Tips and Tricks for data conversion with Data Interoperability


There are two standard methods for converting data to another format with the Data Interoperability Extension.  These are:

  • Quick Import/Quick Export in ArcToolbox > Data Interoperability Toolbox
  • Creating a Spatial ETL Tool in a new toolbox to define and customize the conversion process

The above methods for converting data do an excellent job, but the Quick Import and Quick Export tools do not preserve attributes, and creating a Spatial ETL Tool to control the conversion process while ensuring that attributes are brought over can be time-consuming. 

There is a third method to access data through Data Interoperability, and convert that data to another format. The method outlined below is quick and easy and preserves attributes that exist in the input data. 

This method is particularly important when dealing with formats such as Inspire GML, or IFC CAD files. These file formats display all available feature types that the data format includes, even if those layers are empty in the specific dataset being accessed in the current process.


  1. In ArcCatalog, create an Interoperability Connection to the data.  The Interoperability Connection provides a view of the data, but can also be used in a conversion process.  In the ArcCatalog tree view, scroll down toward the bottom of the display, open the Interoperability Connection dialog, and add an Interoperability Connection to the proper data format and the location of the data.
  2. After the connection is created to the data, make sure the data displays in the Catalog Preview window.  Also check to make sure that any attributes associated with the data also display in the Catalog table view.  Click the drop-down at the bottom of the Preview tab to change from the geometry to the table view.
  3. After verifying that the data displays as expected, close the ArcCatalog window.
  4. Open ArcMap with a new, empty map, and open the ArcCatalog window on the side of ArcMap - not the original Catalog window.  Refresh the Interoperability Connection that appears toward the bottom of the display.
  5. Click the Add Data button in ArcMap, in the Look In drop-down, scroll down, open the Interoperability Connection, open the connection to the data, and add the data to the map.  Data can also be dragged and dropped into the map from Catalog, but accessing the data from the Add Data dialog can also help filter out empty layers that are an issue with certain data types.
  6. After the desired data layer has drawn in ArcMap, right-click the name of the layer in the ArcMap Table of Contents, select Data > Export Data and export the data to the desired format. This process attaches related attributes to the output file, if an attribute table exists in the output data format.

Last Published: 3/11/2019

Article ID: 000019613

Software: ArcGIS Data Interoperability 10.1 ArcGIS Data Interoperability for Server 10.1