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Connecting to the Corporate GIS Data Server

MLI Corporate GIS Database Connection;

Data Layer Naming Convention

General "ESRI provided" SDE ArcView Client Implementation Instructions Using the Database Access Extension

Frequently asked questions


Connecting to the Corporate GIS Data Server

Connecting to the corporate live GIS data server, you must follow these few simple instructions. Please make these modifications to the files listed below.

1. In the "HOSTS" file found in "C:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\"                

Add the following line: gis2

2. In the "SERVICES" file found in "C:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\"

Add the following line:

esri_sde 5151/tcp # ESRI SDE Standard Instance port number

Once these additions have been made you will be able to gain access to the database.

For ArcView users be sure you download the latest "Database Access" Extension from ESRI's Website for the version of ArcView You are using. Currently for ArcView 3.2 "Database Access" version is 2.1a. This link will provide you with proper patch for your ArcView


1. Be sure the "Database Access" Extension is loaded into ArcView.

2. From the "View" Menu choose the "Add Database Theme"


3. You will see the "SQL Query Wizard" window, choose "Create a new connection"; "Using" SDE; Hit the "Next" button.


4. "SDE Server Instance" box enter: gis2

5. "Username" box enter: gisuser

6. "Password" box enter: gisuser

7. Hit the "Connect" button.

8. If a successful connection was made the "Connect" button will dim and the "Next" button will be activated. Hit the "Next" button.


9. From the list of available data layers choose the layers you wish to load, you may choose more than one layer by holding the "Shift" Key. Hit the "Next" button.


10. Choose your option from the radio buttons, the first choice is defaulted and hit the "Finish" button to add your selected layers to your View.


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MLI Corporate GIS Database Connection;

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Data Layer Naming Convention

The intent of this naming convention is to allow easy recognition of Spatial Data while including some key Metadata in the layer name itself. Secondly the usage of this naming standard is to allow easy access to data held in corporate geospatial databases (SDE/SDO). Thirdly as a more precise reference to the data layer.

In the naming convention there are 7 distinctive sections of information provided in the name. The full syntax is position sensitive and each section takes up a specified number of characters. If all the characters are not required the field is padded to the right hand side


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1) 5 Super classes of Data categorization (All GIS data must fall within one of these categories).



2) The first 4 characters refer to departmental branch or major discipline followed by a forced underscore (_) and then a free form description of the dataset in 10 characters. E.g.. "SURV_HYDR_LAKE_" or "SURV_HYDR_RIVER"or "GEOL_BEDROCK___"


Options: free form field except for initial 4 characters to be branch name designation or major dataset discipline.

3) The scale is based on a sliding decimal point with a base unit of 1:1000 represented as "0001". Other options are:

1:1,000,000 = "1000"

1:100,000 = "0100"

1:10,000 = "0010"

1:1,000 = "0001"

1:100 = ".100"

1:10 = ".010"

1:1 = ".001"

Any Scale = "ALL_"

1:31,680 = "0031" We do loose the absolute scale here but this detail is outside the purpose of this naming convention.


Options: 1:9,999,000 = 9999 to 1:1 = .001

4) Data type in terms of GIS data options.


Options: "R" = Raster, "P" = Point, "L" = Line, "A" = Polygon or Area shape "T" = TIN (Triangulated Irregular Network), "G" = Grid or Surface, "Z" = 3D Shape

5) Geographic reference based on the NTS Grid System.


Options: "63K15" for 50k, "63K__" for 250k and "_ALL_" for seamless provincial base dataset.

6) Government Departmental code based on reference given in the SHL e-mail listing.


Options: "NR_" = Natural Resources, "EM_" = Energy and Mines, "JUS" = Justice etc.

7) Version number starting at 01


Options: "01" - "99"

Now to put it all together to make sense here are a few examples of the completed name, please try these with a variety of datasets to see if there need to be adjustments.



General "ESRI provided" SDE ArcView Client Implementation Instructions Using the Database Access Extension

Before you can start working with SDE data in ArcView you need to find out some information and make sure your machine is set up correctly. Find out who the SDE administrator is in your organization, then arrange for some time to ask the following questions.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the name of the SDE server I'm connecting to?

The SDE server is the machine that has your data.

What is the name of the SDE database instance I'm connecting to?

The SDE database instance is the SDE process that lets you access a set of spatial data.

What user name and password do I use to access the data?


Is my machine already set up to connect to SDE?

If your machine isnít already set up and you can do the work yourself by following these instructions. You need to find out two things: the service number of the SDE database instance, and the IP address of the SDE server.

Which tables in the database contain the data I want?
Which database contains the tables I need?

If you arenít familiar with the contents of the tables, ask for a data dictionary. It is important to know which tables contain what data, how those tables can be joined together, and what the column names in the tables mean.

Who do I contact if I can't connect to the database?

Sometimes you won't be able to connect to SDE because the SDE server isnít running, or because of network problems. Make sure you can contact someone to find out what is wrong and to have him or her solve the problem.

Before you can create database themes and database tables, find out if you have to set up your machine. After following the instructions below, you should be able to connect to SDE to create database themes and database tables.

Setting up your machine for SDE

To set up your machine for SDE you need to edit its Hosts and Services files. You can do this in any text editor.

File Locations

Windows NT: <winnt root>\system32\drivers\etc

Windows 95: <win95 root>

UNIX: /etc


This file must contain the SDE database instance name and its service number. For each instance that you want to access, add the following line to the Services file:

<instance name> <service number>/tcp

For example, the default instance name is esri_sde and the default service number is 5150:

esri_sde 5150/tcp

Machines can be sensitive to the order in which entries appear in the services file. If you have trouble connecting, try changing the order in which the SDE database instances are listed.


For each SDE server that you want to access, add the following line to the Hosts file:

<host name> <IP address>

For example,


After editing the Hosts file, make sure you can 'ping' the SDE server. You can ping a machine by typing "ping <host name>" at your prompt. You will be able to connect if you get a reply from the server. If you don't get a reply, then you likely spelled the server's name wrong or typed the IP address incorrectly in the Hosts file.

PCs only: If your PC doesn't have a Hosts file you must create a new one. A sample Hosts file is often provided, called Hosts.sam. When saving the new Hosts file, some text editors will automatically attach a .txt extension to it; rename the file to eliminate the .txt extension. If you don't have a Ping utility to check communication with the server, you need to open a DOS window.

Before you can start working with SDE data in ArcView, you need to find out some information from your SDE database administrator.

To create database themes and database tables using data from an SDE database you first need to connect to the SDE server. The database is case sensitive when evaluating the strings you type in, so be sure you type them in correctly.

To connect to an SDE database server

1 Load the Database Access extension.

2 You make a connection to the database when you create a database theme or a database table, or when you repair a database theme's or a database table's connection. In the dialog you use for one these tasks, choose the Create a new connection option.

3 Choose the Create a new connection option. If you're using the SQL Query Wizard, click Next; otherwise, click the Connect button to open the SDE New Connection dialog.

4 In the SDEServer:Instance text box, type the SDE server name and the database instance name, separated by a colon, like <server>:<instance>. These two pieces of information together define which SDE database you are connecting to. For more information, see the note below.

5 In the Username text box, type your user name for accessing the SDE database.

6 In the Password text box, type your password for accessing the SDE database. Together, your user name and password define your permissions in the SDE database.

7 Click Connect. You are connected to the database when the Connect button dims out.

8 Some relational databases contain several databases, or groups of related tables. If the relational database used by SDE has databases of tables, a list of their names will appear; otherwise, this step will be dimmed out. Choose the database containing the tables you want to access, or skip to the next step.

9 Click Next or OK, whichever is present in the dialog you are connecting from.

You've finished making an SDE connection. Now you can create database themes and database tables.

Note If the database instance uses SDE's default name, esri_sde, you only need to type in the server name (without the colon). If the database instance does not use the default name, you can set an environment variable called SDEINSTANCE to contain the instance name; if this variable has been set, you only need to type in the server name (without the colon).

How and when to use the Disconnect button

When the Connect button dims out, the Disconnect button becomes available. You can see the contents of the database you're connected to in the database names list. If you look at this list and realize that you've connected to the wrong SDE database, you can change your connection by clicking Disconnect. When you click Disconnect, it dims out and Connect becomes available. Change the contents of the text boxes to identify the correct SDE database. Click Connect when you're done.

If you realize you've connected to the wrong SDE database after clicking OK or Next, how you change the connection depends on which interface you are using:

If you're using the SQL Query Wizard and you've already clicked Next, you have two choices. One option is to click Cancel, then open the SQL Query Wizard and start again. The other option is to move back to the connection panel. Click Disconnect, then make a new SDE connection. You will lose any choices you've made in the wizard.

If you're using the Add Database Table dialog and you've already finished creating a connection with the SDE New Connection dialog, you need to make another new connection. Choose the Create a new connection option, click the Connect button , then make a new SDE connection.

When connections disappear from the existing connections list

ArcView only saves connections in a project if they are associated with a database theme or a database table.

If you create a connection in the SQL Query Wizard or the Add Database Table dialog, then click Cancel before creating a database theme or a database table, ArcView won't save the connection in the existing connections list; the connection isn't associated with a theme or a table.

If you delete from a project all the database themes and database tables that require a connection, then the connection will be removed from the existing connections list.

If you create a database table, join that database table to a local ArcView table, then delete the original database table, ArcView will save the connection required for the joined attributes until you remove all joins from the local table. Then, if no themes or tables require the connection, it will be removed from the existing connections list.

SDE data structure

SDE stores your spatial data in relational database tables. Your database has a collection of tables, some of which may contain spatial data and others which do not. Spatial data is stored in a spatial column of a table in the same way that numeric data is stored in a numeric column. You can add a spatial column to any table in the database.

A collection of geographic features that share a common thematic subject should all be stored together in one business table. There are no limitations to the kinds of features one table can store, only that all features in a table must lie within a defined range of coordinates. For example, you might have a business table containing all the hydrographic features in Manitoba including lakes (polygon), rivers (line), aqueducts (line), dams (point), and annotation for these features (anno). Each record in the business table is not required to have a value in the spatial column; records can also contain SDE's null feature type.

The business table could contain attributes such as the name of the feature, its depth (if appropriate), the date it was created (if appropriate) and the type of feature it is. Your database can have several other tables in the database containing attributes about the features in a business table, including tables describing the levels of pollutants or maintenance work, and lookup tables describing the features. These attribute tables can be joined to the business table in a database theme's query.

ArcView and SDE feature types

Even though a business table can contain many classes of features, a database theme in ArcView can represent only one of them: polygon, line, point, or anno.

When you create database themes using the SQL Query Wizard, you choose the spatial column you want to see from a list of the spatial columns you can access. In that list, if a spatial column has feature types from more than one ArcView class it will have a folder icon. Click on the folder to choose the feature class your theme will represent. If you select the name of a spatial column that has a folder icon without choosing a feature class, ArcView makes a theme for the default feature class. ArcView decides which class is the default by checking the feature types a spatial column can have; ArcView looks for polygons, then for lines, then for points, and, lastly, for anno.

A spatial column that can have features from many classes may presently contain only one class of features. For example, you will be able to create both polygon and line themes from a spatial column that can have both polygons and lines even if it only contains lines at that time. If you create a polygon theme, it will appear empty when you draw it. Another person might be adding polygons, but hasn't yet committed the new features to the database.

Each SDE feature type has specific rules about the geometry it represents. ArcView shapes do not follow the same rules, and therefore are not always valid SDE features. You may not be able to store some ArcView shapes in SDE.

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