Create a UML Profile of the Geodatabase for Geodatabase Design

10-29-2010 01:52 PM
Status: Open
Regular Contributor

It would be terrific to have a UML Profile of the Geodatabase for Geodatabase Design. Then one could use the UML tool of one's choice for Geodatabase Design (Enterprise Architect, etc) and not be locked into using Visio. Diagrammer is great, but it's an unsupported research project; and it can't be used to trace GDB items back to requirements and use cases.

Since the XML Schema of the Geodatabase can exhaustively describe everything in a geodatabase, a UML Profile of the Geodatabase should be possible in principle. Translators / translation code may be an issue. But since ArcCatalog can import and export XML Workspace Documents, I don't see why a UML Profile couldn't be developed that, if used, could generate valid XML Workspace Documents and thus be loaded into ArcCatalog for geodatabase instantiation. We really need something better for geodatabase design than what we presently have.

It may ultimately be up to the user community to develop a UML Profile of the Geodatabase. UML may be a bit too obscure / underadopted by the geodatabase design community for Esri to commit the resources to this. However, I agree with commentators in other places who bemoan the inability to use good CASE tools such as those that exist for relational database design--and the difficulty in communicating geodatabases with the wider community of  non-GIS IT folks like DBAs, Enterprise Architects, etc. A UML Profile of the Geodatabase, along with a way to provide full round-trip design, would go a long way toward integrating GIS into the broader bucket of Enterprise IT and beyond. GIS is growing up. Would love to see geodatabase design mature in step with this trend.


A) The key workflow must include all GDB components such as domains. Using a single GDB that has one of every data type and field, would be a great way to validate this tool is working correctly.

B) Use ability defines adoption. If the tool is made, please make sure it handles the extremely complex configuration issues that other ESRI tools seem to miss their first time out.
         - Handle relationship loops.
         - Handle multiple features with the same alias name.
         - Handle the export and import of domains, even if they do not appear assigned to a feature class. This is constantly overlooked.
         - Provide extremely simple logic to pull out the Schema, avoid putting in erroneous logical checks that are not documented or enforced anywhere else. 
         - Fix the XML export so it also follows this logic.


We really need better CASE tools than Visio 2003 and GDB XRay. Also to cover the issue of dealing with metadata (at least the abstract of the resource).


I'm helping organize a Special Interest Group at the 2011 Int'l UC to facilitate discussion about GDB modeling:

Geodatabase modeling and design SIG and survey at 2011 Esri Int'l UC

Description from UC agenda:

This Special Interest Group will discuss available and forthcoming GDB design tools, patterns, and emerging issues. The group will provide participants with an opportunity to communicate their database design and modeling requirements to Esri staff who will be present.”

Here's the link to the online agenda:

For more information visit:

Please take a minute to fill out the following survey:〈=en


Sparx Systems has recently released a beta ArcGIS UML profile. More information is available on my blog:

Also directly here:

As someone I deeply respect recently told me, "Enterprise GIS needs Enterprise tools." Voila. Sparx Systems would like user feedback and suggestions from Esri users on its beta profile. Please see the following:
For anyone interested, here's my write-up of the Geodatabase Modeling and Design Special Interest Group (SIG) event from the 2011 International UC:

A View of the Geodatabase Modeling and Design SIG Event at Esri’s 2011 International User Conference
Please use XMI fot this to ensure interoperability.

It would be very helpful if within ArcCatalog there is an option to visualize and create your featureclasses, featuredatasets, domains, subtypes and design like UML datamodel diagrams. I use ArcGIS diagrammer, it’s OK but it need lot of improvements. Currently anyone who wants to create a featureclass with domains/subtypes etc., has to do it arcCatalog by Create New Feature class option. But you cannot visualize how this feature class ties into an Enterprise Spatial Data. This can a GUI tool and be part of Administring Enterprise Geodatabase section. I would like to see the following scenarios being handled in the GDB modeling tool.

1) Creating New Feature class with Domains/Subtypes using a GUI. (If Domains and Subtypes are stored in a table with in Enterprise GDB and can be visualized in the GDB Modeling tool it will be solve conflicting issues like creating new Domains for any changed values etc) 
2) Creating relationship class between various datasets using GEDB modeling GUI.
3) Export the Geodatabase model at the Schema level to PDF, XML format. 
I really really support this wishes for having a UML management tool. I have to maintain an Enterprise GDB consisting of about 150 feature classes which all have various (standard) attributes in common. One big advantage of modeling GDBs with CASE Tools is that you can use inheritance, so I have to change only ONE class (the parent containing the standard attributes) and have all descendants updated. I never did the modeling with GP Tools, so I don't really know, if this is also possible using a python script, but with 10.1 lacking other possibilities I will try this now.

If I could I would promote this idea with more than ten points!
Sparx Systems has a non-beta ArcGIS UML Profile. This coming February 25th, 2014, they're offering a free webinar:

How to Design a Geodatabase with Enterprise Architect

"EA" is an affordable tool, ~USD $200. Well worth having a look since Esri has expressed no interest in natively supporting UML for GDB design.