Adding attribute structure to multiple shapefiles

11-02-2018 05:56 AM
New Contributor

I need to add about 10 fields with different parameters to around 300 shapefiles.  Is there any way of doing this and removing the current attribute data for shapefiles?

I am using ArcMap 10.0 Basic

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3 Replies
MVP Frequent Contributor

There are several processes that can help accomplish this:

Delete Field (Data Management) geoprocessing tool:

Delete Field—Help | ArcGIS for Desktop 

Caveat:  While the tool will work with ArcGIS Desktop Basic am not sure if this tool exists in ArcGIS 10.0.

As to adding the new fields:

Add Field (Data Management) georprocessing tool:
Add Field—Data Management toolbox | ArcGIS Desktop (same for both Pro and Desktop)

To handle all 300 at once, automate it all by using either:

Place all your shapefiles in one folder.  Then use an Iterator in Modelbuilder to loop through all your shapefiles within that folder.


Chris Donohue, GISP

Regular Contributor

Another approach to consider: you could create your ideal schema, then when you set up each new file in ArcCatalog, import this schema. You can append or copy data into these files and map data only to fields that you need.

I don't believe you can borrow schemas or use the Delete or Alter fields tools on .shp files, so I would do this in a file geodatabase; you can always export to shape files if you need to after the data is set up. 

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MVP Frequent Contributor

The ideal schema approach is workable.

Alter Fields at first seemed like a possibility, but unfortunately is moot as there is a software limitation in that the user only has ArcGIS Desktop 10.0.  If I recall correctly, Alter Fields was a new innovation ESRI rolled out in ArcGIS Desktop 10.2.

In regards to using the Delete Field geoprocessing tool on a shapefile, it does seem to have this functionality.  At least, it works in ArcGIS 10.4.1 (see below):

Chris Donohue, GISP