Publish hosted tile layers

Tile layers published to and hosted on ArcGIS Online support fast visualization of large datasets using a collection of predrawn map images or tiles. Hosted tiles provide geographic context for your operational layers. For example, you might include tiles of streets in your neighborhood to provide a visual reference for the street signs in your feature layer.

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

You can publish a tile layer to be hosted on ArcGIS Online using any of the following methods:

You can build a cache on your tiles automatically when publishing, or build the cache manually after publishing. See Best practices for tile caches for more information.

You must have privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers to publish a map, tile package, feature layer, or service definition file as a hosted tile layer.

Define and publish a map in ArcMap

From ArcMap, you can publish a tile layer to be hosted on ArcGIS Online. An Internet connection is required to perform these steps.

The speed and bandwidth of your connection affect how fast the service will be published.

  1. Start ArcMap and open the map you want to publish.
  2. Sign in to ArcGIS Online with an organizational account that has privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers.
    1. Click File > Sign In.
    2. Type your user name and password for ArcGIS Online and click Sign In.
  3. Now, publish the map.
  4. Click File > Share As > Service.
  5. Choose Publish a service and click Next.
  6. In the drop-down list of connection types, choose My Hosted Services. Then type a name for your tiles and click Continue.
  7. Set the properties you want in the Service Editor. Here, you can choose what users can do with your tiles, and take fine-grained control of how the server will expose them.

    For information on how to best configure your tiles for deployment, see Tuning and configuring services in the ArcGIS for Server help. Some of the properties referenced in that topic apply only to ArcGIS for Server and are not applicable when working with hosted tile layers. For example, with tile layers hosted on ArcGIS Online, there is no option to set the minimum and maximum number of instances of the service, because Esri handles the service scaling for you.

  8. There are a few properties you need to set that are specific to hosted tile layers. These are detailed in the following steps.
  9. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Capabilities, and check Tiled Mapping to expose your map as a tile layer. Check Feature Access to publish a feature layer with your tiles if you want to configure pop-ups for the layer when you add it to the map viewer.

    You can click the subitem Tiled Mapping in the left pane of the Service Editor to set advanced properties relating to what clients can do with the published tile layer.

  10. Click the Caching item to set properties for the tile cache. See Creating a map cache in the ArcGIS for Server help for more detailed steps, keeping in mind that some of the advanced caching settings are only available when publishing directly to ArcGIS for Server.
  11. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Item Description and provide a summary and tags for your tile layer. You'll need to enter this information before you can publish. For more information, see the item description section in Setting map service properties in the ArcGIS for Server help.
  12. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click ArcGIS Online, and choose with whom the hosted tile layer should be shared. By default, your hosted tile layer is private, meaning it is only accessible to you. Your tile layer will always be visible in My Content, but you can also choose to share it with everyone or just members of certain ArcGIS Online groups.
  13. In the Service Editor, click Analyze Analyze.

    This examines your map to see if it can be published. You must fix the Errors Error in the Prepare window before you can publish. Optionally, you can fix the warnings and informational messages to further improve the performance and appearance of your published tiles. For more information about resolving these issues, see Analyzing your GIS resource in the ArcGIS for Server help.

  14. Optionally click Preview Preview in the Service Editor. This can give you an idea of how your tile layer will look when viewed on the web.
  15. Once you've fixed the errors and optionally any warnings and messages, click Publish Publish.

Once your tiles are published to ArcGIS Online, you'll see them when you expand the My Hosted Services node in the Catalog window.

Your hosted tile layer is listed as two independent items on the My Content page of the ArcGIS Online website: Tiles and a Service Definition. A service definition is a zipped file containing the map, its data, and details about how the tiles should be published. A service definition can be transferred and published to any machine running ArcGIS 10.1 for Server or later .

Define and publish a map in ArcGIS Pro

From a map in ArcGIS Pro, you can publish a tile layer to be hosted on ArcGIS Online. An Internet connection is required to perform these steps.

The speed and bandwidth of your connection affect how fast the service will be published.

Also note that web browsers cannot display some of the more complex cartographic symbols you might have originally used when you authored the map. Most symbol types are available, but in some cases, the symbols may be downgraded when you publish them. See Author feature services in the ArcGIS for Server help for more details about what symbols are supported, and make any required changes to your map symbology prior to publishing.

  1. Start ArcGIS Pro and open the project that contains the map you want to publish.
  2. Sign in to your organization from ArcGIS Pro using an account that has privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers.
  3. Click Web Layer in the Share As group on the Share tab.
  4. Type a name for the tile layer. The layer is saved to My Content by default. You can save to a folder within My Content by either typing the folder name or browsing to an existing folder.
  5. Choose Tiles for the Layer Type.
  6. Provide a summary and tags for the tile layer.
  7. Specify how the tile layer will be shared. All layers you publish are automatically shared to your personal workspace in your organization (My Content). Your content is inaccessible to others until you share it with one or more of the following:
    • The name of your organization—You will see this option if you are signed in with an organizational account. Choosing this option allows the layer to be shared with all authenticated users in the organization.
    • Everyone—Choosing this option makes the layer available to the public.
    • Groups—You can share the layer with members of groups to which you belong.
  8. Click the Configuration tab to specify cache settings.
    1. Resize and drag the Level of Detail bar to indicate minimum and maximum scale for your tile layer.

      The estimated size of the resultant cache changes as you change the minimum and maximum scale.

    2. Choose to Build cache automatically at the time of publishing the layer, or Build cache manually after the layer is published.

      Open the tile layer in ArcGIS Online after the layer is published to build the cache manually.

  9. Click the Content tab to confirm the tile layer will include the data layers you intended.
  10. Click Analyze to check for any errors or issues.

    If any issues are discovered, they will be listed on the Messages tab. Right-click each message to get more information, read help for the error or warning, and access suggested fixes. You must fix the errors before you can publish. Optionally, you can fix the warnings to further improve the performance and appearance of your hosted tile layer.

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

When publishing completes, you can click Manage the web layer to open ArcGIS Online.

Build and share a tile package in ArcMap and publish

ArcMap allows you to build tiles for a map document and store them in an easily transferrable tile package (.tpk) file. You can create a tile package in ArcMap, share it to ArcGIS Online, and publish it as a hosted tile layer. This workflow allows you to build the tiles using your own computing power rather than your ArcGIS Online credits.

Two different workflows are described below. The first can be used for small to moderately sized tile packages and will preserve elements of the map document, such as the legend and text elements, when the tiles are published from the tile package. The second workflow is recommended when publishing large tile packages but maintains only the data when tiles are published from the tile package.

Follow these steps to publish a small to moderately sized tile package:

  1. Open your map in ArcMap.
  2. Sign in with an organizational account that has privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers.
  3. Click Customize > ArcMap Options > Sharing and ensure that Enable ArcGIS Runtime tools is checked.

    This enables the menu option you'll use in the next step.

  4. In ArcMap, click File > Share As > Tile Package.
  5. Configure all the settings in the substeps below. Other settings are left to your choosing.
    1. On the Tile Package tab, choose Upload package to my ArcGIS Online account.
    2. On the Tile Format tab, choose ArcGIS Online / Bing Maps / Google Maps as the Tiling Scheme.
    3. On the Item Description tab, provide the items marked as required.
    4. On the Sharing tab, you can choose to share the package with the public or specific groups.
  6. Click Share.

    You may be prompted to save your map before the tile package can be created.

    It can take a while for a tile package to be generated, especially if you have included large scales.

  7. When your tile package has finished generating, sign in to ArcGIS Online using your organizational account and click My Content.
  8. Click your tile package to display its item details page.
  9. Click Publish.
  10. Type a title and tags and click Publish.

The tiles are unpacked and hosted as a tile layer on ArcGIS Online. You should be able to see the map tiles in My Content.

Once you have verified the tile layer is present and working, you can optionally delete the original tile package so that you don't have to pay credits to store it.

To build and share large tile packages, Esri recommends that you use the Tile Cache toolset instead of using the previous workflow. These tools can take advantage of multiple processing cores.

Execute these tools in the following order:

  1. Run Generate Tile Cache Tiling Scheme to define the tiling grid and image format.
  2. Run Manage Tile Cache to build the tiles.
  3. Run Export Tile Cache to create the tile package.
  4. Run Share Package (in the Package toolset) to upload the tiles onto ArcGIS Online.

Note that you will have to specify a feature layer with the hosted tile layer if you want to configure pop-ups.

Build a tile package in ArcGIS Pro and upload to your organization

Use the Create Map Tile Package geoprocessing tool to create a tile package, add the package to your organization, and publish a tile layer.

  1. Open the project that contains the data you want to package.
  2. Open and run the Create Map Tile Package geoprocessing tool.
  3. When your tile package has finished generating, sign in to ArcGIS Online using an organizational account that has privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers, and click My Content.
  4. Add the tile package From my computer.
  5. Check the box to Publish this file as a hosted layer.
  6. Type a title and tags and click Add Item.

The tiles are unpacked and hosted as a tile layer on ArcGIS Online. You should be able to see the map tiles and tile package in My Content.

Once you have verified the tile layer is present and working, you can optionally delete the original tile package so that you don't have to pay credits to store it.

Build and publish a vector tile package

Starting with release 1.2, ArcGIS Pro allows you to build vector tiles for a map and store them in an easily transferrable vector tile package (.vtpk) file. You can share a vector tile package from ArcGIS Pro to your organization and publish the uploaded vector tile package as a hosted tile layer. Use the resultant hosted tile layer for basemaps in the map viewer or custom applications.

  1. Open the ArcGIS Pro project that contains the map vector data you want to package into tiles and publish.
  2. Sign in to your ArcGIS Online organization from ArcGIS Pro using an account that has privileges to create content.
  3. Use the Create Vector Tile Package geoprocessing tool to create a vector tile package.
  4. You have two options for adding the vector tile package to your organization and publishing a tile layer.
  5. If your vector tile package is over 2GB, follow these steps to add and publish the package:
    1. Run the Share Package geoprocessing tool to add the vector tile package to your organization.
    2. Sign in to ArcGIS Online using your organizational account and open My Content. You must have privileges to publish hosted tile layers.
    3. Click your tile package to display its item details page and click Publish.
    4. Type a title and tags and click Publish.
  6. If your vector tile package is smaller than 2GB, you can use the previous method to add to your organization and publish a tile layer, or you can sign in to the organization and add the vector tile package.
    1. Sign in to ArcGIS Online using your organizational account and click My Content. You must have privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers.
    2. Click Add Item > From my computer.
    3. Browse to the location of the vector tile package file (.vtpk).
    4. Leave Publish this file as a hosted layer checked.
    5. Type a title and tags and click Add Item.

The vector tiles are unpacked, and a hosted tile layer is created. You can see the tile layer in My Content and add it to the map viewer.

Publish from a hosted feature layer

You can publish a hosted tile layer to ArcGIS Online using an existing hosted feature layer. This is a useful workflow if you do not have ArcGIS products installed locally. For example, you can publish a shapefile as a hosted feature layer, and publish that hosted feature layer as a hosted tile layer.

Follow these steps to publish a hosted tile layer from a hosted feature layer:

  1. Sign in with an organizational account that has privileges to publish hosted tile layers, and click My Content.
  2. To publish, do one of the following:
    • Click the hosted feature layer you want to publish and click Publish.
    • Click Create > Tile Layer and choose a Feature Layer to publish as tiles.
  3. Type a title, tags, and summary, and choose a folder for the hosted tile layer.
  4. Choose whether the layer's spatial reference matches ArcGIS Online basemaps (which uses Web Mercator) or matches Another tile layer of your choosing.
    • If you choose ArcGIS Online basemaps, specify the range of scales at which the layer will appear on the map.
    • If you choose Your own custom tile layer basemap, provide a URL to any existing ArcGIS Server tile layer.
  5. Optionally, change the range at which the layer will display by choosing scales from the Visible Range drop-down lists.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Check the boxes next to the scales at which you would like to generate tiles. Then click Create Tiles.
  8. Review the message about how many tiles will be created. If you still want to proceed, click Yes, create tiles.

Publish from a service definition file

Another way to share tile layers and data with others is to create a service definition file and upload it to ArcGIS Online.

Create a service definition file

The map author should follow these steps to create a service definition file containing the data and symbology required for a tile layer that will be hosted on ArcGIS Online.

  1. Start ArcMap and sign in with an organizational account.
  2. Create and save a map.

    For information on creating and publishing a map, see the map service topics in the ArcGIS help.

  3. Now, create a service definition file.
  4. Click File > Share As > Service.
  5. Choose to Save a service definition file and click Next.
  6. Click Choose a connection and choose My Hosted Services from the drop-down list.
  7. Type a name for the file and click Next.
  8. Specify in which directory on the client machine to create the service definition file and click Continue.

    The Service Editor opens.

  9. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Caching.
  10. Choose a Tiling Scheme.
  11. Choose the minimum and maximum scales for the tiles and Calculate Cache Size.
  12. Click Build cache manually after the service is published.
  13. Optionally, click Advanced Settings and set additional cache settings for the tile cache.
  14. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Item Description and provide information for your tile layer.

    You must provide at least a summary and tags before you can create the service definition file.

  15. Click Analyze Analyze to be sure there are no errors.

    You must fix any errors before you can stage the service definition file. Optionally, you can make corrections for any warnings and messages returned.

  16. Once you've fixed the errors and optionally any warnings and messages, click Stage Stage.

The service definition file is saved in the location you specified.

Load the service definition and publish

Once you obtain the service definition file from the author, you can upload it to My Content on ArcGIS Online and publish a tile layer.

  1. Sign in with an organizational account that has privileges to create content and publish hosted tile layers, and open My Content.
  2. Click Add Item.
  3. Choose to load the file from your computer.
  4. Click the browse button and choose the service definition file.
  5. Check Publish this file as a service.
  6. Type tag terms separated by commas.

    Tags are words or short phrases that describe your item and improve its findability. Federal land is considered one tag, while Federal,land is considered two tags.

  7. Click Add Item to add the service definition file and publish the tile layer.

    The tile layer is published, and both the service definition and the tiles are added to My Content.

  8. When the tile layer has been published, you will be given the option to Start building tiles. Click that link to create the tiles.

By default, only you have access to the service definition file and hosted tile layer. You can share the file and tiles with the public, others in your organization, or specific groups.