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ArcGIS should allow the ability to permanently reorder fields in a table

Under Consideration

  • 26480

  • After creating a feature class, it would be convenient to go back after data input, and make changes to the field ordering (position).

    Tags :
     Geodatabase, field, properties, position, type
    Posted by   thadabroad  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Apr 20, 2010
Merged Ideas (16)
Add the ability to rename fields within geodatabase objects
Posted by  despina  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Mar 31, 2010
Add the ability to reorder fields within feature classes and tables.
Posted by  despina  to GeodatabaseProduction Mapping (PLTS) Mar 31, 2010
Renaming Fields (SDE and Geodatabase)
Posted by  channyd  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Apr 20, 2010
Change Field Order - ArcSDE
Posted by  IntlDistribs  to Geodatabase May 5, 2010
Rename a field name
Posted by  wagem007  to ArcGIS Desktop May 15, 2010
Field position
Posted by  vassalli  to ArcGIS Desktop Sep 18, 2010
Add Field tool should allow user to specify a location for the new field
Posted by  ccarrelli  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Oct 12, 2010
Integrate Table Restructure ability into ArcGIS
Posted by  bgsisco  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabaseMobile GIS Oct 21, 2010
Reconfigure Field Wizard
Posted by  mcieri  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Jun 23, 2011
Change field order in attribute table
Posted by  mnebel  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Aug 12, 2011
Field reordering
Posted by  lygismav  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Aug 17, 2011
Rename the table fields
Posted by  franzpc  to ArcGIS DesktopTraining IdeasMaps and Content Nov 4, 2011
Rename fields in the Attribute Table
Posted by  iken  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Jul 7, 2012
Permanent Renaming and Reordering of Fields
Posted by  AngelaPollett01  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabaseMaps and Content Oct 16, 2012
Re-Order Columns in Geodatabase
Posted by  Wolseley  to ArcGIS DesktopGeodatabase Jan 18, 2013
Adding the ability to re-order attributes
Posted by  scastro6  to ArcGIS DesktopArcGIS ServerGeodatabase Apr 9, 2013

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Comments (61)

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May 8, 2015
This should at a minimum be possible in Catalog feature class properties with arrow buttons, but in the year 2015, this really ought to be drag-and-drop functional.  Seems long overdue.

Nov 5, 2014
Along with reordering we should be able to change the field properties e.g. from numeric to string, without the rigmarole of creating a new field different name , populatingthe field, deleting the old field, then creating a new field of the old name and repopulating. Just allow the structure to be changed.

Jul 22, 2014
This has been a publicy and frequently requested capability since at least 2002, so we've stuck our thumbs up it for over a decade now.  I seem to recall wanting to do it myself back before the turn of the century.  I continue to want it and am publicly standing here with you all with my thumbs up for it (still).  Hopefully the "well, there was this early ArcGIS design decision..." argument has evaporated in the mists of time and ArcGIS 10.3 will be the release that indicates that our message has been heard.

Jul 17, 2014
It seems to me legitimate to find all these capabilities within the ArcCatalog > Dataset Properties > Fields interface (e.g. arrows to reorder fields, etc.) as well as tools such as, for example, ArcToolbox > Data management > Fields > Rename or ArcToolbox > Data management > Tables > Reorder fields. Please allow this functionality ESRI!  We have replicas set up that must be unregistered and re-registered when we have to re-create a feature class or table because we want to add a new field in the middle of it.

May 23, 2014
"It seems to me legitimate to find all these capabilities within the ArcCatalog > Dataset Properties > Fields interface (e.g. arrows to reorder fields, etc.) as well as tools such as, for example, ArcToolbox > Data management > Fields > Rename or ArcToolbox > Data management > Tables > Reorder fields."

I second this opinion!  

To wwaters - Managing data has to be done in GIS sometimes.  They need to realize it.

Apr 16, 2014
I too highly support these very basic fonctionality. Any object, including fields, should have theyr constructors, descructors and management capabilities.

It seems to me legitimate to find all these capabilities within the ArcCatalog > Dataset Properties > Fields interface (e.g. arrows to reorder fields, etc.) as well as tools such as, for example, ArcToolbox > Data management > Fields > Rename or ArcToolbox > Data management > Tables > Reorder fields.

Sep 22, 2013
This just means people are using ArcGIS to manage data, which they shouldn't be doing. 

Jul 3, 2013
Yes - and be able to permanently change the order even if tied to a SDE GDB (not just saved under an mxd or layer) - to actually change the order of fields inside of the SDE GDB by using the up and down arrows inside of the 'Field' tab of 'Properties'

Jun 20, 2013
I don’t think that this functionality has been added because, as I understand it, in ArcMap for example, you’re not manipulating “the” feature class but a temp/in memory representation of it. 
Fairly easy work around:
Export the schema (not data) of the FC to a XML Workspace document.  Use an XML editor to Edit change the field names, reorder and/or insert new fields.  I then import the schema, load it with code or the simple feature loader.
You can download a variety of free editors (XML Notepad).

Jun 5, 2013
Amazing ... I just noticed this thread was 3 years old. Stupidity is a good word to describe this whole thing.

Jun 5, 2013
This is just idiotic that reordering isn't allowed. I'm having to rebuild multiple tables and feature classes because of this Esri shortcoming. It's simple, allow it at the admin level. SIMPLE!!!! But as usual Esri does what Esri wants and it takes thousands to get a simple change completed. But Esri will continue to promise us so many amazing things at each UC and we'll finally see part of it 3 years later. I'm sorry for ranting but this is ridiculous. I'm really mad about it.

May 24, 2013
Please allow this functionality ESRI!  We have replicas set up that must be unregistered and re-registered when we have to re-create a feature class or table because we want to add a new field in the middle of it.

May 3, 2013
come on Esri, this is s a no-brainer. Why are you dragging your feet?

{process class="discards" type="bathwater" name="ArcInfo"}

Apr 9, 2013
This is the number one issue that users want fixed, ESRI this should be a top priority and be address this sooner than later. MapInfo (not that I’m a fan) has a "Modify Table Structure" that covers the ESRI user’s requests in this thread, obviously TAB files are different to GDB but there must be away to achieve this. 

Mar 28, 2013
How about allowing this via a GP Tool/Python.  (Yes, I know of and much dislike 'field map') I bet most folks want to do it via script and not manually.  Glad it's added to 10.1, have already used it.  

Feb 27, 2013
Shouldn't this be at least "under consideration" by now?  How many votes does it take?

Jan 25, 2013
Lest We Forget - ARC/INFO equivalent function PULLITEMS was made available in about version 4.0 (circa 1988)

Dec 10, 2012
We really really really need this feature ! pleaaaase !

Nov 24, 2012
I hope ESRI is noticing the attention this Idea is getting. It's 2012 -- do something about it. It's incredibly frustrating that we can't do this.

Aug 24, 2012
Reordering fields with some workarounds (solution would be better) just came up again at

Jun 22, 2012
At ArcGIS 10.1, one can change field names for tables/feature classes in a 10.1 geodatabase.  Field names must still conform to geodatabase field name guidelines and  fields in a 9.3.x or prior release geodatabase cannot be renamed.  Other changes to fields are not currently supported at 10.1 and the remaining listed requests will be re-evaluated as separate ideas post 10.1 for inclusion in a future release.  Hence, this idea will be modified to the 'Change field order' request.

May 10, 2012
Would be nice to be able to change the width, that would be handy.

May 10, 2012
At 10.1, you can rename a field. 

May 7, 2012
wow.. this has not happened yet..  not surprising... let's go ESRI..  get on it.. 

May 3, 2012
Two years ago this was posted...
And this thing is essential.

Mar 28, 2012
This would be a great help.

Mar 26, 2012
We need this

Mar 1, 2012
And here I was, thinking it was possible. Only God knows how many hours I've spent trying to change field names and properties. Finally had to do it the old fashion way of creating a new field and copying the contents over.

Feb 14, 2012
Amen! this really needs to happen, sooner rather than later

So, does "under consideration" mean it's going to come out in the 10.1 release???

Jan 30, 2012

A tool with this ability would be great.  Add the field, pick the order and let it run.  Right now I have a model that copies out 30 columns, deletes them in the base table, adds my new column, then applies a permanent join of the old columns.  I think they could make a tool that would do this more automatically and still honor underlying database rules.

Jan 6, 2012
Also the ability to add this as a Tool would help in the Model or add this to Query Table or Table to Table tool.

P.S. This is my first post so please ignore if its been requested before.

Dec 8, 2011
It's absolutely embarassing that this hasn't yet been implemented. Come on, Esri!

Dec 8, 2011
Change a field from optional to mandatory

I know sdetable -o alter_column -x disallow_nulls exists, but I've had troubles using it - the database gets updated but not the SDE column registry.

I'm posting this as well as putting it here. In what I think is the most complex situation - a feature class in a dataset with versioning and archiving in play, and part of a topology rule, you need to work in the following order to avoid difficulties:

1) disable archiving on dataset
2) remove versioning on feature classes referenced by topology
3) delete topology
4) run a python script to create a new version of the feature class, retaining the data and recreating relationship classes lost when the olve version was dropped
5) create topology
6) apply versioning to feature classes referenced by topology
7) run Register as versioned ... at the dataset level
8) enable archiving on dataset

Dec 1, 2011

Like the old ArcInfo7 -> ALTER command.

Nov 29, 2011
It is a strange restriction on inherent database behavior (in SQL Server anyway) not to be able to rename a field/column in a supported way even on unversioned data.

Nov 3, 2011
i concur with sgreenl...... yes!!!!!

Nov 2, 2011
It was nice in the old ArcINFO to be able to add an item while specifying its exact location relative to the other items.  It was also nice to be able to alter (rename) items.  I wish such capabilities were included in ArcGIS before ESRI deprecates the old ArcINFO!

Nov 1, 2011

Sep 23, 2011
I can rename, resequence, and change data type of feature classes and tables - IF the data is a 'personal geodatabase' ... just close ArcGIS and open the personal geodatabase in Access.

Since ESRI and Microsoft seem to be intent to phase out .mdb files, it sure would be nice if this ability were developed by ESRI to work with file geodatabases ... in ArcCatalog

Sep 7, 2011
This would be powerful. Not only changing character limits when you are short three characters for your description but being able to change strings to numeric or back again. I don't know how many times I've had to create a field then copy data to achieve the same result. Here's another idea along the lines of interactive to make it more user friendly, to customize maps using the database data power.

Hi despina, didn't you tell us at UC2011, that in 10.1 it would be possible to rename and change a field? I just installed ArcGIS Desktop 10.1 beta, but I did not find out how to redefine an existing field.

Having the ability to reorder the fields at the database level would be extremely helpful.  I have been using the reorder fields tool from the ArcScripts gallery, has been working with ArcGIS 10 until SP2.  Being able to reorder the fields into a more useable workflow (without having to recreate the entire feature class) also helps with custom form development in both ArcPad and ArcGIS Mobile.

Jun 2, 2011
Hi everyone,

Thank you for all of your input. We are currently considering adding the ability to rename fields and change some of the field properties to a future release.


Despina M.

May 28, 2011
Some RDMS may have limitations hindering the creation of such tool. However, different RDMS can be inspected by the tool to indentify if it is possible or not ... So the tool can be created but will not run on all systems and that is acceptable.

May 17, 2011
Get on with it ESRI... we are not asking for much...

Feb 27, 2011
Yes also agree.  Field order is a function we would like to have other GIS staff use in a personal geodatabase to prepare layers for submission to central gis database.
Currently we export XML schema, shuffle the field array order, load the schema and load the data.

Feb 17, 2011
When this will be possible (field rename), ArcMap should also ensure automatic update of every query, label or symbology linked to renamed field either in currently opened MXDs or when map document with modified layer is opened.

Jan 7, 2011
I agree that renaming fields has challenges based on your RDBMS, but, reordering the fields should be really simple.  I'm still using 9.3.1, but I've heard now in 10, you can reorder fields within an ArcMap session.  Why not take this functionality and put it on the server side instead of limiting it to the MXD side of things.
All you would have to do is add a short, simple, table that lists the fields and their position and expose a table, tab, or other way to easily edit the "Position Number" of each field.
The table could look something like:
[Feature Dataset], [Feature Class], [Field Name], [Field Position]


Dataset 1, Polygon_Test_fc, "GLOBAL_ID", 3
Dataset 1, Polygon_Test_fc, "ROAD_NAME", 1
Dataset 1, Polygon_Test_fc, "ALIAS_NAME1", 2

So, when accessing the "Polygon_Test_fc" feature class, the attribute table would show up with the Road name, followed by the Alias name, followed by the GID by default.

The [Field Position] could be a short integer, the others would be whatever unique identifier, string, or whatever is convenient to integrate with existing indentifiers for this information.

Then, all you would have to do is tell the desktop software, ArcGIS Server, etc... that, when they access this data, first review this table, and then apply that order to the fields in displaying them client side.

Maybe I'm way off the mark on this one, not sure, but, that's what comes to my mind as a really quick and strait-forward solution to providing at least one of these very highly demanded features.

Dec 16, 2010
GDBs require this field order manipulation functionality, simple request on user's side, long overdue.

Dec 7, 2010
Yep... the reason I user ET Geowizards was because I want to reorder fields and it would be really nice if Esri put this ability back in... I am a workstation left over :)

Dec 2, 2010
I normally have to cheat (sorry workaround) and take the dbf into Access (normally renaming it so it's less than eight characters long so Access recognises it), it's a pain, surely such a simple database task should be available in ArcGIS. Especially useful would be the ability to change field names, lengths and order.

Shapefiles, gdb, sde who cares what the data is held as or in -  needs change overtime.

Dec 1, 2010

Changes to field name, field type and field position is also very much wanted for Shapefiles.
Using a Czech software for such a common task is just a work around.

Nov 8, 2010
The ability to rename/update an existing field or reposition the placement of a field within a table are commands that were extremely useful in Arc/Info Workstation.  It would be so nice to have this functionality in ArcGIS Desktop. 

Likewise, the ability to add a new item to a table and designate it's placement in that table (the old Arc/Info ADDITEM command) is greatly missed.  Please add these to Desktop.

Nov 2, 2010
Although I like the idea of this, I think takes just as much time to create a new field and copy the data over.  There are also further complications when changing data type.  If this was added I see it as a time cost that would take longer than just creating the new field and populating with the calculator.

Oct 1, 2010
For shapefiles can be used free Czech software Janitor ( The program JanDat can change the name, field type and some properties dbf  tables and dbf tables belonging to shp. I also was looking for a Python module, which could change the structure dbf table, but I found only a useful module for dBASE III. (SHP uses dBASE IV :).

Aug 19, 2010
 Promoted this to 3000 Points. I think this is a feasible idea.

Jul 15, 2010
For file geodatabases, this would be a very handy feature during prototyping when I frequently find myself correcting oversights and other initial design errors.

May 13, 2010
I have been looking for this to happen for years.  If it is in SDE (on SQL Server) or a Personal GDB then it can be done in MS SQL or MS Access respectivly, but for Shapefiles or the File GDB you are out of luck.  I refuse to use the new File GDB for this reason (and the field reordering, but that is a different issue).

May 7, 2010
Both of them are really good ideas.

May 6, 2010
It would be nice to be able to easily rearrange fields too, without having to create a new output feature class.

Apr 27, 2010
If your Feature Class is an SDE Feature Class then this can only be done if the underlying RDBMS can support changing the field as you described. If the RDBMS does not support altering an existing field then there is nothing ESRI can do other then actually creating a new field with a new name, calculating the new values and then dropping the old field. What if you are converting from string to number and the conversion fails? The RDBMS usually will roll back the whole update query. It might be done using small groups of records or record by record but this would be very slow for large tables. If you wanted to keep the same field name then the existing field name would have to be changed so the new field (with the new type) can be added. If the RDBMS does not allow an existing field to be renamed you could not keep the same field name without creating the field twice. If this field was a foreign-key to a field in another table I don’t think the field can be dropped without removing the foreign key constraint.  This could be very problematic to implement. This might only be possible if the Feature Class is stored in a File GDB because ESRI has full control of its implementation. It’s really only possible if the RDBMS can do it and then there is the question of keeping the user experience the same across all GeoDatabase implementations.



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