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About sharing feature layer data as copies

Hosted or server-based feature layer items can be shared with the option to copy data. If you share a feature layer by copying data, a new item is created for collaboration participants, and the copied data is used to publish a feature layer for collaboration participants. The owner of the original feature layer can edit the feature layer and synchronize changes to the participants at a scheduled interval. To use this approach, the sync interval must be set in the collaboration workspace and sync must be enabled on shared hosted or federated feature layers.

If sync is not enabled when you share the feature layer with the sending organization's workspace, data is not copied. The feature layer created on the receiving organization references the data from the sending organization.


In such cases, the sending organization and administrator will receive a notification indicating that the item was shared as a reference rather than as a copy.

To share the feature layer as a copy, unshare it from the workspace, enable sync on the feature layer, and share it again.

Hosted feature layer views can be shared to a collaboration. In ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6.1, they will be shared as a reference rather than as a copy.

When sync is enabled for feature layers, sync status is available for both the collaboration host and collaboration guests.

Supported feature layer types for sharing as copies

The following types of feature layers support sharing data as copies:


You'll see the option to share feature layers as copies if all of the following are true:

  • Collaboration participants are using ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6 or later and have access to Send or Send and Receive content.

    At ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5.1, hosted or federated feature layer items can be shared with the option to copy data when the collaboration host is an ArcGIS Online portal.

  • ArcGIS Enterprise participants must meet the specifications of a base ArcGIS Enterprise deployment.
  • Feature layers are sync-enabled during the publishing process or once the service has been published.
    • To enable sync for a feature layer published to a federated server, the data must be prepared appropriately in the enterprise geodatabase. See required data preparation steps for nonversioned and versioned data.

Properties of copied feature layers

When collaboration participants receive copied feature layers, the properties and behaviors described below apply.

Read only

Editing is disabled on feature layers received in a collaboration because synchronization is one way only; edits are only synchronized from the sending organization to participants. For this reason, it is recommended that you not enable editing on the layer in the participant organization or create editable views (if the participant is an ArcGIS Online organization) from these feature layers to support editing workflows in the participant organization. Edits made to the same feature in the host and participant organizations are overwritten in the layer in the participant organization during sync.

Editor tracking

Enable editor tracking on feature layers before sending them to participating organizations. When the data is first copied to the receiving organizations, editor tracking values are reset. Editor tracking dates are set to the current timestamp in UTC, and creators and editors are set to the publishing user. Date, creator, and editor values are reset because this reflects when and who created the layer in the receiving organization. When syncing, the editor tracking dates from the sending organization are preserved. Therefore, from the time the data is shared, the layer in the receiving organization contains the dates that the edits were made in the sending organization. Creator and editor values for insert and update operations synced into the receiving organization are set to the publishing user from when the feature layer was copied.

It is possible for you to enable editor tracking on some feature layers in a sending organization and leave other feature layers without editor tracking enabled. How editor tracking is applied in the receiving organization depends on the type of feature layer you send and whether you send from ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online as follows:

  • When you send multiple hosted feature layers, and some have editor tracking enabled and some do not, all hosted feature layers created in the receiving organization will have editor tracking enabled. This is true when collaborating from ArcGIS Enterprise to ArcGIS Online.
  • When collaborating from ArcGIS Online to ArcGIS Enterprise and editor tracking is enabled, all feature layers in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise will have editor tracking enabled.
When a feature service has multiple layers and one layer has editor tracking enabled in ArcGIS Online only, the sync process will set the editor tracking values based on the current timestamp and the publishing user.

If you enable editor tracking after adding the feature layer to the collaboration, the layers in the receiving organizations will not have editor tracking enabled.

If you unshare and share the layer to the sending organization's workspace, the layer will be recopied to the receiving organization workspaces with editor tracking enabled.

Access control settings are maintained for receiving organizations but have no consequence, since all features are owned by the publishing user in the receiving organizations.

Delete protection

When you share layer items as a copy in a collaboration from ArcGIS Enterprise to ArcGIS Online, the receiving ArcGIS Online organization can enable delete protection on the layers you've shared with them. If you subsequently unshare these layers, the layers remain in the ArcGIS Online organization. However, edits you make to the unshared layers in your ArcGIS Enterprise portal are no longer synchronized with the layers in the ArcGIS Online organization.


If you want to reinstate sync on the layers, the receiving ArcGIS Online organization must disable delete protection and delete the layers. You can then reshare the layers as a copy from ArcGIS Enterprise to the ArcGIS Online organization.

Schema changes

If you change the schema of a feature layer in either the sending or receiving organization, those changes are not applied when the workspace is synced. Examples of schema changes include adding or deleting fields, adding or deleting layers in a feature layer, and enabling or disabling attachments. The workspace sync operation includes only edits (insert, update, and delete operations) to layers or tables that were available at the time the feature layer was shared to the workspace. When there are schema differences, sync applies edits to the matching parts of the schema. For example, if a field is added in the sending organization, the new field is ignored when edits are applied during sync to the receiving organization's copy. To send schema changes to receiving organizations, unshare and share the layer to the sending organization's workspace.

Time settings

When you copy feature layers that have time settings enabled, time is not enabled on the copied feature layer in receiving organizations.

Versioned data

If the feature layer's data in the sending organization is from a versioned enterprise geodatabase, edits made to the published version are sent when the workspace is synced.