About hosted web layers

You can publish your maps and data as hosted web layers on ArcGIS Online. When you do this, ArcGIS Online takes care of hosting your layers (as services) and scaling to meet demand, hence these are often 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 web layers directly from your desktop without installing your own server.

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

Prerequisites to publish hosted web layers

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

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

Types of hosted web layers

You can publish the following types of hosted web 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.

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 vector tiles and the corresponding style for how those tiles should be drawn. Vector tiles are similar to image tiles, but they store a vector representation of the data. Client-side drawing of vector tiles allows for vector tile layers to be customized for the purpose of the map, which drives dynamic, interactive cartography. 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.

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.

Clients that can use hosted web layers

Hosted web 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 viewers for Flex or Silverlight, or the ArcGIS APIs for JavaScript, Flex, Silverlight, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Other supported client apps include ArcGIS Explorer (online and desktop versions), ArcMap, and ArcGIS Pro.

Access to hosted web layers

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