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Frequently asked questions

Listed below are common questions about Portal for ArcGIS. If you encounter issues when working with Portal for ArcGIS, see Troubleshoot for recommended solutions.




My content

Esri featured content



What kinds of layers can I add to a map?

You can add ArcGIS Server services, hosted web layers, OGC services, and KML documents. You can also add features you create with the map viewer and features from a delimited text file or GPX file on your computer. You cannot add layer packages or other types of ArcGIS Desktop content.

What's the difference between features stored in the map and features stored in a feature service layer?

Features stored in the map come from creating a map notes layer or adding a file to the map and can only be edited by the map author. Features from feature service layers are streamed from a web service and can be edited by users if the service owner allows it.

What's the best way to add features to a map?

It depends. If you have large amounts of data and you have access to ArcGIS Server, an effective approach is to create a feature service and add it as a layer to your map. You should also add feature layers if you want others to edit the features and their attribute information. By default, your features will be editable by anybody viewing your map.

If you do not have access to ArcGIS Server or if you only want to add a handful of features, add a map notes layer with the map viewer. It is easy to create a few features this way, and the map viewer provides several templates from which you can pick shapes and symbols. However, it's not practical to add large numbers of features since you have to create each one within the map viewer—you cannot, for example, upload a file of predefined features. These layers are read-only, so others cannot change the features or edit related attribute information.

If you have features in a delimited text file (.txt or .csv) or a GPS Exchange Format file (.gpx), you can import them into your map. This is a convenient way to add features you have stored in a file on your computer. Once you've added them to your map, you can change the symbols and configure pop-ups.

If your file contains many features, you should place it on a web server and reference it through a URL using Add Layer from Web, rather than importing it directly into the map.

How do I save an individual feature layer as an item?

To save an individual feature layer that you can share with the group that contains your custom analysis layers, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the item page of the multilayer feature layer and go to the Visualization tab.
  2. Choose the layer you want to save from the Layer drop-down menu.
  3. Click Save as new layer to save a copy of the layer as a new item in My Content.
  4. Type a title, tags, and a summary, and if you want, choose a different folder to save the layer.
  5. Select to create the new item with Just the current layer and click Save.

How can I tell if a map is time enabled?

If you see a time slider at the bottom of a map, that map includes one or more temporal layers, and you can play the map to see how the information changes over time.

What's the difference between Save and Save As?

Save updates an existing map you own. Save As creates a copy of the map, and you see the original Save Map window where you can update the title, tags, and so on. You can save a copy of any map that is not owned by you; you cannot update an existing one you do not own.

What is the difference between building a map with an ArcGIS Web API versus using the map viewer to make a map?

Think of the map viewer as a canvas onto which you can easily mash up different layers that interest you. Once you've created a map, you can share it with other portal users or embed it in an app. This might be an app that you wrote using ArcGIS Web APIs, or if you have little programming experience, it could be a preconfigured app such as the portal's web app templates.

ArcGIS Web APIs can also be used to build a mashup from scratch without starting in the map viewer. This involves more code and layer management by the developer.


What is a scene?

A scene is a 3D representation of a collection of layers, styles, and configurations that allow you to share symbolized 2D and 3D geospatial content with others over the Internet. You can create 3D scenes through ArcGIS Pro or the built-in Scene Viewer in Portal for ArcGIS.

What is the Scene Viewer?

The Scene Viewer is an app built into Portal for ArcGIS for creating and interacting with 3D scenes. The Scene Viewer works with desktop web browsers that support WebGL, a web technology standard built into most modern browsers for rendering 3D graphics.

How do I open a scene?

You can view scenes in Portal for ArcGIS with the Scene Viewer or sign in to your organization and create scenes. You can also open scenes in ArcGIS Pro.

How do I create a scene?

You can sign in to your organization to create a scene in Portal for ArcGIS with the Scene Viewer, or you can use ArcGIS Pro to create and share a scene.

What's the difference between a scene and a map?

A scene is similar to a map in that they are a mashup of data layers you can view in a browser. Scenes are different from maps because, unlike maps, scenes display 3D data and allow 3D navigation in any direction and angle.

Do I need ArcGIS Pro to create a scene?

No. You can create scenes by mashing up layers shared with your organization using the Scene Viewer.

How can I use the Scene Viewer with my 2D data?

You can bring your 2D data into a 3D environment and get a better understanding of the data. For example, you can create 3D symbols from your 2D symbols by applying a size and height. You can zoom in and out and rotate the surface to see the data from different angles. You can also add elevation to overlapping 2D layers so you more easily view the data in each layer.

What is the difference between the Scene Viewer and the CityEngine Web Viewer?

The Scene Viewer and the CityEngine Web Viewer are two different applications available in Portal for ArcGIS with each having unique functionality and purpose.

In the Scene Viewer, you can do the following:

  • View scenes created from the Scene Viewer or ArcGIS Pro. The Scene Viewer doesn't support CityEngine web scenes.
  • Author scenes, for example, you can add and remove layers, modify symbology, or capture slides.
  • Display a collection of portal layers, such as scene layers, feature layers, image layers, or tile layers.
  • View scenes rendered in world-extent with basemaps in a spherical globe view (global scene) or a planar view (local scene).
  • Navigate scenes where data loading and image-graphic rendering are performed progressively.

In the CityEngine Web Viewer, you can do the following:

  • Display static CityEngine web scenes (3ws) exported from CityEngine or ArcScene. The CityEngine Web Viewer doesn't support scenes.
  • View CityEngine web scenes that are rendered in a small local extent with a Cartesian coordinate system.
  • Comment and compare scenarios, for example, you can use the swipe tool to see the differences between two scenarios.
  • The CityEngine Web Viewer loads CityEngine web scenes as an initial download on opening and does not load any streaming data afterwards.
  • The CityEngine Web Viewer is a viewing tool and doesn't support authoring, such as adding basemaps, changing symbology, or configuring layers.

Can I share 3D geometry in feature layers?

Yes. You can share 3D points, lines, and polygons.

Can I share my own terrain models in scenes?

Yes. You can share custom terrains using ArcGIS 10.3 for Desktop and later to create a cached elevation image service. You can add these services as elevation layers in your scene.


Why doesn't my story map app display the app or web content I embedded in it?

If your portal is configured to communicate over HTTPS only, the story maps you create in that portal will always be accessed through HTTPS. If you embed an app or web content that is accessed via HTTP, the embedded item will not display in your story map.

My content

How large a file can I upload?

You can upload files up to 1 GB in size to My Content through a web browser. You can upload larger files through ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap to support publishing layers to Portal for ArcGIS.


To publish large tile packages, it is recommended that you use the Share Package geoprocessing tool, which can take advantage of multiple processing cores.

What can I share?

You can share supported types of maps, apps, layers, tools, and files.

Can I share a URL of my map or app?

Yes. Content items, search results, and groups can be accessed directly by a URL.

What happened to the layer packages and other ArcGIS Desktop files I shared? I no longer see them.

The items are still in the website. However, you may have to change the site setting to show ArcGIS desktop content. By default, the site only shows web content in search results, groups, and the gallery. This means that if you haven't set the site to show desktop content, your layer packages and other data files won't appear in search results or your groups.

What happens if I delete the source item used to publish a hosted layer?

If the source item used to publish a hosted layer is deleted, the layer continues to draw as expected. However, certain functionality that requires access to the source data may no longer work as expected. The specific functionality can vary from layer to layer. Impacted functionality includes the following:

  • If you delete a service definition file, the Overwrite an existing service option in ArcMap may no longer work as expected.
  • If you delete a shapefile, file geodatabase, or CSV file, the Overwrite option on the hosted feature layer's item page is no longer available.
  • If you delete a tile package (.tpk), the hosted tile layer published from it can no longer be taken offline.

When the source item used to publish a hosted layer is a hosted layer itself, the hosted layer used as the source item cannot be deleted until all hosted layers published from it are deleted.

Why can't I see layer packages or other files used in ArcGIS Desktop?

By default, the portal website only shows you content that can be opened in a web browser. To see layer packages and other desktop content in search results, groups, and the gallery, set the site to show all content. Click the arrow to the right of Show: Web Content Only at the top of the website and click All Content from the drop-down list. For more information, see Show ArcGIS Desktop content.

What is the difference between a map and a web app within the context of the website?

An ArcGIS map is a set of informational layers and pop-ups covering a certain geographic area. The map is interchangeable such that it can be viewed in a browser, mobile device, or desktop app. You can use app-specific tools to change the map extent, find places, and see detailed data about a location.

You build a map by defining an area of interest, choosing a basemap, adding data layers, and configuring pop-ups. You can save maps and share them with everyone or with specific groups to which you belong.

A web app is a website that combines maps, data, and tools for a targeted use such as finding polling stations for an election. It might be as simple as a navigable map image embedded in a blog or as complex as a GPS navigation visualization.

Web apps can be based on templates (included with the portal) or developed from scratch using ArcGIS Web APIs. Both of these types of apps can plug in to ArcGIS maps. In general, apps are constructed from information in maps, supplemented with specific configurations and customizations. Apps can be hosted as a part of your content in the system, or they can be managed independently and registered with the system.

Esri featured content

What is Living Atlas of the World?

Living Atlas of the World is an evolving collection of authoritative, ready-to-use global geographic information from Esri. It includes imagery, basemaps, demographics and lifestyle, landscape, boundaries and places, transportation, earth observations, urban systems, oceans, and historical maps that can be combined with your own data to create maps, scenes, and apps and perform analysis.

What is subscriber content?

Subscriber content is the collection of ready-to-use map layers, analytic tools, and services published by Esri that requires an ArcGIS Online organizational subscription account to access. This includes layers from Esri such as Landsat 8 imagery, NAIP imagery, landscape analysis layers, and historical maps. Subscriber content does not consume ArcGIS Online credits.

What is premium content?

Premium content is a type of ArcGIS Online subscriber content. It is a collection of ready-to-use map layers, analytic tools, apps, and services published by Esri that you access through an ArcGIS Online organizational account and consume credits when used. Premium content layers from Esri include demographic and lifestyle maps as well as tools for geocoding, geoenrichment, network analysis, elevation analysis, and spatial analysis.


How do I give my colleagues permission to modify content I share with them?

You can allow other people in your organization to update your maps, apps, layers, and files, as well as their item details, by sharing the items with a group that has the item update capability enabled. When you share items to a group with this capability enabled, you allow group members to update any items shared with the group.

Allowing other members of your organization to update your shared content is useful in many scenarios. For instance, it makes it easy for a team of shift workers to share responsibility for updating a critical web map—adding or removing layers, changing symbols, updating the map's description, and so on. Another common scenario is giving a team of editors the ability to edit a publicly visible hosted feature layer without enabling editing on the layer for everyone.

To allow others to update your shared items, do the following:

  1. Ask a member of the default administrator role to create a group with the item update capability enabled as follows:
    1. Create a group.
    2. Check the box to allow members to update all items in the group.
    3. Add yourself and the colleagues with whom you want to collaborate to the group.
  2. Share your items with the group using the Access and update capabilities option.

    You remain the owner of the items, and other group members can update them.


Only members of the default administrator role can create a group with the item update capability enabled. Only members with level 2 accounts in the same organization can belong to the group. All members of this group can update the item regardless of the privileges for their role. However, they cannot perform other actions that are outside their privileges. For example, if they do not have privileges to create content, they cannot save a copy of a map they update. Only the owner (or administrator) of the item can perform the following actions on the item (not all actions apply to all item types): delete, share, move, change owner, change delete protection, publish, register an app, overwrite data in hosted feature layers, and manage tiles in hosted tile layers.