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.


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