Services (logic)

At the heart of ArcGIS is a complete set of geospatial capabilities delivered through a services and standards-based architecture. This includes data, visualization, and analysis services that work against a variety of data stores and information models. ArcGIS also includes a central content management and access component called the portal. The ArcGIS portal empowers non-expert “creators” with the ability to create maps, dashboards, and other information products, as well as ensures that content can be reused across applications, delivering both agility as well as efficiency to an organization’s use of geospatial content.

ArcGIS services architecture

For additional context, see the ArcGIS architecture overview.

Services and standards-based architecture

ArcGIS is built on a services-based architecture, which includes numerous standards-based web service interfaces and APIs.

  • Open REST API. ArcGIS includes a complete, rich, and open REST API that delivers a wide range of functionality. This includes ready-to-use location-based services such as basemaps, geocoding, and routing, as well as functional services for data management, visualization, and analysis. The content management and administrative capabilities of ArcGIS are exposed via the ArcGIS REST API as well, enabling a wide range of automation scenarios. Learn more about the ArcGIS REST API.
  • OGC standards support. ArcGIS services support standards published by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). These include support for Web Mapping Services (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), Web Coverage Service (WCS), Web Processing Service (WPS), and more. These open standard service APIs enable ArcGIS services to be consumed by a non-Esri client applications, and integrated into other systems. Learn more about Esri’s support for open geospatial standards.
  • Additional standards and specifications. ArcGIS supports a variety of additional standards and specifications, including but not limited to, standards and specifications related to geospatial technology (for example GeoJSON and ISO 19115 metadata), security and privacy (for example FISMA, FEDRAMP, and GDPR), as well as accessibility (for example WCAG and US Section 508). Esri actively contributes to international standards development processes and has a history of open sourcing its format specifications such as the shapefile and indexed 3D scene layers. Learn more about Esri’s support for standards and specifications.

Geospatial service types

ArcGIS provides a complete set of geospatial services, the majority of which are also accessible via standards-based web service interfaces and APIs. This includes data, visualization, and analysis services.

  • Data services. ArcGIS includes services for collecting, storing, and using data securely and efficiently. These include services that query and access data using both spatial and non-spatial means. ArcGIS data services support spatially referencing or enabling tabular data (for example geocoding and spatial joins), as well as the ability to enrich data with demographic, lifestyle, and other information using location. ArcGIS data services support extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) workflows with rich tools and support for a variety of formats and processors, as well as robust data editing and management capabilities (for example long transaction management, archiving, and auditing). Learn more about data management with ArcGIS.
  • Visualization services. ArcGIS includes services for visualizing just about any form of 2D, 3D, and 4D spatial and imagery data. These include services for interactive, web-based mapping that leverage techniques like caching and tiling, along with client-side advancements like WebGL, to deliver fast, beautiful, and easy-to-use visualizations. ArcGIS also delivers basemaps and other referential data like places and weather through ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. The ArcGIS visualization services support map printing and exporting, enabling the creation of paper maps, including large format maps with rich surrounding elements designed for plotters. ArcGIS also supports a variety of non-map-based visualizations such as graphs and schematics. Learn more about mapping with ArcGIS.
  • Analysis services. ArcGIS includes a wide array of services for analytics, including spatial and imagery analysis of 2D, 3D, and 4D data using ArcGIS’s unparalleled collection of tools, functions, and algorithms. These spatial and imagery analysis capabilities are readily accessible through a variety of interfaces including both desktop modeling and analyst-driven Python and R scripting environments. ArcGIS enables spatial analysis of big data using distributed processing engines designed to work against both large volumes of data at rest as well as high velocity, real-time data in flight. ArcGIS provides rich support for AI and deep learning, including pretrained deep learning models, tools for data engineering, as well as ready-to-use spatial analysis functions built on AI algorithms and techniques. ArcGIS also enables analysis of graph data, bringing link and spatial analysis together into a single experience. Learn more about spatial analytics and data science.

Portal and the web information model

ArcGIS includes a software component referred to as the portal, which provides centralized geospatial content management and access capabilities for ArcGIS. The portal also manages the ArcGIS web information model, including web maps, scenes, layers, and tools, that enable reuse of content across web, mobile, and desktop applications as well as empower content creators within an organization.

  • Portal services. The ArcGIS portal delivers services for user and content management. These include services for user access and management, which work in conjunction with enterprise identity management systems to perform authentication, authorization, and ensure that the users have access to both content and other users as appropriate. The ArcGIS portal empowers users with the creation of web-based content such as maps, scenes, layers, and tools, as well as provides a flexible sharing model that enables collaboration at all levels inside and outside of an organization. ArcGIS portal also include content cataloging and search services, as well as robust, web-based content management and administrative capabilities.
  • Web maps, scenes, layers, and tools. ArcGIS allows you to use, create, and share geographic information throughout your organization, the community, and openly on the web. This information is managed by the ArcGIS portal as items, and includes web maps, scenes, layers, analytics, and apps. Items from different sources can be integrated and combined into new items and shared through websites, mobile apps, and desktops for specific audiences such as citizens, developers, and GIS professionals. Learn about the ArcGIS geoinformation model.
  • Reusing content across apps. The ArcGIS portal and geoinformation model allow geographic information such as maps and layers to be reused across applications. This enables content creators to design and author geographic information once, and then for that content to be reused by other users in a variety of applications. It also enables other content creators to copy, alter, or extend that geographic information for their own needs. The reuse of content across applications delivers efficient, agile, and flexible use of geographic information across an organization. Learn more about the ArcGIS geoinformation model and web maps.
  • Empowering content creators. The ArcGIS portal includes powerful web-based tools for creators that lower the barrier of entry, enabling non-expert users to discover and create geographic information with ease. This can help democratize access to content creation capabilities, and when exposed in a governed way, can help scale the use, adoption, and value that GIS delivers to the organization at large. Learn more about self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing systems and ArcGIS User Types.