Skip To Content

About hosted layers

In this topic

You can publish your maps and data as hosted layers to ArcGIS Online. When you do this, ArcGIS Online takes care of hosting your layers and the data that populates them. Hence, these are called hosted layers. Web, desktop, and mobile apps can access your ArcGIS Online hosted layers from anywhere on the Internet if you choose to allow it. You can publish hosted layers directly from your desktop without installing your own server.

ArcGIS Online hosted layers are useful when you need to expose a map or dataset on the web, but you do not have your own GIS Server site. It's also an easy way to share certain maps with an Internet audience if your own GIS Server site cannot be made public.

Prerequisites to publish hosted layers

You must have the following to publish hosted layers to ArcGIS Online:

  • An account that is part of an ArcGIS Online organization
  • Privileges to create content and publish hosted layers
  • An ArcGIS client (if you want to publish hosted layers from ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro)


    Definition queries you apply to layers in ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro are also applied to the published hosted layers. However, all data is uploaded to ArcGIS Online. If you want only a subset of the data to be published to and stored in ArcGIS Online, you must export the subset of the data to another feature class and publish that.

Types of hosted layers

You can publish the following types of hosted layers:

Feature layers

Hosted feature layers support vector feature querying, visualization, and editing. Hosted feature layers are most appropriate for visualizing data on top of your basemaps. In web apps, hosted feature layers are drawn by the browser and support interactive highlighting, queries, and pop-ups.

See Publish hosted feature layers for more information.

Once you've published a hosted feature layer, you can create views of the data in the feature layer. Hosted feature layer views reference the same data as the hosted feature layer used to create the view, but you can apply different editing, sharing, and other settings to the view. See Create hosted feature layer views for more information.

WFS layers

Hosted WFS layers are read-only, OGC-compliant views of hosted feature layers. A hosted WFS layer and the hosted feature layer from which you publish it share the same data and initial metadata.

See Publish hosted WFS layers for more information.

Tile layers

Hosted tile layers support fast map visualization using a collection of predrawn map images, or tiles. These tiles are created and stored on the server after you upload your data. Hosted tile layers are appropriate for basemaps that give your maps geographic context.

See Publish hosted tile layers for more information.

Vector tile layers

A vector tile layer references a set of web-accessible tiles containing 2D and 3D content and the corresponding style for how those tiles should be drawn. The combination of tile access performance and vector drawing allows the tiles to adapt to any resolution of the display, which may vary across devices.

See the Build and publish a vector tile package section of Publish hosted tile layers to learn how to create a hosted vector tile layer.

WMTS layers

Hosted WMTS are OGC-compliant views of hosted tile layers. All hosted tile layers on ArcGIS Online that are shared with the public can be accessed using the OGC WMTS protocol. The publisher of the hosted tile layer does not have to perform any special operations to enable WMTS. To access a hosted tile layer using the WMTS protocol, open the layer's details page and open the URL for the tile layer. The page that opens contains a WMTS URL link to the WMTS capabilities document that can be used to access layer tiles in apps that support WMTS.

Scene layers

Hosted scene layers support fast map visualization of three-dimensional data using a collection of cached tiles.

See Publish hosted scene layers for more information.

Elevation layers

Hosted elevation layers are imagery layers that have been rendered as cached image tiles in the Limited Error Raster Compression (LERC) format. They provide customized elevation surfaces in your scenes to provide heights for the 3D layers in your scenes.

See Publish hosted elevation layers for more information.

Hosted layer dependencies

Hosted layers have dependencies on the items from which you create them. For example, if you publish a hosted feature layer from a shapefile you uploaded, you cannot delete the shapefile until you delete the hosted feature layer. If you publish a hosted feature layer from ArcGIS Desktop, a service definition file is created and added to My Content. You cannot delete the service definition file until you delete the hosted feature layer.

Similarly, if you publish other hosted layers from a hosted feature layer, you create a dependency between the layers. You can publish all of the following from a primary hosted feature layer:

  • Hosted tile layer
  • Hosted WFS layer
  • Hosted scene layer
  • Hosted feature layer view

These dependent hosted layers have a relationship with the hosted feature layer from which you create them.

  • Hosted WFS and feature layer views reference the data in the hosted feature layer used to publish them; therefore, they are entirely dependent on the hosted feature layer for access to the data.
  • Hosted tile layers are dependent on the visible range you set on the hosted feature layer; you cannot build tiles at a scale that falls outside the visible range of the hosted feature layer from which you published it.
  • Dependent layers and their primary hosted feature layer must have the same owner. As an administrator, reassign ownership of the primary hosted feature layer first. When you do that, ownership of all dependent layers (and the file used to generate the primary hosted feature layer) will be owned by the same member.
  • You must delete all dependent layers before you can delete the hosted feature layer from which you created them.

These dependencies extend to layers you publish from hosted feature layer views. You can publish a hosted tile layer or hosted scene layer from a hosted feature layer view. These dependent hosted layers are related to both the view and the hosted feature layer from which the view was created. You must delete the dependent hosted tile and scene layers before you can delete the hosted feature layer view.

The Created from value under Details on the hosted layer's item page tells you which layer or file was used to publish the hosted layer. The Published as and Other Views values indicate what other hosted layers have been published or views created from the hosted feature layer.

Clients that can use hosted layers

Hosted layers communicate through the well-known GeoServices REST Specification and can consequently be used by Esri and third-party apps. An easy way to view your services is through the map viewer, but you can also make your own app using the ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, configurable apps, or Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. Other supported client apps include ArcGIS Explorer (online and desktop versions), ArcMap, and ArcGIS Pro.

Access to hosted layers

By default, hosted layers are private when you publish them and are only accessible to the person who published them. Hosted layers do not appear in search results and aren't part of any group by default. You can choose to make your hosted layers available to specific groups on ArcGIS Online, or you can even make them available to the general public. See Manage hosted layers to learn more.