advantage of the GDAL library's ability to connect to deprecated GDB formats.

 

Example: Connect LibreOffice Through Manifold to an ESRI GDB - A companion example topic to the Example: Connect Through Manifold ODBC to a Third Party  topic.  Shows how to connect LibreOffice Base, the database part of LIbreOffice, through Manifold to link an ESRI GDB file geodatabase table into LibreOffice.