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Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS: A Workbook Approach to Learning GIS, 3rd Edition by Michael D. Kennedy

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Summary of Logical Structures of Vector-Based GIS Datasets

In terms of logical structure and layout within the computer, shapefiles are at the surface. The files that constitute a shapefile may reside anywhere on a hard disk, provided that they are all in the same folder. Attribute data is always stored in dBASE tables. Only a single feature type—point, multipoint, line, or polygon—is stored in a given shapefile.

A personal geodatabase is a single file in Microsoft Access. A file or enterprise geodatabase may use any of several commercially available database management systems.

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