Skip To Content

Mobile data services

A mobile data service allows an ArcGIS Mobile application to gain access to the source data of a map document through a web service. To create a mobile data service, you first need to create a map document containing the data you want to be accessible, and then share the map as a service with the Mobile Data Access capability enabled.

Preparing the map document

ArcGIS for Desktop provides a full range of tools for you to author a map document with desirable layers rendered appropriately to serve your specific purpose. However, mobile web services are designed to be consumed by mobile apps running on field devices such as Tablet PCs and Windows CE/Windows Mobile devices. Some of these devices have hardware limitations in display, memory, and processing power. As a result, there are guidelines that you may want to observe to make the map document suitable for mobile apps.

A general principle to follow when creating a map document is to make it simple. For example, you should consider data generalization, such as polygon smoothing and reduced raster resolution, for background or reference layers. This will allow your maps to be drawn faster. Also, it's recommended that you simplify the map symbology, since the display sizes of the devices are normally limited.

Although a wide variety of data formats are supported for display in your mobile apps, only enterprise geodatabase data will give your mobile apps the ability to post updates back to the server.


Before publishing a map document as a mobile data service in ArcGIS Server, you must ensure that a custom map extent is defined in ArcGIS for Desktop. By default, the full extent of the map document data frame is a union of all layers, which allows the extent of the data frame to change when data is added or removed. However, any map document participating in a mobile data service must be fixed, since the service synchronizes data between the client and server. If the extent of the mobile service on the client does not match that of the server, synchronization will fail.

For more information about preparing the map document for mobile data access, see How to design and create mobile maps using ArcGIS Desktop.

Publishing the map document as a mobile data service

To create a mobile data service, you need to publish a map service and enable the Mobile Data Access capability. Follow the steps in Publishing a map service, keeping in mind the following:

  • When choosing the capabilities for your map service on the Service Editor, check Mobile Data Access along with any other capabilities you want to enable.
  • Note the URL of the mobile data service. The URL is displayed on the Mobile Data Access tab of the Service Editor.

For more information on configuring advanced properties for the service, see Tuning and configuring services.

Consuming a mobile data service

Mobile data services are intended primarily for use within your own organization. Mobile data services are accessed through the SOAP protocol in apps that you build with ArcGIS Mobile. These can be either out-of-the-box or custom apps.


Mobile data services also have some limited exposure through REST for the purpose of making them searchable and browsable in the ArcGIS Services Directory; however, there is no REST API for working with the mobile data service in a client application. The ArcGIS APIs for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone can view map services through REST without the Mobile Data Access capability enabled. If you want to enable REST-ful editing of features in these applications, you can enable the Feature Access capability on the map service.

When consuming mobile data services programmatically, you'll need to know the URL.

The URL of a mobile data service takes the following format:

For example, if you publish a mobile web service LandUse under a folder CityFolder (which is optional) in your ArcGIS Server gisserver running on port 6080, the URL for mobile applications would be as follows:

You can connect to and preview this mobile web service in ArcCatalog or preview the XML file returned from this server by typing the following URL in the web browser:

In a typical scenario, you create a map document and publish it to ArcGIS Server as a mobile data service. The service URL is then used by your mobile app to connect to and retrieve data from ArcGIS Server. You can then use the handheld device running this mobile app in fieldwork, in either connected mode or disconnected mode. Both modes allow you to retrieve and update spatial and attribute information in your local cache. These updates will be posted back to server inventory when the fieldwork is completed.

If you intend to synchronize map data from the field to the office, it is important to define the server host name so that field access can be achieved by the device. For example, if the server is located on your DMZ, ensure that you use an Internet connection to the external-facing server name when specifying the URL in Manager or your mobile application (…).

For more information about consuming mobile data services and building mobile apps, see the ArcGIS Mobile Help.