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With the growing need for organizations to distribute their data in remote locations, geodatabase replication can help to manage the changes made between geodatabases in different locations. When working with distributed and remote geodatabases it is often asked, “What is the best method to create and setup replicas?”

Working over a WAN (wide area network) or the Internet in disconnected environments is often simplified by using a geodata service to create replicas and synchronize edits for replicas. Using the Create Replica from Server tool can be useful when needing to create replicas on smaller datasets, but because this tool processes the data and replica registration in one step, it may not be a good fit for larger datasets. What is a suitable workflow to follow when the datasets to be replicated are very large?

Due to the size of data it is often not possible to create the replica using a geodata service where the data is being created and transported to the relative replica geodatabase during this replica creation process. In these cases it is better to manually transport the data from the parent geodatabase to the child location and then register the replica with the register with existing data option. The option of replicating with a disconnected workflow by creating the replica and transporting using a geodatabase or an XML workspace document is another option. Keep in mind this XML file has the potential of being very large as it will contain the data and the replica registration.

It may be better just to copy the data to the remote location first, and then create the replica registration by using the Create Replica wizard saved to an XML document that uses the 'Register with existing data' option. Then, this XML document can be imported to the child geodatabase to finalize the replica registration (use the data option on the Import XML workspace document when importing to the child geodatabase.)

In this workflow there will be an example of first transporting the data to be replicated to the destination geodatabase and then creating the replica registration via a geodata and map service with the register with existing data option.


When using the register with existing data option during the replica creation, there are several things to keep in mind.
  • Geoprocessing tools like Create Replica from Server and Create Replica cannot be used with this option as it is only available in ArcMap via the Distributed Geodatabase toolbar.
  • There are several requirements or prerequisites for the data when using the 'Register with existing data option' during the replica creation / registration:
        • GlobalIDS must exist on the data that will be included in the replica prior to copying to the destination geodatabase.
        • The data must match exactly on parent and child geodatabase.
  • Please reference the Preparing data for replication and Replicas created with the option to register with existing data help topics for the tips section, which discusses important considerations.
  • Map services and geodata services must have their data sources registered as data stores prior to publishing. Please see the About registering your data with server help reference for more information about registering data stores.

Create/Register the Replica via a Geodata/Map Service

This workflow assumes that the data has previously been copied to the destination geodatabase and uses tools to register the data that are included in the replica to start tracking the changes between parent and child replica geodatabases. This data may already exist in both locations or can be easily transferred via database restore, etc. The steps use a map service to specify the exact datasets that will be registered within the replica and a geodata service component to communicate with the remote geodatabase to create/register the replica. Using the geodata enabled map service allows for the Distributed Geodatabase toolbar to become enabled to use the Create Replica tool with the register with existing data option.


  1. Copy data to the destination geodatabase and follow all the prerequisites for distributed data/replication.
  2. Register data stores for the geodatabase that the geodata and map services will be published from.
  3. On the parent geodatabase server, publish a geodata service. (Publishing a geodata service)
  4. On the parent geodatabase server, create a map document with the data that will be included in the replica and publish this as a map service. Note: Make sure to use the same name as the geodata service and place the map service in the same location as the geodata service.
    (Publishing a map service)
  5. On the child geodatabase server, browse to the GIS Servers and add the previously created map service to a new ArcMap document. On the Distributed Geodatabase toolbar, launch the Create Replica tool and create a replica using the specific replica type needed (for example, two-way).
  6. Within the ‘What do you want to replicate?’ section, select ‘Register with existing data only’.
  7. Select the local child geodatabase within the ‘Which geodatabase do you want to replicate data to?’ section.
  8. Provide the replica with a name.
  9. Optionally, select ‘Show advanced options for overriding replica defaults when I click next’ to change the geodatabase model to full or simple and to select the Spatial extent for the replica.

After this process completes, the Replica Manager can be accessed from parent and child replica geodatabases to ensure that the replica has registered properly. The geodata service can then be used to synchronize changes when needed.

Additional Resources

Check out the ArcGIS Resource center for help topics working with Geodatabase Replication and Distributed data to learn more about different scenarios of using replication based on your organization’s needs.Melissa J – Geodata Support Analyst
Esri Developer Network (EDN) licenses, Site License Agreements (SLAs), educational site licenses, and other license agreements require that the license files for ArcGIS for Server and ArcSDE enterprise geodatabases be updated upon or prior to expiration for continued use. In previous versions of ArcSDE, the Authorization section of the ArcSDE Post Installation Wizard performed the task of updating the license information for the geodatabase. Because there is no Post Installation Wizard for ArcSDE at version 10.1, this process has changed.

Below are the two methods for updating the ArcSDE enterprise geodatabase license for your organization – either before or after it has expired.

Update enterprise geodatabase license before it expires

To update the geodatabase license before it expires, you can apply a manual approach using the ArcSDE command line tools. The sdesetup –o update_key is a command line tool that can be used to update the license prior to expiration. You may be familiar with this tool if the license file was ever updated manually in previous versions. Keep in mind that many of the ArcSDE command line tools are being migrated into user interface tools and this process may change in future releases.
  • If ArcGIS for Server was previously authorized with the new license, simply reference the keycodes file using the sdesetup –o update_key command.
  • If you have not authorized ArcGIS for Server with the new ECP license number, please use the following steps:

1.    Obtain a valid ECP registration number from the Customer Care Portal.

2.   Use the Authorization portion of the ArcGIS Server Post Installation Wizard. This creates or updates the keycodes file with the new license information.

3.   Use the sdesetup –o update_key command, referencing the updated keycodes file. The keycodes files can be found in the directory similar to the following: C:\Program Files\ESRI\License\sysgen

Please see the ArcSDE Administration Commands reference that is included with the installation for specifics on this command. The sdesetup command line tools must be installed from the Customer Care Portal for your specific database type.

NOTE: These specific sdesetup commands are not included with the general ArcSDE command line tool install as they are specific to each RDBMS. See KB39857 - FAQ: Where are the ArcSDE administration commands at 10.1?

Below is an example of using the keycodes file with the sdesetup –o update_key command.sdesetup.png

Update enterprise geodatabase license after expiration

At version 10.1 a new prompt displays when an administrative user makes a database connection to a geodatabase that has an expired license. This prompt is the Update ArcGIS Server License dialog box. It accepts physical ECP files or the keycodes file from your ArcGIS Server installation.update_arcgis_license-300x130.pngIMPORTANT: Currently you will need to add a file extension onto the end of the keycodes file (.txt or .ecp).There is a bug logged for this:

NIM089984 - Update ArcGIS Server License tool for expired ArcSDE geodatabases does not accept keycodes file as valid input to update the geodatabase license.

Also, keep in mind if you are not the administrative user you will receive an error message to contact your geodatabase administrator to make the database connection and update the license for the geodatabase:not_admin-300x118.png


    • It is currently not possible to run the Update ArcGIS Server License tool if the license for the geodatabase is still valid.
    • At version 10.1 the sdesetup –o update_key option works to update the license for the enterprise geodatabase (–o install and –o upgrade options no longer work at this release).
    • At version 10.1 the command line tools still accept the full direct connect syntax for the –i parameter (e.g. sde:sqlserver:instance).
    • The Esri Customer Care Portal provides access to ECPXXXX registration numbers but not the physical authorization files (.ecp). It is recommended to use keycodes files when authorizing ArcSDE geodatabases.
    • Keycodes files can be found in the following directory: C:\Program Files\ESRI\License\sysgen
    • It is always recommended to use the keycodes file when possible. In the case of needing a physical .ecp file, use the Customer Care form: ArcSDE 10 Authorization Form(works for both versions 10.0 and 10.1).

Additional References:

How To: Update an Educational Site License or EDN license in an enterprise geodatabaseHow To: Update an Educational Site License or EDN license in a workgroup geodatabaseFAQ: Where are the ArcSDE administration commands at 10.1?How to get an authorization file or keycodes file for the new Create Enterprise Geodatabase tool at 10.1Melissa J. - Geodata Support Analyst
 An interview with ArcGIS Desktop analyst, and Parcel Editor / ArcPad specialist, Amy A.In our continuing series, "Getting to Know Esri Support", we interviewed Amy who is a support analyst for the Redlands, CA office. groups2-300x300.jpg
  • Office – Redlands, CA
  • Hometown – Cincinnati, Ohio / Claremont, California
  • ArcGIS Desktop Team – Parcel Editor and ArcPad
Support Services Blog: Welcome Amy! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what position you have within Support Services?Amy: My heart will always be in Cincinnati, Ohio, but we moved to Claremont, California when I was 11. Within Support Services, I am a Senior Desktop Support Analyst specializing in the Parcel Fabric. I am very close to my parcel fabric customers and consider many of them to be part of my extended family!SSB: What do you do as a Support Analyst?Amy: I support anything, and I mean anything, related to our Desktop product, but my specialities are the Parcel Editor and ArcPad.  My typical day consists of taking live calls, answering emails that come into support, and collaborating with my teammates in the Redlands and Charlotte offices. I spend a majority of my day working within the parcel fabric by helping customers migrate and use this technology. If you want to learn more about the parcel fabric visit our Resource Center - What is parcel editing?

I also attend the Land Records Meet Up, which is a virtual user group for all Land Record topics. This meeting series discusses new functionality, enhancements within the ArcGIS Ideas site, as well as technical support trends. Feel free to check this group out and join if you are interested.SSB: How did you get into GIS?Amy: As a Geography and Environmental Studies major, I heard about this little thing called GIS, so I thought it would be something I might need to know.  I took the class, got an internship doing GIS, got a job doing GIS, got another job working for a local county doing GIS and finally ended up at the source of everything GIS - Esri!SSB: What do you like best about being a support analyst?Amy: Talking to and helping our customers.  I feel that I live vicariously through my customers. I have customers from Newberry, SC, and all the way to Kodiak, AK, that I work with on a regular basis; some I am so close with they send me Christmas cards!SSB: How do you describe to family members and friends what you do for a living?Amy: It used to be easier to describe my job.  I would tell people that I draw lines and boxes on the computer.  Now I say that I help people use my company’s mapping software because if I get any more detailed than that, most of family and friends' eyes glaze over.SSB: What do you like to do when you’re not at the office? Amy: Grabbing the dogs, IMG_0059-150x150.jpgfiIMG_0163-150x150.jpgshing poles, packing up the Jeep, and heading out! I have a Cocker Spaniel / Rottweiler mix named Sammy and another mix breed named Billie that love to go with us for rides in the jeep.Amy was interviewed by Melissa J - Geodata Support Analyst
The Esri Support Services department piloted its own GeoMentoring program in 2009 to help increase geographic awareness and geoliteracy, and has been participating each year in local schools. The eighth grade science classes at a middle school in Concord, North Carolina were identified as an ideal site for GeoMentoring, as they have a strong technology focus. In November 2012, to help celebrate GIS Day, a variety of team members from the Esri East Coast Support Center in Charlotte, NC participated as GeoMentors in our latest school visit.

The GeoMentoring activities took place over the span of three days where Esri Support staff worked with 110 middle school students. The three day event included a combination of lecture materials on GIS, a field geocaching activity, an interactive exercise, and a lab component utilizing core ArcGIS software. Lecture content included discussions on geography, GIS, and the history and many uses of the technology as an aid in everyday decision making and planning.

A map of the GPS tracks that students
made during the geocaching field activity.


A map of the GPS tracks that students
made during the geocaching field activity.

The first day was a bit colder than some had anticipated as we made our way outside for our field activities in geocaching. Students were given GPS devices after a quick crash course in usage from their mentors and sent out to roam the school campus to traverse between waypoints. This was a fun way to incorporate GIS into an activity they could learn from including geographic concepts of cardinal direction, distance, and spatial awareness. Rounding up 110 middle schoolers proved challenging as some had ideas of running between waypoints to keep warm! Each waypoint or cache included a container with a geography question, which provided students an opportunity to collaborate with teammates in answering these geographic questions.

Students participated in an interactive river dam activity as well as lab exercises. These two exercises helped to understand and discuss how GIS is used to guide and make educated planning decisions. The lab exercises consisted of students importing the GPS tracks, using basic GIS functions such as overlaying and symbolizing, and interacting with standard tools within ArcMap.

Students really enjoyed and took hold of this activity, using their creativity to develop unique maps with a wide array of colors and symbolization for waypoints and GPS tracks. Everything from caution cones to skull and cross bones were used!

A group of students locating a cache
during their outside geocaching activity.

Throughout these three days in working with the teams, the students took the opportunity to ask questions, and were very interactive in sharing their existing knowledge on geography. Support Services plans on continuing the GeoMentoring program as this gives Esri team members additional opportunities to interact with GIS outside of the office, and it gives local schools exposure to geography and the ability to learn what GIS is and how it can relate to their everyday life.Melissa Jarman - Geodata Support Analyst
A lot of changes were made at ArcGIS for Desktop 10.1 regarding database connections within the client software. The ‘Add Spatial Database Connection’ dialog is renamed to  ‘Add Database Connection’, and new functionality is added, allowing connections to enterprise geodatabases and other supported databases.

At the 10.1 release, we introduced support for the Oracle Easy Connect string when making these connections. This is a simpler Oracle naming method connect string that you can use within the Instance parameter of your Database Connection properties. The Easy Connect naming method eliminates the need for service name lookups in the tnsnames.ora file for TCP/IP environments.  No naming or directory systems are required if you use this method.

The Oracle Instant Client is a lightweight manual install. You can obtain the Oracle Instant, Runtime, or Administrator Client from Oracle and install the client on the client computer, following the directions in your Oracle documentation. It is comprised of the minimum required files necessary for making database connections using an Esri Client; however, it does not contain any executables or configuration/migration tools.

The setup process is quick:
  1. Unzip the downloaded contents into a directory.
  2. Add the location of the Oracle Instant Client directory within the system path environment variable.
    1. Example: c:appinstantclient_11_2
  3. Test out a new database connection in ArcCatalog.
    1. You can also test the connection in the Catalog window in ArcMap.


  • For making database connections within ArcGIS for Desktop, use the 32-bit Oracle Instant Client.
  • For using the Easy Connect string with other Oracle clients, make sure the sqlnet.ora file has EZCONNECT specified within the NAMES.DIRECTORY_PATH parameter (the Instant Client does not include this file by default).
  • Make sure the database instance is configured for EZCONNECT.

Making database and geodatabase connections at 10.1 just got a little easier - happy connecting!


Melissa J. - Geodata Support Analyst
With the changes in how new enterprise ArcSDE geodatabases are created in ArcGIS 10.1, I wanted to share a few tips on how to authorize your geodatabase when it is created, when it is upgraded, and when your license has expired.

Before version 10.1, the Post Installation Wizard allowed you to authorize enterprise geodatabases with an authorization file or by using   the ECP registration number from the Customer Care   Portal. If the registration number was used, the Post Installation Wizard had an option to register online, which validated the registration number with your customer information and populated the necessary system tables. At the 10.1 release, the Create Enterprise Geodatabase and Enable Enterprise Geodatabase tools  require the .ecp file or the keycodes file for authorization.

Creating New Geodatabases

At ArcGIS 10.1, two new tools have been added to the Geodatabase Administration toolbox: Create Enterprise Geodatabase and Enable Enterprise Geodatabase. The Create Enterprise Geodatabase tool performs the geodatabase administrator creation, geodatabase  creation, and authorization functions previously performed through the  ArcSDE for SQL Server, Oracle, and PostgreSQL Post Installation wizards  on Windows.

TIP: Within the Customer Care Portal you have access to the ECP registration number, but this format of the license information is not a valid input for the Create Enterprise Geodatabase tool. If you are an ArcSDE administrator and have been using ArcSDE for several releases you may be wondering where to get the correct file format for these new tools at 10.1. You'll need to authorize ArcGIS Server first and use the keycodes file, or obtain a physical .ecp authorization file.

The Create Enterprise Geodatabase and Enable Enterprise  Geodatabase tools' Help documentation gives a summary of what is needed for the  authorization file and the path that can be used to locate the keycodes file.

Examples of valid input for the Authorization File field in this tool include the keycodes file within the ArcGIS for Server Enterprise directory and the physical .ecp authorization file.


NOTE: You must have authorized ArcGIS Server to create the keycodes file ahead of time!

Upgrading Existing Geodatabases

If there is a valid license in the geodatabase when upgrading (Upgrade Geodatabase tool), you will not be prompted for this information. If the license has expired, you will be prompted to navigate to a valid license to update the database tables.

Expired Enterprise Geodatabase License

In the case of an expired geodatabase license, the geodatabase administrator is prompted with an Update ArcGIS Server License dialog box when making a database connection.


This tool guides you through updating the ArcSDE enterprise geodatabase license if it has expired. This populates the database server_config table with the updated license information.

Previous Tools from the Customer Care Site

The ArcSDE and ArcIMS Authorization Form on the Esri Customer Care site can still be used to convert your registration numbers to physical .ecp files if this is preferred; however, the keycodes file can be used interchangeably with the .ecp file.

Helpful Links

ArcGIS 10.1 for Server Enterprise Quick Start Guide (Including ArcGIS 10.1 Spatial Data Server and ArcSDE 10.1)  > See the Authorize ArcSDE section

Melissa J. - Geodata Support Analyst
You may have already noticed some of the changes at 10.0 with the upgrade process for ArcSDE geodatabase no longer using the Post Installation wizard. This was discussed in an earlier blog written on "The Evolution of the ArcSDE Geodatabase Upgrade Process at 10.0". The ArcSDE Post Installation Wizard has made its grand exit and is no longer installed as part of ArcSDE at 10.1. Let’s take a look at the Post Installation steps and compare with the new geoprocessing tools that were created at 10.1 to perform similar tasks.

Post Installation Wizard Steps (Pre 10.1)

  • Define SDE User Environment/Define Database and SDE DBA User
  • Repository Setup
  • Authorize ArcSDE
  • Create ArcSDE Service

New Geoprocessing tools within Geodatabase Administration Toolbox at 10.1

image004.gifThe following geoprocessing tools are within the Data Management Tools > Geodatabase Administration toolbox at 10.1:Create Enterprise Geodatabase – Create a database and geodatabase administrator in PostgreSQL or SQL Server and enable enterprise geodatabase functionality in it, or create a tablespace and geodatabase administrator in an existing Oracle database and enable enterprise geodatabase functionality in it. This tool also authorizes the software.image0061.jpgEnable Enterprise Geodatabase – Enable geodatabase functionality in an existing DB2, Informix, Oracle, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server database. This tool also authorizes the software.image0082.jpg

Application Server Services

With the Post Installation Wizard no longer part of the ArcSDE install at 10.1, this also means that there is no wizard to create ArcSDE services. The ArcSDE install includes the application server along with command line tools.  If there is a need for an application server service at the 10.1 release, one can be manually created and registered (depending on DBMS) using the ArcSDE administration commands. See the ArcSDE Administration commands to reference the sdeservice commands.image0101.jpgMelissa J. - Geodata Support Analyst

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