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FAQ: Where is the metadata stored in ArcSDE for ArcCatalog layers?

Question

Where is the metadata stored in ArcSDE for ArcCatalog layers?

Answer

Metadata is stored in the GDB_UserMetadata table. There is an XML column in this table, which is a blob field. The entire XML document is stored in there. A relational table structure is not used to 'explode' the contents of the XML document.

There are only two ways to access it outside of ArcGIS because the metadata information is stored in a blob field: either through ArcObjects or the ArcSDE C API, which has a method to dump the contents of a blob to a file.