How To: Edit shapefile field names for use in ArcIMS


Instructions provided describe how to edit shapefile field names if they are longer than 10 characters, or if they need to be written in uppercase. These are required to perform queries on shapefiles in ArcIMS.

A. If field names are lower or mixed-case, ArcIMS Administrator generates a warning:

The ArcIMS Spatial Server can only query shapefiles that have uppercase field names.
One or more field names in 'shapefile_name' are not uppercase and cannot be queried.
Modify the shapefile before using it to perform queries.

B. ArcIMS only reads the first 10 characters of the field name. Field names with more than 10 characters can be interpreted as non-unique.

To update the field names use the Export function in ArcGIS ArcCatalog. Follow the steps below.


Fields in a shapefile cannot be directly edited. However, it is possible to export the data using ArcCatalog and edit the field names during this process.

  1. For ArcGIS 8.x, in ArcCatalog, right-click the shapefile. Select Export 'Shapefile to Geodatabase Wizard ...'

    In ArcGIS 9.x, follow the same procedure as follows, but select Export > To Geodatabase(single)...
  2. The 'Input shapefile' is already specified. Click Next.
  3. For 'Output Geodatabase', navigate to either an existing personal geodatabase or to an existing ArcSDE connection. The remaining parameters in this dialog box are set by default. Click Next.
    [O-Image] Panel2
  4. In the fourth dialog box 'Use defaults?' select 'Specify Remaining Parameters' then click Next.
    [O-Image] Panel 4
    Click Next in the 'Spatial Index Grid' dialog box.
  5. In the 'Item to field mapping' dialog box, update the field names in the 'Corrected Fields' column to be 10 characters or less and uppercase only; edit any that are not. Remove fields that are not needed.
    Click Next.
    [O-Image] Panel 5
  6. In the 'Current Spatial Reference' dialog box, click Next.
  7. In the 'Summary' dialog box, click Finish.
  8. Navigate to the newly created feature class. Right-click it and select Export, 'Geodatabase to Shapefile ...'.
  9. For the 'Output shapefile', navigate to an appropriate directory location and give it a name.
  10. The new shapefile inherits the field names from the feature class. However, if it is a line shapefile, it also inherits the geodatabase feature class field 'Shape_Leng' field. If it is a polygon shapefile, it contains 'Shape_Leng' and 'Shape_Area'. Note that these new fields have mixed-case names and should be deleted. Therefore, right-click the shapefile and select Properties. In the Fields tab, select the Shape_Leng field, if it exists, then press the Delete key. Likewise, delete the Shape_Area field if it exists. Click OK.

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