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Relationships between web services and portal items

ArcGIS Enterprise gives you a platform for publishing web services and sharing links to existing services. This is accomplished through items in the portal, which present each service as a searchable and shareable entity. Understanding the relationship between web services and portal items can make it easier to work with Portal for ArcGIS.

It’s important to edit or delete services and portal items using the same means by which they were created. For example, if you publish a service using the portal website, you should use the portal website to delete the service; you should not use Manager to delete the service.

Layers published from ArcGIS Pro require special attention when editing and deleting items. See Publishing from ArcGIS Pro for details.

This topic describes four common ways to make a service available as an item on your portal. Appropriate rules for editing and deleting the service are provided for each approach.

Hosted services published to the portal

This approach is only available when the portal has been configured with a hosting server. You can publish a service to the portal, either using the My Hosted Services option in ArcMap, the portal website, ArcGIS Maps for Office, or another client that works directly with the portal. Both a portal item and a service are created for you when you do this. All services are placed in an ArcGIS Server folder called Hosted.

Service types listed in the Hosted folder differ from those in other server folders. This is to match the item types that are displayed in Portal for ArcGIS. The following table lists all supported hosted services and their updated item types:

ArcGIS Server service typeHosted folder/Portal for ArcGIS item type

Cached map service

Tile layer

Cached map service with feature service

Tile and Feature Layer

Feature service

Feature Layer

Image service*

Imagery Layer

Scene service

Scene Layer

WFS service

WFS layer

*The image service that underlies a hosted imagery layer runs on the portal's raster analysis server, not the portal's hosting server.

When you add the item by publishing a service to the portal, you should also edit and delete the item through the portal. For example, you could use the portal website or the My Hosted Services option in ArcMap to edit or delete the item. When you delete the item in this way, the back end service is deleted for you as is the data that was copied when the hosted service was created.

Publish the service to the portal

Example

You sign in to the portal as publisher Jan and upload a CSV file. You choose to publish the CSV to your portal as a feature layer. Automatically, a portal item is also created.

To delete this service in the recommended way, you sign in to the portal website as publisher Jan (or an administrator) and delete the portal item representing the service. When you do this, the service is also deleted automatically.

In this scenario, you should not connect directly to the hosting server to delete the service. This would leave a portal item with no link to a service. You would be forced to clean up the portal item manually.

Services published from ArcGIS Pro

You can publish a variety of layers from ArcGIS Pro. Where you edit or delete a layer published from ArcGIS Pro depends on the type of layer and whether you copied data when publishing or referenced registered data. Tile layers, vector tile layers, and scene layers published from ArcGIS Pro to your portal reside in the Hosted folder on the portal's hosting server. The data for these layers is always copied. The layers must be deleted and managed from the portal, as described in the previous section.

You can publish map image layers from ArcGIS Pro to one of your federated servers. These layers reference registered data. See Layers published to your portal's federated servers for details. An associated map service is published to the root folder on the portal's federated server that was specified when publishing. When you publish a map image layer that references registered data, be sure to go to the Content tab of the Share As Web Layer pane and choose one of the Federated Servers. This is the ArcGIS Server site where the map service will run. To delete a map image layer, you must connect to that federated server in ArcGIS Server Manager and delete the map service. The associated map image layer will then be removed from the portal. The data in your registered data source remains.

When you publish a map image layer from ArcGIS Pro, you can also enable feature access or WMS on the layer. If you do so, a WMS or feature layer item associated with the map image layer will be created in the portal, and these capabilities will be enabled on the map service on the federated server. You can delete the WMS or feature layer items in the portal without deleting the map image layer. Deleting the map service on the federated server, however, removes the associated map image, WMS, and feature layer items.

You can also publish imagery layers from ArcGIS Pro. An associated image service is published to the root folder on the portal's federated server that was specified when publishing. To delete an imagery layer, you must delete the service in Manager. The associated imagery layer will then be removed from the portal. When you publish an imagery layer, you can also enable WMS and WCS on the layer. If you enable WMS, a WMS item associated with the imagery layer will be created in the portal, and the WMS capability will be enabled on the image service on the federated server. You can delete the WMS item in the portal without deleting the imagery layer. Deleting the image service on the federated service, however, removes the associated imagery and WMS layer items. If you enable WCS, no associated WCS item will be created in the portal, though the capability will be enabled on the associated image service.

A feature layer in the portal can be a hosted feature layer (data is copied) or a feature layer associated with a map image layer published from ArcGIS Pro (references registered data).

When you publish a feature layer associated with a map image layer that references registered data, be sure to go to the Content tab of the Share As Web Layer pane and choose one of the Federated Servers. When you publish, a map service with feature access enabled will run on this ArcGIS Server site, and both a feature layer and map image layer item are created in your portal. To manage or delete the service, you must connect to the federated server in ArcGIS Server Manager. When you delete the map service in ArcGIS Server Manager, the associated map image layer and feature layer are removed from the portal. The data in your registered data source remains.

When you publish a feature layer to the portal and copy data, a feature service is created in the Hosted folder on the portal's hosting server and data is copied to the relational data store registered with the hosting server. Use the portal website to manage and delete hosted feature layers. When you delete the hosted feature layer, the copied data is also deleted.

To determine which is the case, go to the Item Details page for the layer. If the feature layer was published directly to the portal and has no associated map image layer, the item will be described as (hosted) when viewed by the layer owner or portal administrator. Feature layers published from ArcGIS Pro that do not have this (hosted) note are associated with a map image layer. They must be managed and deleted through the associated map service in ArcGIS Server Manager.

Example publishing scenarios from ArcGIS Pro to Portal for ArcGIS

The following publishing scenarios describe the behavior among published items and corresponding layer types with their companion ArcGIS Server services and capabilities.

Publishing from ArcGIS Pro to a federated GIS Server

When you publish a map image layer from ArcGIS Pro, you can also enable feature access or WMS on the layer. If you do so, a WMS or feature layer item associated with the map image layer will be created in the portal, and these capabilities will be enabled on the map service on the GIS Server. The following describes the behavior among published items and corresponding layer types for this scenario:

  • ArcGIS Enterprise portal item: A published map image layer enabled with feature access and WMS layer types
  • ArcGIS Server service: The published companion service with feature access and WMS capabilities enabled

Disabling capabilities in ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap

When a WMS or feature access capability is disabled in ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap, the corresponding (WMS or feature access) layer type is deleted as an item in the portal. The following describes the behavior among published items and corresponding layer types for this scenario:

  • A map image layer is published from ArcGIS Pro to the portal with both WMS and feature access enabled
  • A companion service is created on the corresponding GIS Server
  • When disabling the WMS in ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap, the corresponding WMS layer type is deleted

Deleting associated items in the portal

You can delete WMS or feature layer items in ArcGIS Pro or in the portal; however, doing so will not remove the associated map image layer or disable respective capabilities on the GIS Server service. To disable capabilities on an associated service, use ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap. The following describes the behavior among published items and corresponding layer types for this scenario:

  • A map image layer is published from ArcGIS Pro to the portal with both WMS and feature access enabled
  • A companion service is created on the corresponding GIS Server
  • When deleting the WMS or feature layer item in the portal, the corresponding WMS capability on the map service persists.

Deleting associated services in ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap

Deleting the map service on the GIS Server removes the associated map image, WMS, and feature layer items. The following describes the behavior among published items and corresponding layer types for this scenario:

  • A map image layer is published from ArcGIS Pro to the portal with both WMS and feature access enabled
  • A companion service is created on the corresponding GIS Server
  • When deleting the associated map service in ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcMap, the corresponding map image, WMS and feature layer items are deleted.

Services published to a federated ArcGIS Server site

You can publish a service to an ArcGIS Server site that you have federated with your portal. You publish using ArcGIS Server Manager, an ArcGIS Server connection in the Catalog tree of ArcMap, or ArcGIS Pro (as described in Services published from ArcGIS Pro). A portal item is created automatically at the time you publish the service.

If you added the item this way, you should edit and delete the service using Manager or the ArcGIS Server connection in ArcMap.

When you delete the service in this way, the corresponding portal item is deleted for you. The data stays in your registered data source.

Publish service to federated

Example

You use Add ArcGIS Server in ArcMap to create a publisher ArcGIS Server connection. You connect as publisher Jan and publish an image service to an ArcGIS Image Server site that is federated with your portal. The image service automatically becomes an image layer item on your portal.

When you are ready to delete this service, you log in to Manager as publisher Jan (or an administrator) and delete it. The corresponding item is automatically removed from the portal.

In this scenario, you should not use the portal website to delete the item. Doing so would leave a running service with no corresponding portal item. The service would be unusable because access to the service would still be controlled through the portal’s sharing model. You would need to clean up the service manually.

Using the My Content tab of the Content page in the portal website to add the service as an item

You can add a service as a portal item from Content > My Content in the portal website. This is how you share links to web services that are not running on a federated server.

If you added the item in My Content, you should edit and delete the item using the portal website. Even if you delete the item, the corresponding service continues to run unless you log in to its server and delete it. This is expected behavior because you may be using portal items to share links to third-party services that you have no intention or ability to permanently delete.

Add service as a portal item through My Content

Example

You find a useful web service from your neighboring department’s ArcGIS Server site and you want to add a portal item that links to it. You sign in to the portal website and go to Content > My Content to add the service from the web as a portal item.

When you are ready to delete this item, use the portal website to delete it. Deleting the item does not delete the service. This is the expected behavior because the service and the portal item have no built-in relationship in this scenario.

Best practices for editing and deleting items

The examples above have reiterated that you should edit and delete items using the same approach you use for publishing. This ensures that services and items maintain their appropriate linkage.

Layers published from ArcGIS Pro can be deleted from the portal in some cases and from Manager in others. Where you manage and delete the item depends on what layer type it is.

If you do not delete the items or services in the recommended way, you may be left with orphaned items or services that you must delete manually.

Note that a portal item can only be edited or deleted by one of the following:

  • The publisher who added the item
  • A portal administrator

This is different than the pattern used by ArcGIS Server, wherein all publishers can edit and delete all items.

Although administrators can edit items, this should be avoided. Editing items as an administrator can cause peripheral resources to accrue under the administrator’s account. Administrator accounts should primarily be used to change the ownership of items or delete items that are no longer needed.