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Help a Rookie Out!

05-15-2023 10:59 PM
New Contributor

Hello, I am looking for tips and tricks on best data management practices... how do you keep clean and organized data? I am a beginner with ArcGIS and I find it hard to keep my data organized and I know I'd save time and stress if I had some advice from the experts! Thanks in advance.

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2 Replies
MVP Esteemed Contributor

I mean, it really depends on the data and where it's at.

Having simple, clear folder names and consistent file structures is important for file-based data. If you use file geodatabases, don't be afraid to create more than one! Dumping all your layers into a single database can get unwieldy pretty quick.

If you're working with content in a Portal, using tagging and categorization is good as well.

If you're working with a team, work on creating a documented organization template that you can all follow for folder / file naming conventions, etc., so that nobody has to re-learn a system if they take on someone else's project.

- Josh Carlson
Kendall County GIS
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Occasional Contributor III

It depends in large part what your (work) situation is, where you get your spatial data and what control you have over those data, whether shapefiles, geodatabases, external services, etc.

Follow all file/folder naming rules. This link is a bit old but the rules still apply.

Consider organizing data under your control thematically such as Access (roads, trails, RR), Hydrography (rivers, lakes), Administration, etc., and stash these feature classes in their unique geodatabases (or folder if shapefiles). They can be further organized within geodatabase feature datasets (not the purpose of a feature dataset but can be a useful organization tool).  All feature classes in a feature dataset must be in the same coordinate system and will be forced as needed.

Take a few minutes to add and update basic metadata as needed.

Consider creating a structured group of layer files that you can easily add to Maps without having to search for their underlying data source each time. Be aware that when you open a Map in a Project a layer will (try to) display the current state of its data source.

Never assume that shapefile or geodatabase polygon or line/arc data that you download are free of geometry errors. I always run GP tool Repair Geometry on any data sources that I download even from “official sources”. Always.

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