Agile Geodatabase Design

iterative waterfall
An iterative waterfall?

While Agile is on my mind, I thought I’d write a bit about Agile Geodatabase design.

Let’s say I follow ESRI’s steps from the bottom of this page to create a geodatabase.

1. With Microsoft Visio or Rational Software Corporation’s Rational Rose, design a geodatabase in UML and export it to an XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) file or Microsoft Repository. To learn how, see

2. Add the Schema wizard to ArcCatalog.

3. Generate a geodatabase schema from the XMI file or Microsoft Repository with the Schema wizard.

4. Once you have generated the schema, you can modify it with tools in ArcCatalog if needed.

5. Once the schema is ready, you can load data into it.

In step 4 let’s say I decide to modify the schema. At that point my schema is out of synch with my CASE model. It can quickly become a pain keeping the model in synch with the geodatabase. Then there is also the pain of keeping Data Access Layer Components (DALCs) in synch with the geodatabase. In essence, these steps represent a waterfall.

So here’s my suggestion: ESRI should provide a Geodatabase Designer within Visual Studio. It would provide a look and feel similar to the VS Class Diagrammer, but it would not replace the Class Designer. Instead, it would provide a graphical way of editing an XMI schema containing geodatabase types. A command would allow it to generate code (.NET classes) the way Dave describes here. Likewise, there would also be a command to synchronize the XMI schema with a geodatabase, as well as with the DALC’s.

I know this is all rather vague, but my point is until we have easy-to-use tools that support the round trips needed in iterative development we’ll end up with waterfall processes. Escher notwithstanding, waterfalls are very un-agile.

Update: Here‘s an example of how a designer can be built for Visual Studio.


3 comments so far

  1. Dave on

    Have you tried the Geodatabase Designer tool? I’ve only briefly used it myself, but it’s waaaay better than using Visio option because it actually round-trips.

    I’d also say that Ritchie is really responsive if you find bugs.

    I also threw out some bait at the 2007 DevSummit .NET SIG talking about using the DSL tools in VS2005 to create an integrated developer experience much like you are describing.

    I heard that some ESRI big-wigs were in the room taking notes, but never heard anything more. Unfortunately my company at the time lacked vision and so did not let me pursue it.



  2. Kirk on

    I’ve used it a while back, but I didn’t realize it roundtrips. Will take a closer look.

    Thanks! Kirk

  3. Ron Bruder on

    Richie has also introduced a new, more visually interactive tool called ArcGIS Diagrammer. It’s still in beta and he’s still working out some of the kinks, but I think it has potential. As Dave stated, Richie has been very responsive when I’ve submitted bugs.


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