Standalone Tables should be able to store and enable hyperlinks apart from being joined to a feature layer. By that I mean that the properties of both Feature Layers and Standalone Tables should have an option that would allow me to launch a hyperlink through a Relate Tree in the Identify tool and not just on feature class attributes or a joined (one-to-one/many-to-one) table's attributes. Hyperlinks have no real need for a feature to exist in order to function as proven by the entire Internet and every application on the market today other than ESRI's applications.
The current hyperlink implementaion means that feature layer joins limit associated tables with hyperlinks to having one record per feature in many unnormalized fields in order to accesss the multiple hyperlinks (i.e., one-to-one and many-to-one relationship from feature(s) to table). The Identify tool already supports a one-to-many and many-to-many display of table records related to a feature class, however the hyperlinks in the related tables cannot be triggered.
Just to show how painfully limiting this is, here are the work around options. The first work around is to create a duplicate of the table data and pivot many records into a single record. Pivoting data is no easy task to do in ArcGIS. I've done it, but I have to use a minimum of 10 geoprocessing tools to get it to happen correctly, many of which only work with an ArcInfo licence. The difficulties involved usually mean that most users who don't give up and need to do this relationship violating task will export their table data to Excel, pivot it there and import it back to ArcMap, That is a lame way to (not) support one-to-many and many-to-many relationships.
The other (worse) alternative is to copy the feature many times simply to enable multiple hyperlinks to appear within the Identify tool just to maintain a single hyperlink field that contains related hyperlinks (an even more difficult work around that also impacts redraw times and overall ArcGIS performance). Both work arounds violate the true one-to-many and many-to-many relationship that should be maintaned to represent reality and are entirely due to a needless limitation of enabling hyperlinks within a single row of a feature layer.
A related suggestion is for ESRI to provide an additional and separate option in the Layers and Standalone Table Property dialogs to enable hyperlinks to work from a Tableview field that is left-clicked outside of an edit session. This additional suggested Tableview option would demonstrate that ESRI is able to recognize that hyperlinks do not require a feature in order to work.
The above is only one of many examples of the extremely limited support (actually lack of support) ESRI provides for data that is best maintained and normalized in a one-to-many and many-to-many relationship. Getting ESRI's programmers to take on this task might actually lead them to finally get these invaluable reationships to have some real functionality in ArcGIS.
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