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Using ArcGIS Desktop

When you define a feature dataset, you specify its spatial reference. This includes its coordinate system and the

coordinate domains—the minimum x-, y-, z-, and m-values and their precision. All feature classes in the dataset use the
same coordinate system, and all coordinates in all features in all feature classes must fall within the coordinate domains.
Any new feature classes you create within the feature dataset are automatically in that coordinate system. Any datasets
you want to import to the feature dataset have to be transformed or projected into the coordinate system before you add
them. When defining the coordinate system, you can choose a predefined coordinate system, import it from an existing
feature dataset, or define a custom coordinate system.

Feature datasets are primarily used for storing feature classes that will participate in a topology, network, or other
specialized dataset. These datasets can only be created within a feature dataset, the reason being that all participating
feature classes must have the same spatial reference (otherwise, it would be impossible to build the dataset), which the
feature dataset ensures.
Getting data into a feature dataset

When you first create a feature dataset, it’s empty. There are several ways to add feature classes to the feature dataset.

One easy way is to—within ArcCatalog—simply drag and drop a feature class from elsewhere in the geodatabase, or
from another geodatabase. Another way to add a feature class is to import it to the feature dataset. Importing lets you
modify the incoming feature class, to some extent.

To import data, right-click the feature
dataset in the Catalog tree, point to
Import, and click Feature Class (single) or
(multiple). The (single) option imports one
feature class at a time, and lets you specify
the input parameters. The (multiple) option
lets you import several feature classes at
once, but they are imported as-is.

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so only close vertices are snapped together. These are relationships you can see when looking at a map and are often intuitively obvious. lines. relationship classes. will share a common edge. You’ll want the less reliable features to snap to the more reliable ones. point to New. if necessary. parcel boundaries cannot overlap. For example. A geodatabase topology is a set of rules that specify how points. For example. ArcGIS will. if two street centerlines are supposed to connect but don’t quite meet. right-click the feature dataset. snap feature vertices together to make them coincident. but not all the feature classes in a dataset are required to participate in the topology. and click Feature Class.2 meters. so county boundaries don’t overlap. but they must be made explicit in the GIS. A typical cluster tolerance is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the accuracy of your data. ArcGIS checks the rules you’ve established. ArcGIS will snap the end points of the lines together. datasets for the same place often have spatial relationships with each other. Only feature classes in the same dataset can participate in a topology. and specialized datasets to the feature dataset. and so on. county boundaries (one feature class) must completely nest within states (another feature class). The cluster tolerance should be small. one topology rule would ensure that adjacent features. And a feature class can only participate in one topology at a time. The process for defining the feature class is the same as for creating a feature class at the geodatabase level (see ‘Creating feature classes and tables’ in this chapter). and applies to one or more feature classes in the dataset (so if you want to create a topology in your geodatabase. if your features are accurate to 2 meters. empty feature class within the feature dataset. and polygons share geometry. To create a feature class within a feature dataset. 115 . Ranks are used to implement this. As you develop the geodatabase. streets must connect at intersections. When you validate a topology. For example. The rules can apply to features within a single feature class—for example. The rules can also apply to features in different feature classes. Specify a cluster tolerance to control how far features are allowed to move during snapping (the default cluster tolerance is the minimum possible). such as two counties. To ensure the rules are not broken. you may add topologies. your cluster tolerance should be no more than 0. Creating a geodatabase topology Besides referencing the same location on the Earth’s surface. you must first create a feature dataset and add the pertinent feature classes to it).2 • Geographic Data Management You can also define a new. For example. parcels nest within block boundaries. and share edges along state boundaries. Vertices of lower-ranking features within the cluster tolerance will be snapped to nearby vertices of higher-ranking features. A topology is created within a feature dataset.