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ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS Internet server are Esri products that enable organizations to put maps, data, and tools on the Internet. ArcGIS Servers can also be accessed over your local area network. Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), Web Mapping Service (WMS) is an OpenGIS standard specification for interactive mapping based on requesting map images from a server over the Internet. OGC WMS client support in ArcGIS Explorer enables you to access these services over the Internet and add them to your maps as layers. In addition to these kinds of GIS services, ArcGIS Explorer provides support for accessing GeoRSS services that provide syndicated, geographically tagged content.

When you connect to an ArcGIS, ArcIMS, WMS, or GeoRSS server, you can browse the services available on that server. These servers let you add data to your maps using the Internet. For example, if you add an ArcIMS service to ArcGIS Explorer as a layer, it will automatically retrieve the data from the service over the Internet each time that layer is drawn. This saves you from having to store and manage the data yourself. You'll see a dialog box that provides a means of connecting to or accessing the data source. It's important to know the URL of the data source. The data provider, your system administrator, or the responsible organization may have provided it to you.

Some services may be password protected. To access secure ArcGIS, ArcIMS, or WMS services, you have to provide a user name and password when you make the connection to the server. This is how you access services that are provided on a subscription-only basis.

Once you connect to a server, you'll see a list of services and folders containing services that you can add to your map.

To connect to a GIS service
  1. On the Home tab, in the Map group, click Add Content and select GIS Services...
  2. If you've not established a connection to the GIS Service, click New Server Connection. If you've already established a connection, double-click its name.

  3. Choose one of the service types: ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, WMS, or GeoRSS.
    If you are working with GeoRSS feeds, the workflow is different than the steps that follow.
    Learn more about subscribing to GeoRSS Services

  4. In the Server text box, enter the information to connect to the server, for example, the URL.

  5. If required, specify the User name and password.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Choose a service and then click Add Service. Note that the organization of the services will reflect the server's configuration, what type of service you've specified, and the content available, as this illustration of three different sites shows:

  8. The service appears that you've selected appears in the Contents window. Note that the service layer may have sub-layers.
  9. Learn more about working with sub-layers