GDB, ESRI File Geodatabase, Old Format

TThe well-known American GIS company ESRI utilizes several different "geodatabase" formats for data, in three main types:  

 

 

 

 

File geodatabases are recommended by ESRI over personal databases and, in the new format, are becoming one of the most frequent formats used to publish spatial data for use by ESRI applications.  Old format file geodatabases are rarely encountered.  ESRI provides an SDK, a software library, to connect to new format ESRI file geodatabases for read/write access.   Manifold uses the ESRI SDK to connect to new format ESRI file geodatabases.   

 

Manifold Includes New Format ESRI File Geodatabase Capability, not Old Format

 

Launching Manifold always includes ESRI file geodatabase capability for new format.   There is no need to install anything extra to allow Manifold connections to new format ESRI file geodatabases.   To connect to old format file geodatabases, Manifold uses the optional GDAL OpenFileGDB driver.

 

GDAL/OGR is an open source library for reading many different GIS formats.   Manifold does not install GDAL/OGR automatically, but it is easy to download and install if we want to use it.    GDAL includes an older, reversed engineered, non-ESRI module that usually can read the older format and get much, often all, of the information it contains.

 

ico_nb_arrow_blue.png  To use GDAL or OGR we must install GDAL in Windows, and then we can use it from Manifold.  If we do not install GDAL, we will not be able to use the capabilities described in this topic. See the the GDAL / OGR topic for installation instructions. The Manifold GDAL dataport allows working with GDAL 2.0.x, 2.1.x or 2.2.x and automatically selects the latest version available with automatic adjustments for the call interface.

 

The GDAL GDB Driver is Read Only.

 

The GDAL OpenFileGDB driver can read ESRI file geodatabases but it cannot write them.

 

Advantages of the GDAL GDB Driver:

 

 

Limitations of the GDAL GDB Driver:

 

 

Manifold reads/writes to modern ESRI GDB file geodatabase format but does not read the older, obsolete form.  GDAL includes an older, reversed engineered, non-ESRI module that usually can read the older format and get much, often all, of the information it contains.

 

ico_nb_arrow_blue.png  To use GDAL or OGR we must install GDAL in Windows, and then we can use it from Manifold.  If we do not install GDAL, we will not be able to use the capabilities described in this topic. See the the GDAL / OGR topic for installation instructions. The Manifold GDAL dataport allows working with GDAL 2.0.x, 2.1.x or 2.2.x and automatically selects the latest version available with automatic adjustments for the call interface.

 

Use GDAL from Manifold to Import an "Old" GDB

We will import an "old format" GDB that is no longer supported by ESRI's SDK, but which is supported by the legacy GDB code in GDAL/OGR.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_08a.png

 

We launch Manifold.   In the main menu choose File - Create - New Data Source.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_08.png

Choose a Name as desired and a Type of File: gdal.  Whether or not we check Open as read-only the resulting data source will be read-only.  We un-check the Saved cached data between sessions box, to keep our project size smaller should we choose to save the project.   Click the [...] browse button.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_09.png

 

In the resulting Select File dialog we browse over the folder where our gdb file is located.    File geodatabases are usually stored in folders that contain many files so the gdb file may not be easy to find.  

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_10.png

 

We simply enter gdb into the dialog's File name box, as seen above, since we know from experience working with ESRI GDB that there is only one file with that name.  Press Open.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_12.png

 

Back in the New Data Source dialog we verify everything is as we want and then we click Create Data Source.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_13.png

 

Manifold swings into action and, like magic, a new data source appears in the project using the name we specified.  We can expand the new data source to see what it contains, in this case a drawing and its table.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_14.png

 

Double-clicking the drawing opens it.   It looks like any other drawing, but it is being brought in from an "old format" ESRI file database using the GDAL/OGR library.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_15.png

 

To make a local, fully writable copy of the drawing we can Ctrl-click the drawing and then Ctrl-click the  drawing's table to highlight both the drawing and the drawing's table and then click the Copy button in the Project pane's toolbar.   More keyboard-centric users often prefer to highlight and then do a Ctrl-C to Copy

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_16.png

 

Clicking anywhere in the project outside of the data source, we can do a Ctrl-V to Paste or press the Paste button in the Project pane's toolbar.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_17.png

 

If we double-click the pasted drawing to open it we see it is, of course, identically the same drawing that was copied from the data source.   But this copy of that drawing is local to the project and is fully writable.

 

eg_gdb_gdal01_18.png

To delete the data source, we can click on the data source and then press the Delete key or click the Delete icon in the Project pane's toolbar.   We now have the drawing that was in the "old format" ESRI geodatabase imported as a local drawing into our Manifold project.  We can use the Style pane to format the drawing.  Now would be a good time to save the project.

 

Notes

GDAL is not Manifold - When connecting to GDB using GDAL/OGR we must be aware we are no longer using Manifold code but instead are using GDAL code.  GDAL modules have been created over many years by different people and have varying quality, but GDAL has earned a good reputation.  It is a tremendous advantage to use GDAL's very broad reach of modules from Manifold to connect to many niche or nearly-extinct formats, and GDAL does a great job at that.    However, GDAL's code in general is not as bulletproof as the Radian technology used in Manifold.  Connections using GDAL fall outside of Manifold's reputation for never crashing.  

 

Videos

Manifold Viewer - View GDB Faster than ArcGIS Explorer - ESRI's ArcGIS Explorer product is a free viewer that allows ESRI people to view ESRI GDB Geodatabases, along with other data.  Unfortunately, ESRI has stopped producing Explorer and has replaced it with ArcGIS Earth, which cannot connect to and display ESRI GDB Geodatabases.  The video compares Explorer to Viewer side-by-side so ESRI users can see that if they need to continue viewing GDB Geodatabases for free they can reliably use Viewer for fast, high quality GDB viewing.

 

See Also

GDAL / OGR

 

GDB, ESRI File Geodatabase

 

Example: Create an ODBC Data Source with Windows - How to create an ODBC data source (a DSN) using dialogs built into Windows 10.

 

Example: Connect to Manifold from Release 8  - Step by step procedure to connect from Manifold System Release 8 to a Manifold .map file using Manifold's ODBC driver.

 

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 Through Manifold ODBC to a Third Party  - With Release 8, use an ODBC connection to a Manifold .map to connect through the .map project to a third party, external data source, an ESRI GDB file geodatabase.  We use Manifold facilities as an intermediary to give Release 8 capabilities it does not have on its own, to link into data stored within an ESRI file geodatabase.

 

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.