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Publishing a service in ArcMap or ArcCatalog

ArcGIS services organize spatial data into functional GIS resources to run on a web server. In this way, services allow many users to simultaneously access and explore data hosted on central server machines and to include this data in their enriched GIS products on the web and on mobile devices. All data you use in ArcGIS Enterprise is made available by GIS services running on your ArcGIS Server sites. ArcGIS Desktop offers many paths to publish GIS services. Although you can publish many types of GIS resources to the server, the steps for publishing a service follow a common pattern.


Services published from ArcMap and ArcCatalog use the ArcMap service runtime. ArcGIS Server 10.9.1 is the last release to support services that use the ArcMap service runtime. Esri recommends that you migrate existing services to the ArcGIS Pro runtime before support ends for the ArcMap services.

The first step in publishing a service from ArcMap or ArcCatalog is identifying which resource you want to publish:


Publish a map document

Open the ArcMap document and choose File > Share As > Service from the main menu.

Publish a geoprocessing model or tool

Browse to a successful result of the model or tool in the Results window, right-click it, and choose Share As > Geoprocessing Service.

Publish something else, such as a geodatabase or address locator

Browse to the item in ArcCatalog or the Catalog window, right-click it, and choose Share As Service.

From this point, you have three choices:

  • Publish a service—If you're ready to publish, you can go through the entire process of connecting to the server and publishing a service. You can save your work as a draft service at any time and come back to it. This topic describes the publishing process.

  • Save a service definition file—To set up all the properties of a service and transfer them to a separate machine for publishing, you can create and save a service definition file. This is occasionally necessary in cloud environments, in secure environments, or when the server is not immediately available.

    Learn more about service definitions

  • Overwrite an existing service—To overwrite an existing service with an updated GIS resource and ancillary data, select this option.

    Learn more about editing services

To publish a new service, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure your data sources for the GIS resource are accessible to the server.
  2. In the Share as Service window, choose Publish a service and click Next.
  3. Choose the ArcGIS Server connection you want to use from the Choose a connection drop-down list. If the server connection you want to use is not listed, you can create a connection by clicking Connect To ArcGIS Server Add ArcGIS Server.

    If you need help with this step, see Connect to ArcGIS Server from ArcGIS Desktop.

    By default, the name of the service is based on the name of the GIS resource.

  4. Optionally, in the Publish a Service window, enter a new name for the service.

    The name cannot be more than 120 characters and cannot contain special characters.

  5. Click Next.

    By default, services publish to the root folder (root) of ArcGIS Server. Services can be organized into subfolders under the root folder.

  6. Choose the folder where you want to publish the service, or create a folder to contain the service, and click Continue.

    The Service Editor appears.


    You cannot publish services to the Hosted, System, or Utilities folders of ArcGIS Server. The System and Utilities folders are reserved for various preconfigured services. The Hosted folder contains hosted services published to ArcGIS Enterprise portals. This folder only displays in ArcGIS Server Manager if your ArcGIS Server site is configured as the portal's hosting server.

  7. Set the properties you want for your service.

    Here you can choose what users can do with your service and take fine-grained control of how the server exposes your service. For details on how to manually set service properties, locate your service in the Types of services section of the help. You can also automatically import properties from an existing service definition or a published service by clicking Import Import. For information about how to best configure your services for deployment, see Tune and configure services.


    If you close the Service Editor during this session, you'll be prompted to save your work as a draft service. Draft services allow you to return to your service configuration work at a later time. By default, draft services are saved in the Drafts folder of your ArcGIS Server connection. For more information, see About draft services.

  8. Click Analyze Analyze.

    This examines your GIS resource to see whether it can be published to the server.

  9. Fix any errors (Error) in the Prepare window.

    This must be done before you can publish your GIS resource as a service. You can fix the warnings and informational messages to further improve the performance and appearance of your service. For more information about resolving these issues, see Analyze your GIS resource.

  10. Optionally, click Preview Preview.

    This gives you an idea of how your service looks when viewed on the web.


    You can register folders and databases with your ArcGIS Server site, thus ensuring that the site can recognize and use your data. If you proceed with the following steps, any data referenced by your service originating from an unregistered folder or database is copied to one of the ArcGIS Server machines at the time that you publish. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that the ArcGIS Server site can access all the data used by the service. For instructions on registering a folder or database with your ArcGIS Server site, see Register your data with ArcGIS Server using ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro.

  11. Once you've fixed the errors and, optionally, addressed any warnings and messages, click Publish Publish.

    If the service you publish is copying data to one of the ArcGIS Server machines, the size of the data and your network bandwidth impact the time it takes to publish.

Your service is now running on the ArcGIS Server site and can be accessed by users and clients on your network. If your ArcGIS Server administrator has allowed web access to the service, your service is also now available on the web.