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Field Descriptions in GDB

01-30-2023 01:24 PM
Status: Under Consideration
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New Contributor III

Just read this article on Field Descriptions in ArcGIS Online.  I think that's a wonderful idea!  I went to look up it's equivalent for making the same thing for our Enterprise GDB, and I cannot find anything.

It would be amazing if we could put field descriptions in our GDBs and then when we host our data online - that metadata can go over with it.  This would be extremely valuable to those who edit data on the backend, to be able to look up what different fields are.  Also, if for whatever reason a service has to be deleted - all that metadata does not disappear with it..


The populated metadata for "Field Description" and/or "Description of Values" should be accessible in ArcMap when looking at the "Fields" tab in "Layer Properties".
And also when looking at the Field Properties in the Table view:
Both places would be helpful being able to see the populated metadata for "Field Description" and/or "Description of Values".

I asked for a related idea here.

Example requested for ArcGIS Pro interface: ArcPro - Field Metadata - Field Descriptions 

I understand that you can add metadata to a feature class and it would be possible to list the fields, field properties, and add a description using that metadata style. However, this is not the most ideal way to organize this. If the user is trying to access the description of a field quickly and seamlessly, it would make more sense to have it within the field properties. That way if the user is looking at an attribute table and wanted to see the description of that field, they would just hover the mouse over the field and see it there. Just like it is done with the Data type, read only, null able. Otherwise, we have to open up the catalog view, find the feature class in question, open the metadata tab and scroll to the field to see the description. In my case, I have over 100 fields in a dynamic feature class that is always changing. It would be much more efficient to be able to add a description to the field properties where it is easier to see and update. The Feature class metadata that you see in catalog seems better for an overview of the feature class as a whole.

Joshua Swisher‌  Are you thinking that the Field Description that a user would see in the Fields View would be different than the field description from the metadata?  I was thinking that the metadata would just be "bubbled up" to provide an easier way to see the description in Fields View.  That would provide the easy viewability.  However, then allowing editing of that description from Fields View and having that drill down into the feature class' metadata may be another issue.  Is your request about viewing the description in Fields View, editing it in Fields View, or both?

Thank you


My request is about both. I do think it would make more sense to edit field description in the Fields View. Although, I agree bubbling the description up in Fields View will help a lot in terms of viewability, even if that's not where you will be editing it. It just seems like it would be much more simple to be able to see and edit field descriptions from the Fields View. I think both descriptions would be the same whether its inputted in the metadata or in the fields view. If you edit it in fields view, you should be able to see that change in the metadata and vice versa. Does that make sense?

P.S., thank you for your attentiveness and insight.


Easy access to coded value domain descriptions for the field would help too.  As Joshua said, hover over the field in the attribute table and be able to pop up the coded values and descriptions.  Ideally there would also be a Detailed Description for each coded value that would appear in the metadata.  It's a common occurrence to be asked for information about field values when the description is already in the metadata.  As Joshua indicated, it's a real chore to go dig up the metadata compared to just accessing the information from the attribute table.  So most users don't make the effort to look at the metadata.

Status changed to: Under Consideration

Seconded! This aligns with this idea coming from the same angle for Pro:

Having the new field descriptions and types managed at the database level, included when publishing to services, and editable in and viewable in Pro would be huge.

I guess if the editing function worked against the existing metadata somehow that would work? As that metadata can be written to the fgdb. Or a special dedicated separate field if it conflicted with how metadata worked would be fine

then it could be read from there when publishing an enterprise or hosted service.

for view access in pro, if this  was exposed in attribute table or similar as a hover over or pop out, or item properties as an extra tab, or the catalog view that would be amazing. And same as item details, if it’s a web service read from the service endpoint, but if it’s a feature class read from wherever it’s stored.

then pro could use the context of the field type for ‘smart mapping’ to recommend symbology like the web one does


Hi @KoryKramer , this idea is old but open but people are obviously keen - can I draw your attention to where it’s listed as under consideration? Just in case there’s some insight from whoever is looking at the fdgb side of things 


(Merged from a separate idea.)

When a user hovers over a field name in the attribute table:


In addition to the field properties, I want to display instructions for editing the field:

"Only enter subdivisions or site alterations into this field. Do not enter contracts."


I'm aware that attribute rules can be used to prevent incorrect values from being entered. That's worth doing in some cases. But in many cases, I want to provide actual data entry instructions.
And I don't want to rely on the user possibly remembering to look at the metadata, which is cumbersome at best.

Ideally, the field descriptions would be automatically shown in the metadata too. But I'd only want to enter the description info once and have it displayed as both attribute table hover text and in the metadata.

ArcGIS Pro 2.6.8