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Scene layers

Web scene layers are cached web layers that are optimized for displaying a large amount of 3D content.

You can view scene layers in Scene Viewer and ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Earth.

You can publish a hosted scene layer using a scene layer package (SLPK) that you generated from ArcGIS Pro, or you can publish 3D data from ArcGIS Pro directly to an ArcGIS Enterprise portal. When you publish from ArcGIS Pro to ArcGIS Enterprise, an associated feature layer can also be created. This allows you to edit the feature data and keep the scene layer in sync with those changes.

You have the following two data storage options for the feature layer associated with the scene layer:

  • Copy the feature data, which creates a hosted feature layer. Hosted feature layers and hosted scene layers are related; if you delete the scene layer, the hosted feature layer is also deleted.
  • Leave the feature data in your registered data source, which creates an ArcGIS Server feature layer. Creating a feature layer that references your registered data can help improve publishing performance because the feature data isn't copied. However, the two layers are no longer as closely related; when you delete the scene layer, the feature layer is not deleted.

You can also build scene caches and place them in a registered data store, then publish a scene layer that references the prebuilt cache.

Scene layers with associated feature layers

Feature-based scene layers such as 3D object, building, or point can retain the connection to the feature layer from which the scene layer was created. The scene layer, together with the associated feature, builds a unit, allowing you to search for features or maintain the scene layer.

The following table summarizes the types of scene layers you can create and provides links to more information about, and examples of, each layer type:

Scene layer typeSupports associated feature layer (editable)Supports SLPK (read only)

3D object 3D object scene layer



Building Building scene layer



Integrated mesh Integrated mesh scene layer



Point Point scene layer



Point cloud Point cloud scene layer



Voxel Voxel layer



3D object

You can use 3D object scene layers to represent and visualize 3D objects, such as textured or untextured buildings that are modeled in 3D. From ArcGIS Pro, you can create a 3D object scene layer from multipatch data published directly to ArcGIS Enterprise either as a web scene layer with an associated feature layer or from an SLPK. See 3D object scene layer in the ArcGIS Pro help for more information on this type of layer.

In addition, ArcGIS CityEngine 2016.0 and later can export an SLPK from which you can publish a 3D object scene layer.

Buildings as 3D object scene layer


Building scene layers allow you to visualize complex digital models of buildings and interact with all the components of the building. With building scene layers, you can explore a building's composition, properties, and location of structures in a building digital model. Building scene layers allow you to query and isolate discipline layers—such as structural or architectural—or categories, such as walls or roofs. They are used for engineering, architecture, surveying, and construction purposes. See Maintain and work with a building scene layer in the ArcGIS Pro help for an explanation of the multiple ways you can implement, use, and manage building scene layers. You can publish a building scene layer from ArcGIS Pro 2.3 or later as an SLPK. Beginning with ArcGIS Pro 2.6 and ArcGIS Enterprise 10.8.1, you can also publish a building scene layer with an associated feature layer.

Building scene layer

Integrated mesh

Integrated mesh data is typically captured by an automated process for constructing 3D objects from large sets of overlapping imagery. The result integrates the original input image information as a textured mesh using a triangular interlaced structure. An integrated mesh includes elevation information and can represent built and natural 3D features, such as building walls, trees, valleys, and cliffs, with realistic textures. Integrated mesh scene layers are generally created for citywide 3D mapping and can be created using ArcGIS Drone2Map and ArcGIS Pro 2.2 or later, which can then be shared to an ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5 or later portal as an SLPK. See Integrated mesh scene layer in the ArcGIS Pro help for more information on this type of layer.

Integrated mesh scene layer of Girona, Spain


To ensure fast visualization in all clients, cached point scene layers are used to display large amounts of point data not possible with a point feature layer. Point scene layers are automatically thinned to improve performance and visibility at smaller scales. Automatic thinning means that not all features are displayed at small scales; as you zoom in, additional features are displayed. For example, you can use a point scene layer to display all the trees in a city. In ArcGIS Pro, you can create a point scene layer with a feature layer shared directly to ArcGIS Enterprise as a web scene layer. See Point scene layer in the ArcGIS Pro help for more information on this type of layer.

Trees as point scene layer

Point cloud

Point cloud scene layers allow fast consumption and display of large volumes of point cloud data in Scene Viewer and ArcGIS Pro 1.4 or later. You can configure these layers in ArcGIS Pro and publish them to an ArcGIS Enterprise portal. Point cloud scene layers in Scene Viewer can appear differently based on the symbology renderer type configured from ArcGIS Pro. Scene Viewer supports the following renderer types in ArcGIS Pro:

  • Stretch
  • Classify
  • Unique Values
  • RGB

See Point cloud scene layer in the ArcGIS Pro help for more information on this type of layer.

Point cloud scene layer


A voxel scene layer represents multidimensional volumetric 3D or 4D data in Scene Viewer and ArcGIS Pro. In local scenes, you can visualize atmospheric or oceanic data, geological underground models, or space-time cubes as voxel scene layers. Use voxel layers to access and explore volumetric data about the world and better understand conditions that you can't physically experience. For example, an underground model visualized as a voxel layer can be viewed together with buildings or subterrain utilities to evaluate the underground for planned construction or maintenance.

You can create a voxel layer in ArcGIS Pro and share it as a web scene layer or within a local scene.

Voxel scene layer

Copyright 2021: Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology and TU Darmstadt.

  • For optimal performance of voxel layers, a high performance graphic card is required. For more information, see Scene Viewer requirements.
  • Mobile support differs across devices. Voxel scene layers may not display as expected.
  • The Elevation Profile interactive tool is not available with voxel layers.
  • The measurement distance and area honor the vertical exaggeration applied. The results may vary depending on whether a vertical exaggeration is set.

Copy data or precreate content

Scene layers reference cached tiles. Where the cached tiles are stored and managed depends on how you publish the scene layer.

Copy data

When you publish a scene layer from ArcGIS Pro or upload a scene layer package to the portal and publish, data is copied to ArcGIS Enterprise and the scene cache is created in the tile cache data store.

In this workflow, you get a hosted scene layer, and ArcGIS Enterprise creates and manages the scene cache for you. However, this workflow can be time consuming for large packages or scenes, because the tile content is uploaded to ArcGIS Enterprise. You must ensure that the portal content store and the arcgiscache directory on the hosting server each have twice as much free disk space available as the size of the scene layer package or scene content you publish.

Precreate content

You can load precreated scene content to a folder or cloud storage location data store, and publish a scene layer that references the precreated content. This workflow is recommended if editors don't need to update the feature data associated with the scene layer content and when the scene content you're publishing is large.

Publishing takes significantly less time in this workflow because no content is uploaded to the portal. Performance for the scene layer, though, depends on your connection to the data store location. For example, if your client is on-premises, but the scene content is in a cloud storage location on the other side of the world from your client, scene performance may be slow when used in that client.