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Use layers

Portal members add data and publish layers to an ArcGIS Enterprise portal so they can share them with others.

How and where you use a layer depends on the type of layer and what you need to do with it. The following are examples:

Use layers in maps and scenes

You build a map or scene by adding data layers to them and configuring how the layers look and behave in the map or scene. You can add layers you published and layers from other providers such as ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World to the maps and scenes. You can use Open in Map Viewer or Open in Scene Viewer in a layer's item page to open it in Map Viewer or Scene Viewer, respectively, or you can start in Map Viewer or Scene Viewer and add layers there. See Get started with maps and Get started with scenes for overviews of the process to create the maps and scenes you and others can use to interact with your layers.

Feature layers can be used in analysis tools—in Map Viewer and ArcGIS Pro—and custom apps to answer spatial questions, discover patterns, and identify trends.

Use layers in apps

Apps are similar to tools in that many provide focused functionality that allows you to interact with the layers in your portal.

You need to choose the app that meets the needs of the app users. Sometimes, you'll add a layer directly to an app, such as ArcGIS Pro, to use the layer as a basemap, to provide reference information in your map, or to edit or analyze features. In many other cases, you'll create and configure a map or scene containing the layers people need and add that map or scene to an app that provides specific functionality. You can create apps for that purpose, or use out-of-the-box apps such as Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS or GeoPlanner for ArcGIS.

Edit features and tables

Feature and table layers that are configured to allow editing can be added to Map Viewer, where you can edit features or edit attributes in the tables.

These editable layers can be edited in ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap. Editable feature and table layers can also be added to maps that you subsequently include in apps.

The owner of the feature layer or an administrator can also configure maps containing editable feature layers for offline use. The feature layers and the maps must be enabled for offline use. You could then load the map containing the editable, offline-enabled layers into Collector for ArcGIS and collect and edit data while disconnected from the Internet.

Export data from hosted feature layers

You can export CSV files, a Microsoft Excel file, shapefiles, a file geodatabase, GeoJSON files, or feature collections from a hosted feature layer if one of the following is true:

  • You own the features.
  • You are a portal administrator.
  • You aren't the hosted feature layer owner or the administrator, but the owner or administrator has configured the hosted feature layer to allow others to export the data.

    This setting can be changed on the item page Settings tab by checking the Allow others to export to different formats check box under Export Data.

Only nonspatial attributes are exported to a CSV or Excel file when you export a line or polygon layer from a hosted feature layer. When you export a point layer to a CSV or Excel file, latitude and longitude values for the points are exported.

If the layers in the hosted feature layer contain metadata, the metadata is included if you export to a shapefile or file geodatabase.

All exported items are stored in the root folder of My Content.

Follow these steps to export data from the details page of a hosted feature layer or hosted feature layer view:

  1. Sign in and open the item page for the features you want to export.
    • If you own the feature layer, click Content > My Content and click the item title.
    • If you do not own the feature layer, search for the layer, and click the feature layer name in the search results list.
  2. If you want to export individual layers, go to the Layers section of the Overview tab, click Export To under the layer you want to export, and choose the format you want to export. If you want to export all the layers in the hosted feature layer, click the Export Data button on the Overview tab and choose the format you want to export.

    • Export to Shapefile—Creates a compressed file (.zip) containing a shapefile for each layer and its associated metadata (if present) that you export. You can download the file and save it to your computer.
    • Export to CSV file—Creates a comma-separated values file when you export from a layer. You can open the file or save it to your computer. If you export all layers to a CSV file, a CSV collection is created, which is a .zip file containing one CSV file per layer. You can download the .zip file and save it to your computer.
    • Export to Excel—Creates a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can open the file or save it to your computer. If you export all layers to Excel, each layer will be a separate sheet in the spreadsheet.
    • Export to FGDB—Creates a .zip file containing a file geodatabase. The file geodatabase contains a feature class and its associated metadata (if present). You can download the .zip file and save it to your computer. Note that the .zip file uses the name you specify for the Title, but the geodatabase name is randomly generated, and the feature class has the same name as the layer you exported.
    • Export to GeoJSON—Creates a GeoJSON file containing definitions for all layers you export. You can download the file and save it to your computer.
    • Export to Feature Collection—Creates a feature collection item you can open in Map Viewer.

      Choose Generalize features for web display to optimize the layer for web apps. You can only generalize features from layers published in the WGS 1984 Web Mercator (Auxiliary Sphere) coordinate system. Note that exported feature collections that are generalized for web display do not work in desktop and mobile apps.

      Alternatively choose Keep original features if you need to maintain all the precision in your data, or if you intend to use the feature collection in desktop or mobile apps.


If you have privileges to perform spatial analysis, you can also export data from a hosted feature layer or hosted feature layer view that has export enabled, or export data from a feature collection using the Extract Data tool in Map Viewer.