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Feature services and client applications

There are a variety of ArcGIS clients available that you can use to edit (or view) the features in your feature service. Clients can consume feature services using either a web client or ArcGIS for Desktop.

Out-of-the-box ArcGIS web clients

The map viewers and templates in ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS provide basic out-of-the-box functionality for editing feature services. Without programming, you can quickly create a web editing application that allows users to add, update, and delete geographic features from a database.

For example, when using the out-of-the-box applications, you can do the following:

  • Edit selection-only layers.
  • Track edits. (This is available for enterprise geodatabases, not databases.)
  • Control access to features using ownership-based access control. (This is available for enterprise geodatabases, not databases.)
  • Prevent users from editing feature geometry.

You can add feature services to the map viewer in ArcGIS Online or your portal's website using the service's ArcGIS Server Services Directory URL. Once you create a map containing your feature service, you can share it with others in your organization, embed it in a website, or paste a link (URL) to the application into an email, blog, or website. Maps you create can also be deployed on your organization's web server by downloading application templates from ArcGIS Online. These templates are fully customizable.

The following tutorials use a feature service in conjunction with the map viewer to edit features:

You can also add feature services as items in your portal or ArcGIS Online and share them with other members of your organization.

See the Portal for ArcGIS help for more information on using Portal for ArcGIS.

ArcGIS API for JavaScript clients

The ArcGIS API for JavaScript offers the most advanced web editing capabilities and customization options. If you're comfortable programming using this API, you can create a sophisticated experience for your users on the web by tailoring your editing scenario to a specific purpose, goal, or organizational strategy. For example, with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, you can do the following:

  • Edit selection-only layers
  • Track edits
  • Control access to features using ownership-based access control
  • Prevent users from editing feature geometry
  • Create, delete, and change geodatabase versions on the fly
  • Edit cartographic representations

Obtaining the REST endpoint of a feature service

You can obtain the REST endpoint, or URL, of a feature service by browsing to the service in the ArcGIS Server Services Directory. For example, the default URL to a feature service in the Services Directory is A zero-based integer can be appended to the URL to reference a particular layer in the service. For example, ending a URL with /0 gives you the first layer in the service.

ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop allows you to edit the data in feature services. The workflow for editing in ArcGIS for Desktop is fundamentally different than editing a feature service through a web application. To learn more, see About editing data from feature services.

Using sync with feature services

Feature services include operations that support disconnected editing workflows. In a disconnected environment, the client (for example, a runtime or mobile device) can make edits locally and synchronize the changes with the server when the client is reconnected to the feature service. This functionality, called sync, is available through the ArcGIS REST API.

For more information about using sync with feature services, see the sync section of the ArcGIS Server REST API Help.

Entering HTML into text fields

When editing a feature service in a client application, you can enter HTML into text fields. For example, when editing a feature in a web client, you can enter styled HTML into a comments field. By default, only the HTML entities and attributes listed in the table below can be entered into feature service text fields. If you attempt to add an unsupported entity or attribute, an error is returned.

If your feature service workflow requires unsupported HTML entities and attributes, you'll need to disable the Filter web content property. This property can be accessed through the feature service Advanced Options dialog box in ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS Server Manager. For more information, see the following:

HTML entityHTML attribute (if applicable)


href, target, style




style, align



size, color, style, face

http, https protocol

src, href



src, width, height, alt, border, style


mailto: protocol

src, href






width, height, cellpadding, cellspacing, border, style



height, width, valign, align, colspan, rowspan, nowrap, style


height, valign, align, style