Connecting MS Access to ArcGIS Pro

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02-21-2018 07:04 AM
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New Contributor II

I recently began using ArcGIS Pro as some of our clients have been requesting the change from ArcMap to Pro. We provide a MS Access file which previously was connected to a personal GDB. Its my understanding that Pro does not support personal GDB.

I've never used a ODBC. How would I link the data between MS Access and ArcGIS Pro? We will have users that will work only in ArcGIS and some in only MS Access. So I can't have the data read-only in either.

Any direction would be greatly appreciated!!

31 Replies
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Regular Contributor II

I am in the same predicament.  Please vote to re-enable MS Access personal geodatabses here Enable ArcGIS Pro to access ESRI Personal Geodatabases 

My only current work around is not to use Pro and stick with ArcMap/ArcGIS as long as possible.

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Esri Esteemed Contributor

I have seen that this topic is important to several people, but you have to keep in mind that the .mdb file format was replace in version 2007 of Access by a new file format with new features and enhancements: Which Access file format should I use? - Access .

Since the personal geodatabase has many limitations compared to the file of enterprise geodatabase (A comparison of geodatabase types—ArcGIS Help | ArcGIS Desktop / Types of geodatabases—ArcGIS Help | ArcGIS Desktop ), Esri has moved away from this format. It is not the future and I recommend you to reconsider the way you are working.

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New Contributor II

I am open to other methods, but I need recommendations to do so. We work with clients that have little to no experience with GIS so they want to be able to view their data in a user friendly program like Access. I want the data to be able to be viewed/edited in Access and viewed/edited/added/deleted in Pro.   Any suggestions? I understand a Pro to Access connection via personal GDB isn't going to be an option. 

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Esri Esteemed Contributor

If the end user looks at the data using Access, they will not be able to see any geometry. Normally a map can provide much much more information than a plain table. If those users don't have access to Desktop software, you could consider publishing the data in ArcGIS Online and configure a web and have a web app consume that web map. There are many configurable templates available to would enable the end user to benefit from the geography related to the information contained in the Access file / personal geodatabase.

Some steps involved in this process:

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New Contributor

I agree that maps are extremely helpful but don't discount the table information. In my case, I maintain a speed zone database with DFOs (distance from origin of a roadway... example, where I-10 enters Texas at El Paso =0.000 and where it leaves Texas at Houston = 879.499) which I use in conjunction with pre-established roadway layers to plot the speed zone lines. My data is much easier to maintain in Access because, when a speed zone is changed, I can run reports for a specific roadway and change out /delete the appropriate line(s) and then the next time I open my map, the layer is updated.

Also, I send the Access reports (not maps) to our consultants because speed zones are not established by physical location. They are established by control-section and mile point (which aren't relevant to the shape file except when I convert them to DFO (distance from origin) to map them.

In short, the map is useful for big-picture but I still need to maintain a file database to keep my records straight.  If there's a file database that is more compatible, please tell me and I'll see if I can get it (since our downloads are all controlled by our IT department, I can't simply download a free program). 

Any help would be appreciated. 

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New Contributor II

I know this conversation is a year old at this point, but thank you for making this point! I don't know why it is so hard for some spatial analyst to understand the importance of tabular data and manipulating it separately at times. My company has a very similar use case and we are considering migrating to avoid obsolescence if personal geodatabase support gets worse. We haven't switched to Pro yet because so much of our workflow happens in Access. I totally get the argument about long-term limitations of the personal geodb format, but not every use case is the same.

We have a VERY extensive reporting workflow that will take months to rebuild outside of Access. I think a lot of people forget that Access can be used to create full-fledge applications that are tough to move.

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Regular Contributor II

Don't matter which version ESRI chooses to support.  The biggest benefit that Access  pocesses, which overcomes all limitations, is its compatibility with all MS products and myriads of other third party products.  That is a benefit the file geodatabase cannot come remotely close to matching.  Since the File Geodatabase is not compatible with any other other product on the market outside of ArcGIS, it is useless to me.  GIS is a tool for me to manipulate and extrapolate data,  maps and geometry are only a small set of tool for me to get at that data by different methodologies.

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Esri Esteemed Contributor

Hi Ted Kowal , could you provide a description of a specific use case that best describes the need you have for Access? I'm trying to understand what kind of situations you are dealing with and if there could be a possible workaround. 

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Regular Contributor II

Currently I have the best of both worlds in the personal geodatabase, I can store the attributes and work with geometry from the same data store from any program I choose to use.  My excel, project managment, asset modeling management tools, ms office, load rating application (structural analysis programs many of them), inventory applications...many many more such tools and apps directly read the same ms access database.  There is no intermediate steps I have to do or make in order to use the data;  ONE Singular datastore for both GIS work and Atrribute/Data Analysis/Retrieval/Storage  (Does not matter matter to me if the MS Access is slower).  This is why I refuse to use the File Database, because I first have to import in the geometry, work with it (Yes I know it is much more faster and robust than the ms variant), then export the work back into something else my myraid of apps can read, if I made a wrong guess, re-export the data back into a file geo-database and repeat over and over until I got the correct results.  The GIS portion is only a step/tool in organizing my data needs.  In addition, for other external data they may be stored in enterprise location in Oracle, Paradox, and SQL Sever, again MS Access serves me as a middle broker that can reach out simultaneously query all those stores in one query -- again a one stop shop.   I am a structural engineer and GIS is only a tool for my work with DATA.

GIS use of data focuses on geometry, not the management and manipulation of data outside of geometry.  I do understand why thing like using stored procedures, user defined function ect are not exposed within ArcGIS and only limitly exposed in programming.  Why do I have to repeat and re-invent logic when it already resides in outside database and functions fine. -- Yes I can access stored procedures and pass paramater, and use user functions within Access -- File database does not.  And the final insult is some of the stuff I need to import to a file geodatabase, I first have to export to an old fashion shape file with to get the data into a file geodatabse, then deal with the data type, and field name limitations of the dbase III plus format (going both ways back and forth).    

Sorry, about the wall text this was not the intent for a simple question asked by the OP.  For that I apologize for this slight hijacking

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