The Table of Contents: Display vs. Source vs. Selection
So far we have looked at shapefiles, coverages, and vector-based personal and file geodatabases. You will learn the distinctions between them in detail in Chapter 4. The geodatabase will be the data model of choice as this century progresses, but all three are important, mostly because, as you use ArcGIS in your work or other classes, you may find (and be asked to use) extensive datasets in all three forms. The coverage has been around for decades, the shapefiles for years. The geodatabase, particularly the file geodatabase, is the database of choice for now and the future. One of the major differences between the types is the way in which they are stored on the hard disks of computers. If you look at the T/C of ArcMap, with the List By Drawing Order button active, the different types are pretty much represented in the same way. If you look at the T/C with the List By Source button active, there are some obvious differences.
Toggle back and forth between Source and Drawing Order, using the buttons at the top of the T/C. Turn off Auto-hiding if it is on and widen the T/C pane horizontally by dragging its right edge so you can see all the text. See Figure 2-19
. When List By Source is pressed, the most obvious difference is that you not only see each dataset that contains each layer but also the path all the way to the hard disk. Layers are grouped by their type (shapefile, coverage, or geodatabase) and by their hard ...