Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Displaying images and attributes in ArcGIS 10

In older article I wrote about the ways to show attributes and images simultaneously in ArcGIS 9.3.1. Now ArcGIS 10 is out I decided to test it again.

ArcGIS 10 has a new feature - Attachments that is designed for this or similar purpose. Here is what help system says about it:

Attachments provide a flexible way to manage additional information that is related to your features. Attachments allow you to add files to individual features and can be images, PDFs, text documents, or any other type of file.

This sounds very promising and I have set up a simple map document containing just a world countries and cities. For cities I want to display attributes and photos. First tool to try will be HTML popup like I did with 9.3.1.

Here is what you have to do. Firstly, you have to enable attachments for your feature class. This is done in ArcCatalog on case by case basis. By doing a simple right click on a feature class in context menu under 'Attachments' select 'Create Attachments' option.

By doing this ArcGIS will create a new table and relationship class. These will be used later when attaching documents to the features.

Now I have a map document with two layers, table and a relationship class.

Since we are adding records to the related table and editing features we have to start an edit session. In ArcGIS 10 you can do it from a context menu.

Now it is a matter of selecting feature you want to add attachments to, open the attribute table. Once attribute table is opened display the context menu and select 'Open Attachment Manager'.

Attachment manager is quite simple form where one can manage attachments. Here I have added first image.

If there are multiple documents/attachments you want to add they can be added at once. See example below for adding two images.

Final result for London is that there are three images stored as attachments.

After saving edits for few more cities I can specify HTML popup option in layer properties.

And now we are ready for testing. Here is the HTML popup tool result for London.

I want to point out that attachments feature is not the same as hyperlinks managed in a table. Once file is attached it is actually stored in *_ATTACH table in your geodatabase. As a test I have renamed my london1.jpg to london1xxxx.jpg and opened the same MXD. My result is still the same and click on london1.jpg brings up original image attached.

This is great improvement over 9.3.1 functionality. I haven't tested it yet with larg(er) number of attachments or different files but I could do that later on. Till then, good luck with experimenting in ArcGIS 10.


  1. If you publish this .mxd on ArcGIS Server to create a web mapping application, would it work? I tried and it's not working for me. It just shows me the attributes and not the attachment!

    U of C

  2. How about displaying 2images at the same time as thumbnails... any thoughts ?

  3. I haven't tried that but maybe it could be done by editing the stylesheet used in HTML popup.

  4. Thank you so much, it's useful and helpful to understand Arc map.

    I am so glad to find your blog and following your lesson :)
    Best regards

  5. Thank you so much,

  6. hey Zorko
    im wonddering wether i can display an attheched image on a the layout view when usin the data driven page tool.

  7. hey zorko
    im wondering wether i can disply an attached image on the layout view using data driven pages.