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What is a feature service?

Feature services allow you to serve features over the Internet and provide the symbology to use when displaying the features. Clients can execute queries to get features and perform edits that can be applied to the server. Feature services provide templates that can be used for an enhanced editing experience on the client. Data from relationship classes and nonspatial tables can also be queried and edited using feature services.


You can publish a feature service to an ArcGIS Server site that is authorized with an ArcGIS Server Basic license, but you can only perform queries on it; you cannot use it for web editing. Refer to the functionality matrix for full licensing requirements for feature services.

The workflow used to create a feature service
To create a feature service, create a map in an ArcGIS Desktop client, publish the map with feature access enabled (ArcMap) or as a feature layer (ArcGIS Pro), and use web, ArcGIS Desktop clients, and apps to access the service.

Common workflows for using feature services

Depending on the editing workflow you want to achieve, the way that you use a feature service will vary. The following are common scenarios to consider:

  • You want to publish a feature service containing data from a single on-premises database or enterprise geodatabase to an ArcGIS Server site. This scenario allows you to quickly set up an editing environment for your clients. When using an enterprise geodatabase, you can also use ArcGIS REST API to create replicas of your data that can be made available to clients for online and offline use. The edits applied to the replicas can then be synchronized with your geodatabase directly from the client.

    For a detailed walk-through of setting up a feature service for use with an enterprise geodatabase, see Tutorial: Perform web editing using data from an enterprise geodatabase.

    For a detailed walk-through for setting up a feature service for use with a database, see Tutorial: Perform web editing using data from a database.

    To learn more about using ArcGIS REST API to create data replicas from a geodatabase and synchronize changes from client applications, see the sync section of the ArcGIS Server REST API Help.

  • You want to publish a feature service to ArcGIS Server using data replicated from an on-premises enterprise geodatabase. This scenario is well suited for web use, as it allows you to maintain a separate copy of your on-premises data on the server for the purpose of web editing. Edits applied to your data on the web can be synchronized with your on-premises data using a geodata service. This service can be automatically created when you publish your feature service to ArcGIS Server. For a detailed walk-through of this scenario, see Tutorial: Perform web editing using replicated data from an enterprise geodatabase.

  • You want to publish a feature service to an ArcGIS Server site on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure and don't have a dedicated on-premises enterprise geodatabase. You can publish local data, such as data from a file geodatabase, and have it copied to an enterprise geodatabase on AWS or Azure. This scenario is useful if you want to quickly set up an editing environment and don't want to invest in hardware to run ArcGIS Server or an enterprise geodatabase. Before publishing your feature service, you'll need to create your site on AWS or Azure and include an enterprise geodatabase as the site's managed database. When you publish, the data referenced by your feature service will be automatically copied into the site's managed database. To learn more about this process, see Copying data to the server automatically when publishing. To learn how to create a site on AWS or Azure, see the ArcGIS Enterprise on Amazon Web Services help or ArcGIS Enterprise on Microsoft Azure help.

If you want to access the data in your enterprise geodatabase or database as read-only features, you can alternatively use a map service. Map services allow you to disable querying or data access. To learn more, see What is a map service?

Required steps for using a feature service

Once you've determined the appropriate editing scenario, you'll need to set up a feature service and publish it to your ArcGIS Server site. The following steps are required:

  1. Assemble your data. If you will be publishing a feature service without copying the data, you need to have your data in an enterprise geodatabase or database.
  2. Prepare the data in your databasefor publishing. This involves connecting to your ArcGIS Server site and registering your database or enterprise geodatabase with the ArcGIS Server site.
  3. Author a map document to be compliant with the feature service. This is a key component to any editing workflow.
  4. Publish your map document as a map service with the Feature Access capability enabled (if publishing from ArcMap). This creates a feature service endpoint through which clients, such as a web app, can access and edit the features in your map.
  5. Consume the feature service in a client application. There are a variety of ArcGIS-compliant client applications available for you to use.