Tips and tricks for sending data to ESRI Support Services

06-19-2009 12:42 PM
by Anonymous User
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 How to make subsets of Vector and Raster data in order to receive a faster resolution

Howdy Y’all! My name is Allison R., and I’m a Technical Lead for the Charlotte Support Center. I just wanted to say 'Hi' to everyone and post some helpful tips and tricks. When an ESRI Support analyst requests your data in order to test your process in-house, they are doing two things: checking to see if they can reproduce the reported behavior, and getting a process together that can be used to log a bug or enhancement request, if necessary.

Now some of you might be thinking, “Send my Data!! It is huge, that would take all day!” Well, I have a few tips and tricks I want to share with you that will help an ESRI Support analyst receive your data faster, review your steps more quickly, and get back to you in a flash.

    • Only send the amount of data necessary in order to reproduce the behavior you are reporting

What does that mean? Pare down your data to the smallest amount of data needed in order to reproduce the behavior you are reporting. Now, if you’re wondering how to do that let me give you some tips:


    1. If the feature class has hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of features, try exporting a small subset of the dataset. This can be done in ArcMap by selecting a few features, right-clicking on the name of the feature class in the table of contents > Data > Export Data, and then exporting the data into a new database.


  1. If the feature class has a lot of fields in the attribute table, then remove anything that is not necessary for testing. Fields in a feature class’s attribute table can cause the size of a feature class to increase dramatically. Here is another great reason to do this: if the tool or process that is being reported requires that a Support analyst pick specific fields, removing the unnecessary fields will ensure the correct fields are picked by the Support analyst. I have seen a lot of data with similar field names, and they can get really confusing! You can remove the extra fields quickly and easily by using the ‘Delete Field’ tool in ArcToolbox. Delete Field is located in Data Management Tools > Fields, and can be used to remove large quantities of fields at once.

    • Only send the data necessary in order to reproduce the behavior you are reporting

Sometimes our Support analysts get entire geodatabases or receive a lot of additional unnecessary data that does not relate to the behavior reported. This can be confusing for analysts (imagine looking at a geodatabase with dozens of tables, dozens of feature datasets, and hundreds of feature classes, when you only need to input two feature classes into a tool). Also, this can cause the size of the data to be HUGE! If ESRI Support analysts are provided with only the necessary data, it is smaller to transport and easier to understand. Here are some ideas to help make sure you send the smallest data possible:


    1. Put only the data that you need to send to ESRI Support Services in a new geodatabase. Geodatabases can house a lot of feature classes, tables, feature datasets, complex datasets and more. When sent an entire geodatabase that contains additional elements not needed to reproduce the behavior being experienced, the Support analyst may have trouble finding the features, tables and other elements involved in the behavior. Remember: your analyst doesn’t know your data like you do, so the more you send the more review the analyst has to do before working on reproducing the reported behavior. If you need to send an analyst complex feature classes such as topology, you don’t have to rebuild this, just make a copy of the geodatabase and delete everything that is not needed.


  1. By limiting the amount of data you send, paring down how many features are sent, and removing unnecessary fields, you are drastically reducing the size of the data you’re providing. One more thing you can do is use the Compact feature on the geodatabase to make sure it is as small as possible. When data is first added to a geodatabase, the records within each file are in order and are accessed efficiently by the file system. However, as records are deleted and added over time, the records within each file lose their order, and unused space develops as records are removed and new ones are added elsewhere in the file. This causes the file system to perform more record-seeking operations within each file, slowing the rate at which records are accessed. Compacting tidies up storage by reordering records and eliminating unused space. After compacting, the data in each file can be accessed more efficiently. Compacting also reduces the size of each file; it’s possible to be able to reduce the size of a geodatabase by one-half or more. To do this in ArcCatalog, right-click on the geodatabase > Click Compact Database.

    • ESRI E-mail servers can accept 6MB

Try to limit the amount of data sent to 6MB if possible, ESRI does have an FTP site where data can be uploaded, but uploading and downloading data can be time consuming. Some tricks to getting the data down to 6MB include:


    1. Always ZIP your data. ESRI Support analysts can accept .zip, .RAR and .7z files and unzip them successfully. The most common type of ZIP file is .zip, and all Support analysts have this available so this would be the preferred method, but hey, we’re open to alternative methods.


    1. If just zipping it is too large, try exporting your geodatabase into an XML (.xml) file. You can send your database schema and data in an .xml, which is smaller than your original database. The .xml is created in ArcCatalog by right-clicking on the geodatabase > Export > XML Workspace Document, and choose to Export the Data in the Binary format. Then place the resulting XML in a folder and zip it and send it to the Support analyst.


    1. Similar to exporting a stand-alone geodatabase into an .xml document, SDE feature datasets can also be exported in an .xml. Instead of sending a whole data backup, please export just the feature dataset by right-clicking on the feature dataset through ArcCatalog > Export > XML Workspace Document, and choose to Export the Data in the Binary format.


  1. Raster data can be Giant! It is not always necessary to send the entire raster dataset to ESRI Support Services for review; instead, send a small subset that can be emailed quickly and easily. To do this, zoom in to a pertinent location on the raster image. On the Drawing toolbar, select the Draw Rectangle tool and draw a rectangle over the area of the raster that needs to be clipped out. Right-click on the name of the Raster in the ArcMap table of contents > Data > Export Data, and under ‘Extent’ make sure that ‘Selected Graphics’ is selected. Set the other options up to mimic the original dataset.

    • Send detailed steps to reproduce the issue and an MXD

When working to package and send data to an ESRI Support analyst, it can be easy to forget to send the detailed steps to reproduce the behavior reported. Analysts understand the tools that are available in ArcToolBox and the functionality built into ArcMap and ArcCatalog, but they don’t necessarily understand your data or workflow. Please make sure to send detailed directions with screen shots, so they can be sure they are following your workflow exactly.

All of the steps above will help ESRI Support analysts help you in resolving your issue!


-Allison R., Technical Lead, ESRI Support Services, Charlotte Operations Department