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About publishing services

A service takes your GIS resource, such as a map, tool, or geodatabase, and makes it available to a wider audience on ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Desktop is designed to help you share your work with others as a service.

The way that you publish a service varies based on the GIS resource type. The table below highlights how to begin the publishing process in ArcGIS Desktop:


If you want to publish a map document... the ArcMap document and choose File > Share As > Service from the main menu.

If you want to publish a geoprocessing model or tool...

...browse to a successful result of the model or tool in the Results window, right-click it, then choose Share As > Geoprocessing Service.


Beginning at 10.4, only administrators can publish a geoprocessing service. To allow publishers to publish geoprocessing services, see Change geoprocessing service and service extension publishing privileges.

If you want to publish something else, such as a geodatabase or address locator...

...browse to the item in ArcCatalog or the Catalog window, right-click it, then choose Share As Service.

From this point you have three choices:

  • Publish a service—If you're ready to publish, you can go through the entire process of connecting to the server and publishing a service. You can save your work as a draft service at any time and come back to it.

    Learn more about how to publish a service

  • Save a service definition file—If you want to set up all the properties of a service and transfer them to a separate machine for publishing, you can create and save a service definition file. This is occasionally necessary in cloud environments, in secure environments, or when the server is not immediately available.

    Learn more about service definitions

  • Overwrite an existing service—If you want to overwrite an existing service with an updated GIS resource and ancillary data, select this option.

    Learn more about editing services