Long Live the Shapefile

12-02-2017 07:27 PM
New Contributor II

Since the release of ArcGIS Pro my main challenge has been the inability to access my GIS data in Pro, from within Microsoft Access. Access is very popular in my environment (engineering/asset management) and has powerful capabilities to connect to both enterprise and local databases, along with robust yet simple tools for querying, reporting and automating.

This issue is actually a much broader issue than access. It's the inability to access an ESRI geodatabase from within a 3rd party software (without purchasing an ArcGIS Server license). ESRI has not provided a long requested ODBC for the FGDB; does not provide editing capabilities for sqlite (fully available in qGIS); has removed support for the PGDB format within Pro; to my best knowledge has removed support for editing a SQL-Express "desktop GDB" within Pro; and requires a server license for SQLServer/Oracle/PostGressql. Numerous "ArcGIS Ideas" relate to this issue and remain open (some links below).

It only recently occurred to me, that the shapefile actually does all of this! This simple and outdated format is accessible from basically any 3rd party software. Microsoft Access has even renewed support for the underlying  .dbf format , to a large extent at the requests of the GIS community (link below).

What I learn from this is the importance of open formats and the open source community. 

My messages to ESRI are two:

1. The importance of open formats. ESRI has provided the community with the .shp format, and its openness proves to be invaluable even today. Please don't leave the FGDB a silo. 

2. It seems that ESRI is focusing too much on the organizational level. My (huge) organization actually is based on the ArcGIS Eneterprise architecture; yet this platform is not typically accessible to end-users like myself for desktop analysis and development. But it is us, the end-users, who eventually drive the organization forward; it is our initiatives that grow into enterprise solutions, and we need powerful and flexible tools to do so.

Relevant "ArcGIS Ideas":

Provide an ODBC driver for the ESRI file geodatabase 



Microsoft Access (.accdb) Support in ArcGIS Pro 

Microsoft Access DBF Support is back


11 Replies
Regular Contributor

"When the world ends all that will be left are cockroaches and shapefiles"

Regular Contributor II

This has been an ongoing issue since the first release of Pro.  ESRI claims access is 32 bit, however there are 64 drivers out there.  MS is not supporting Access, but everywhere I search this is not the case.  Newer versions are in works.  Yet shapefiles are supported -- they are definitely not 64 bit.

I have not worked with Pro.  It is not installed because I refuse to convert my access databases into some incompatible format in terms of 90% of my other business functions outside of GIS.   To that end, I have been learning QGIS and at this time, have successfully ported 75% of my work over.  This is not by choice.  Peoples say that you can use SQL Express.  This is only true if you purchase ADDITIONAL LICENSING.  You are correct, QGIS works fine with SQL Express and have had good success with the experimental drivers with MS Access.

Please vote here:

Enable ArcGIS Pro to access ESRI Personal Geodatabases