GDB, ESRI File Geodatabase

The 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 are becoming one of the most frequent formats used to publish spatial data for use by ESRI applications.   ESRI provides an SDK, a software library, to connect to ESRI file geodatabases for read/write access.   Manifold uses the ESRI SDK to connect to ESRI file geodatabases.   All required DLLs are included within Manifold installation packages.  There is no need to install anything extra to allow Manifold connections to ESRI file geodatabases.


The Manifold GDB Dataport is Read / Write


Many, but not all, applications which utilize ESRI's SDK to connect to file geodatabases are read/write.  Some are read-only.   The Manifold GDB dataport is fully read/write and allows Manifold to edit ESRI file geodatabases in place.  Manifold  includes numerous technical features to facilitate read/write use of ESRI file geodatabases without problems.  


The Manifold GDB dataport:



Limitations of the ESRI SDK:




Pass through of GDB to third party applications - When an ESRI GDB file geodatabase is connected as a data source within a Manifold project, that data source then becomes available to any third party application which connects to the Manifold .map project by using the Manifold ODBC driver.   This provides the ability to read/write ESRI file geodatabases even to those applications which on their own cannot connect to ESRI file geodatabases.   See examples cited below.


ESRI is not Manifold - When connecting to GDB we must be aware we are no longer using Manifold code but instead are using ESRI code.  ESRI products are in general high quality and there are many advantages to using ESRI's own code to connect to intricate ESRI formats such as GDB, since presumably ESRI's code can handle all the many internal and undocumented quirks of the format. One major disadvantage is that ESRI's code in general is not anywhere near as bulletproof as the Radian technology used in Manifold.  ESRI code can and does crash, so connections to GDB fall outside of Manifold's reputation for never crashing.  If we connect to GDB we are using an ESRI product, not a Manifold product, and as with any ESRI product we should not be surprised by crashes, unstable GDB behavior or other quality/stability issues that are very rare or unknown in Radian technology.




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

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.