Define a new dataset

To create the schema (field structure) for a new empty feature layer in a feature service, you can define a new dataset. To do so, you use data management tools to define the fields and schema. You typically use this process when you need to publish an empty feature layer that your applications will populate with features. For example, data entry applications or field applications. After it is created, you can manage the service settings with a hosted feature layer (item) in your portal.

Use this approach when you want to:

  • Dynamically specify the field structure of an empty feature layer in a feature service for your applications
  • Store points, polylines, and polygon in a feature layer
  • Store non-spatial data as a standalone table
  • Store string and numeric data in fields
  • Store attachments with features
  • Store and access features in different formats (JSON, GeoJSON, or PBF)

Types of datasets

When you define a new feature layer, you need to determine the data type that best fits your data, workflow, and application needs. ArcGIS supports four different dataset types:

Data typeDescriptionUse
Point layerA feature layer containing point features.Model discrete locations: GPS coordinates, Earthquake epicenters, Hydrants.
Line layerA feature layer containing polyline features.Model phenomena with a length: road centerlines, rivers, oil pipelines
Polygon layerA feature layer containing polygon features.Model phenomena with an area: Parcel boundaries, water bodies, building footprints
TableA feature layer containing non-spatial features.Typically used to store data associated with a spatial feature: Inspection history, owner information, metadata

How to define a new dataset

The general steps to define a new dataset are as follows:

  1. Sign into a data management tool with your ArcGIS account:

  2. Use the tool to define the fields and schema for your feature layer. This creates the following:

    • Hosted feature layer: A new item in your portal to manage the item properties and service settings.
    • Feature layer and feature service: A new feature layer in a feature service for the data.

    The most common next step is to add data to the new feature layer. You can use tools such as the Map Viewer or ArcGIS Pro to add, update, and delete features.

Data hosting
Process to define a new feature layer with the portal

Tools, data, and services

Below is a description of the data management tools you can use to create new feature layers and tables in feature services.

Data management toolInput data sourceInput data formatOutput itemOutput layerData service
ArcGIS portal
ArcGIS Enterprise portal
Hosted feature layer
Layer URL
Feature layer (hosted)Feature layer (hosted)Feature layerFeature service
ArcGIS portal
ArcGIS Enterprise portal
None. You define the geometry type and fields interactively.NoneFeature layer (hosted)Feature layerFeature service


Import data to create a feature layer

Use data management tools to import files and create a feature layer in a feature service.

Define a new feature layer

Use data management tools to define and create a new empty feature layer in a feature service.

Manage a feature layer

Use a hosted feature layer item to set the properties and settings of a feature layer in a feature service.

Create a vector tile service

Use data management tools to create a new vector tile service from a feature service.

Create a map tile service

Use ArcGIS Online or scripting APIs to publish a map tile service.



API support

Use data management tools or Client APIs to create, manage, and access data services. The table below outlines the level of support for each API.

ArcGIS Maps SDK for JavaScript1
ArcGIS Maps SDK for Kotlin1
ArcGIS Maps SDK for Swift1
ArcGIS Maps SDK for Java1
ArcGIS Maps SDK for .NET1
ArcGIS Maps SDK for Qt1
ArcGIS API for Python
Esri Leaflet2
MapLibre GL JS23
Full supportPartial supportNo support
  • 1. Use portal class and direct REST API requests
  • 2. Access via ArcGIS REST JS
  • 3. Requires manually setting styles for renderers


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