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How To: Share data from more recent versions of the geodatabase with older versions of ArcGIS Desktop

Summary

Instructions provided describe how to share data from more recent versions of the geodatabase with older versions of ArcGIS. ArcGIS is designed to be backwards-compatible with earlier releases of geodatabases. Forward-compatibility is not possible at each ArcGIS release since the geodatabase continually evolves to support new functionality. There are three exceptions to this statement: ArcGIS 9.0 and geodatabases created with ArcGIS 9.1, ArcGIS 9.2 Service Pack 5/Service Pack 6 with geodatabases created with ArcGIS 9.3 or 9.3.1 and geodatabases created with ArcGIS 10.0 and 10.1.

Geodatabases are directly compatible between 9.0 and 9.1. It is possible to access and edit 9.0 geodatabases in 9.1 without upgrading them, and geodatabases that are created, modified, or upgraded in 9.1 can be accessed and edited in 9.0.

Geodatabases are directly compatible between ArcGIS 9.2 Service Pack 5/Service Pack 6 and 9.3 or 9.3.1. It is possible to access and edit 9.2 geodatabases in 9.3 or 9.3.1 without upgrading them, and geodatabases that are created, modified, or upgraded in 9.3 or 9.3.1 can be accessed and edited using 9.2 Service Pack 5 or 9.2 Service Pack 6.

Geodatabases are directly compatible after the 10.0 release (10.0 -> 10.4). Geodatabases and clients post 10.0 sp5 behave as if the geodatabase release is the same (internal stored procedures may increment and thus the release number does continue to increase). However the datasets themselves have flags on them indicating which clients are capable of opening them.

More information is available on this specific scenario in the What's new for geodatabases in ArcGIS 10.1 section under Interrelease compatibility support.

Procedure

To share data from more recent versions of the geodatabase with older versions of ArcGIS, migrate the data into a geodatabase created from the earlier release of ArcGIS. In this example, a personal geodatabase is used. Be aware that geodatabase functionality implemented in newer releases cannot be migrated back to older releases.

Warning:
What follows is a summary of objects that are specific to a newer release of the geodatabase, which may raise an error during step 3 of this process.


ArcGIS 10.2.1
The ability to add field conflict filters (for example, arcpy.AddFieldConflictFilter_management) to specific fields was introduced. If classes with conflict filtering are copied to a 10.x geodatabase, the filter is maintained, however the older client cannot open the class. If the table is copied to a FileGDB of any geodatabase release, the filters are removed, allowing older clients to open the table.

ArcGIS 10.2
The ability to archive non-versioned tables in an enterprise geodatabase was introduced. The historical information present in these archives is not contained in the copy of the table, regardless of the geodatabases release.

ArcGIS 10.1
Several datasets have new functionality as listed below. If this functionality is enabled on the dataset, it cannot be copied into pre-10 geodatabases.
• Support for Python scripting is available with annotation and dimension feature classes.
• Tables and feature classes now support editor tracking.
• Network datasets support live traffic data, soft restrictions, preferred truck routes, and Python script evaluators.
• Workflows and tools for creating and editing mosaic datasets have been improved, including improved generation of seamlines and footprints, support for more raster types, additional properties, and tools to analyze the mosaic dataset for known errors or limitations.

ArcGIS 10.0
• Geometric networks created with Z support.
• Network datasets defining connectivity using z-coordinate values from geometry cannot be copied into pre-10 geodatabases.
• Terrains built with anchor points can’t be copied to pre-10 geodatabases.
• Six topology rules were added at ArcGIS 10.0; a topology containing any of these rules cannot be copied into a pre-10 geodatabase.

ArcGIS 9.2
• At ArcGIS 9.2, the ability to store coordinates in high precision was added. When converting high precision data to low precision, the spatial reference is converted to low precision and the XY resolution is coarsened until features fit within the low precision spatial reference. For more on this, see the section entitled 'Migrating High-Precision Datasets to Low-Precision' in the following whitepaper: Understanding Coordinate Management in the Geodatabase.
• Cadastral fabrics cannot be copied into a pre-9.2 geodatabases.
• Raster datasets created within a 9.2 geodatabase can be copied to a pre-9.2 geodatabase release, however, the storage improvements (such as raster attribute table or geodata transformation) are not available for use in the previous release.
• Representations cannot be copied into pre-9.2 geodatabases.
• Terrains cannot be copied into pre-9.2 geodatabases.

ArcGIS 9.1
• Network datasets cannot be copied into pre-9.1 geodatabases. Network datasets supporting Attribute Parameters, Default Attributes or Signposts cannot be copied into a 9.1 geodatabase.
• Schematic Datasets cannot be exported into pre-9.1 geodatabases.

ArcGIS 9.0
• Geodatabase annotation - Attempting to copy and paste annotations created with an ArcGIS release of 9.0 or later into an 8.3 geodatabase produces data unusable in ArcGIS 8.3. Attempting to copy and paste annotations created with an ArcGIS release of 9.2 or later into a geodatabase from a release prior to 9.2 produces unusable data. The Feature Class to Feature Class geoprocessing tool can be used to transfer annotations to geodatabases from a release prior to ArcGIS 9.2. Annotation and dimension feature classes supporting Python scripting cannot be copied into pre-10 geodatabases.
• Geoprocessing toolboxes cannot be copied into pre-9.0 geodatabases.
• Raster catalogs cannot be copied into pre-9.0 geodatabases.
• Topologies with Z cluster tolerances cannot be copied into an 8.3 geodatabase.

The following steps should be used to migrate the data into a geodatabase created from the earlier release of ArcGIS:

  1. Make sure that the geodatabase does not contain any objects that are specific to the newer release.
  2. Create a new personal geodatabase using the previous release of ArcGIS.

    • If it is not possible to create geodatabases from a previous release of ArcGIS, the following link contains a zip file with personal geodatabases from 8.3 onwards: Different releases of the geodatabase

    • At ArcGIS 10, the Create File GDB and Create Personal GDB geoprocessing tools have been augmented to include a parameter indicating to which ArcGIS version the created geodatabase should correspond.
  3. With the current release of ArcGIS, copy/paste the data into the geodatabase created by the previous release of ArcGIS.
  4. The geodatabase now contains the data from the current geodatabase and can be used by the previous release of ArcGIS.

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