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Add Geometry Attributes in Arc Catalog Fails

09-07-2015 12:53 PM
Occasional Contributor III

I swear that every day I use ArcGIS I seem to find a new problem. Here is the latest.


Running ArcGIS basic 10.3.1 on WIndows7 VM under parallels on MAcbookPro.

I have a feature class  that was created from Business Analyst BDS

Demographic Layer of Census Block Groups (CBG) by removing many of the fields

which were not of interest and by limiting the CBGs to only those in 3 states (spatial join).

As a result of this data reduction two new fields are added: Shape_length and Shape_Area.

I was puzzled that the values in Shape_Area did not remotely agree with a BA field named

Land Area, not did the ratio between them seem to be any sensible conversion ratio

like SqMiles/SqMeters. So I used a tool in ArcCatalog,

Tools=>Data Management Tools=> Features=>Add Geometry Attributes

which enables me to calculate something called the Area Geodesic.

I choose as units square meters, it calculates the result, which indeed did

not agree with the existing Shape_Area field.

OK. So just to check I thought I would just run the tool once more. I delete

the field just calculated and invoke the tool again. Now the tool dies.


1. Whenever one selects a subset of features  from a data source and exports those features

    to a new feature class (mine are all in a file geodatabase), new fields are added. In my case

    the features are polygons, and the new fields added are Shape_Area and Shape_Length.

    Why? If I wanted those fields I could use tools to calculate them.

2. What is Area Geodesic anyway? Is it more or less the same as the area assuming flat earth?

    (for a small region, say the size of a census tract or block group)

3. The values in these fields did not appear to be correct. Because quite a bit of time has elapsed

    since this feature class was created I cannot remember details such as whether the layer

    was re-projected to a different PCS or GCS. But how could the values be incorrect?

    Do they change if the PCS changes?

4. It is impossible to remove these fields. The "delete" button is greyed out. Why?

    I don't want them, and aren't they available as the "hidden" geospatial parameters

    in a feature class anyhow?

5. If one takes the newly created feature class and make a further selection,

    select by location, and export that new subset of feature, those special fields

    Shape_Area seem to be created a second time. So now I have two of them!

6. The Add Geometry Tool is now failing after working the first time

    I have screen captures of the results from this tool on the first (successful) invocation

   and the second (and all subsequent) failing invocations. They are attached.


In the last 3 weeks or so I think I have posted to GeoNet every two days.

People must be fed up reading my stuff. (Thank you all for nonetheless

helpful suggestions) Is it just me? I can't believe I

am really doing things which put me at the bleeding edge of GIS.

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8 Replies
MVP Emeritus
  • ​Your data are obviously in a geodatabase so the geometry stuff is added (shapefiles dont do this)
  • geodesic area? are perhaps your coordinates in decimal degrees? and not in a projected coordinate system?  I doubt that esri would sell data already projected so check on the history of the files you are using
  • values do change depending on the PCS used...not a lot in some cases...if it is a real huge amount then it is the difference between GCS and PCS
  • can't delete those fields...move on
  • use shapefiles ... although some will skoff...delete the crappy fields, then bring it back into your geodatabase.  Won't work if you have fields that are ridiculously large (> 254 characters or are blob fields) but this saved a couple of people I helped before...worth a try
  • can't flip back and forth between the images...what I do when all else fails...export the layer to a new location so it is brand spanking a new project, load the data, delete any extraneous crap...try the function about 95% of the time...bring it back in...elapsed time < 5 min.  Headaches? None
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Occasional Contributor III


I now find that the Add Geometry Tool

as run from within ArcCatalog

always fails.

Same errors as shown on previously attached screen shots

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MVP Emeritus

Well with all that documentation, report back when you have some feedback from esri.

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New Contributor II

I have had several people try to use Mac computers for GIS, CAD, and many other types of software and have a multitude of issues. You may try to use a standard PC and see if that remedies the problem. I know that really doesn't solve your issue but it might be the only thing you can do. I know that my GIS professor suggested not using Mac for GIS applications.

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MVP Emeritus

​I am also one of those Kirt

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New Contributor II

Did you mean that you are one of those that suggest not using MAC for these kinds of applications?

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MVP Emeritus

yes...I teach and the vast majority of install or functionality issues are with non - windows based machines​.  I haven't seen an difference with the partioning isn't the some level, it just isn't.  I also think laptops should only be used if there is a significant amount of field work being done and desktop access is not possible. My time is worth more than the cost of a if you have the cash, do yur gis on  desktop 

sent from my iThingy

PS  I also don't use ArcCatalog if the equivalent exists in ArcToolbox.  ArcGIS Pro is a different world as well.

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Occasional Contributor III


I am inclined to think you must be right.

The software just cannot be this buggy.

Every day I seem to encounter

some new inexplicable strange behavior.

But I am at a loss to guess what incompatibility

there can be in running ArcGIS on a Parallels VM

or on a native Windows7 installation.

But we are not going to have our company dependent

on Windows. So some GIS is going to have to run

on MAC hardware one way or another

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