What is a BDS Layer?
BDS (.bds) is a file extension that stands for Business Analyst data source. BDS layers are custom ArcGIS feature classes used exclusively throughout Business Analyst. Technically, a BDS layer is an XML wrapper that provides the following benefits:
- Allows attribute table field headers to bypass the 10-digit maximum character code names and use a descriptive alias name. The table field naming limitations are still applicable. Click here for more information.
Here are some examples of the code name versus the BDS alias name:
10-digit code names Alias names shown through a BDS layer
2015 Total Population
2015 Female Population 0–4
2015-2020 Annual Compound Growth Rate: Population
- Allows you to decide how your data is aggregated to your trade areas and reports. For more on aggregation options, see Custom Data Setup.
- Allows you to join your data to an existing BDS layer. This is helpful if you have, for example, sales figures by ZIP Code. You can join your ZIP Code sales figures by ID to the ZIP Codes provided in Business Analyst. You can also include any other demographic fields in the layer and maintain the data aggregation settings and descriptive field headings. This join allows you to exceed normal ArcGIS table limitations on the number of fields you can have in an attribute table.
- Allows you to create custom calculated fields. For example, you can take the 0–4 Ages Population field plus the 5–9 Ages Population field and combine them to form a 0–9 Ages Population field. Since the demographic layers in Business Analyst are in read-only File Geo Database (FGDB) format, a BDS layer can perform these custom calculations without modifying the read-only layers.
- Allows you to view and use your BDS layers throughout the Business Analyst wizards including customizing reports, appending data, or customer prospecting. Many of the wizards reference the BDS demographic layers provided in the product out of the box. When you create a new BDS layer, it appears in the same list as the others. A .bds file extension appears.
- Can be used on any of the Esri Business Analyst suite of products. For example, any BDS layers created in Business Analyst Desktop can be uploaded to the UserData folder in the Business Analyst Server dataset. Right-click the BDS layer name in ArcCatalog and choose Upload and the desired location and preferences.
Certain characters in field or table names are not supported in ArcGIS and not supported in Custom Data Setup. These characters include spaces, hyphens (such as in the term x-coord) brackets and other special characters. These limits enable ArcGIS to function with the maximum amount of data types.
Here are some suggestions:
- Use only alphanumeric characters or underscores.
- Don't start field or table names with an underscore or number.
- It is necessary to edit the field names in delimited text files to remove unsupported characters before using them.
- The limit for the length of field and table names depends on the underlying database management system (DBMS). Consult the DBMS documentation for information on naming limits for a particular DBMS. A dBASE field name can be up to 10 characters long with no limit on the length of the table name.