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GIS Servers and services

Types of services in ArcGIS Server

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Last modified March 10, 2008
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By using ArcGIS Catalog, you can connect to ArcGIS Server and publish five types of GIS web services. These include:

The following sections describe each in more detail.

ArcGIS Map service

A map service is the most common ArcGIS service and can contain many capabilities and functions.

Map services certainly support mapping and map viewing, but can also support modeling and geoprocessing, mobile GIS services, and open publishing as OGC WMS and KML. For example, you can use a map service to deploy mobile GIS applications, geoprocessing tools to access geoprocessing services, or a geodata service that enables you to select an area of interest from a geodatabase, checkout the data for editing, and subsequently post the edits back to the original geodatabase.

To create a map service, you need to first create the map document in ArcMap, then publish it as a service as shown below. You can also serve published map files (.pmf's) created using the optional ArcGIS Publisher extension to ArcGIS Desktop.

Using ArcCatalog to publish an ArcMap document as a map service.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Map services in ArcGIS

Map services are extensible

Many optional map service capabilities are enabled by including certain content in your map document. For example, if you want to edit geodatabase layers in a web browser, you add them as map layers in ArcMap and publish the map as a web service. Understanding how to create GIS resources with certain capabilities helps you to leverage the power of ArcGIS Server.

ArcGIS map server capabilities
Capability What is enabled in the map service
WMS Publishes a map service using the OGC WMS protocol.
KML Publishes a map service using the KML protocol that enables the service to be used in Google Earth.
Mobile data access Enables the map to be taken to the field and used in mobile devices.
Network analysis Solves transportation and routing problems as part of your map service.
Geoprocessing Allows you to perform any geoprocessing task as part of your map service.
Geodata access Provides geodatabase transaction support as part of your map service.

As part of the process for publishing an ArcGIS map service, you will be prompted for additional capabilities you would like to enable. By selecting additional capabilities, you create additional URL's for server information access. For example, in the diagram below, you can see a panel in the ArcCatalog process for publishing a map service. The WMS option has been enabled which publishes an additional WMS map service.

Optional map service capabilities that you can enable.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Map services

ArcGIS Geocode service

An address geocoding service is used to send an address to the server and to return a geographic location—such as a point representing a house, a line representing a street, or a polygon representing a parcel.

Geocoding services can be used to match a single address (such as an interactively entered address) or a file containing many addresses.

To create a geocoding service using ArcGIS Server, you reference an Address Locator created in a workspace, such as a geodatabase.

Adding an address locator from the geodatabase as a geocoding service.

Learn more about address geocoding

Many users require the ability to use their own geocoding services. In most cases, they are unable to get by with generic, commercially available geocoding applications for the following reasons:

All of these situations call for specialized geocoding solutions, and many ArcGIS users invest time in building, maintaining, and providing user-specific geocoding services to meet their organization's needs.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Geocode services in ArcGIS

ArcGIS Geoprocessing service

A geoprocessing service is a GIS web service that serves a set of geoprocessing tools, executes a tool on the server, and returns results over the web. Geoprocessing services are used to perform analysis and modeling, and to automate workflows on the server (e.g., to re-build datasets, find errors, and maintain integrity as external updates are made to your shared enterprise geodatabase). Geoprocessing services are used to serve toolboxes containing one or more geoprocessing tools that you author as models or python scripts in ArcGIS.

Publishing a toolbox as a geoprocessing service.

The fundamental purpose of geoprocessing is to allow you to automate your GIS tasks. Almost all uses of GIS involve the repetition of work, and this creates the need for methods to automate, document, and share multiple step procedures known as workflows. Geoprocessing also supports modeling and analysis, enabling you to better understand a problem, situation, or opportunity.

ArcGIS Server provides a simple mechanism that allows users to publish a toolbox of geoprocessing tools on servers and to make these available as tasks that can be executed on the server by many users from their remote client applications.

GIS servers become very powerful when geoprocessing models and scripts can be published as web services. They are accessed and used by many users who apply these tools, regardless of the client applications they use.

Accessing a geoprocessing service as a task in ArcGIS Explorer.

In the example above, a trace is performed on an electrical network to trouble shoot a particular incident. This is initiated as a task in ArcGIS Explorer. A request is sent from Explorer to a geoprocessing service on ArcGIS Server which performs an analysis. The result is returned as a graphical display in the 3D map and as a report on the diagnosis and location of the problem.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Geoprocessing services in ArcGIS

ArcGIS Geodata service

A GIS service that provides access to the contents of a geodatabase for data query, extraction, update, synchronization, and management. Geodata services can reference personal geodatabases (.mdb's), file geodatabases (.gbd's), or ArcSDE geodatabases that are accessed via their connection files (.sde's).

Geodata services are particularly useful in situations where you manage distributed geodatabases in many locations. For example, a company may want to set up ArcSDE geodatabases to manage database replicas in its Los Angeles and New York offices. Once created, each office can publish its ArcSDE geodatabase on the Internet using a geodata service. The geodata services can then be used to periodically synchronize the updates across each geodatabase over the Internet by sharing only the changes between the two database servers.

Using a geodatabase to publish a geodata service in ArcGIS.

A geodata service allows you to access a geodatabase through the LAN, WAN, or Internet using ArcGIS Server. The service enables the ability to perform distributed editing, geodatabase replication operations, make copies using data extraction, and to execute queries on the geodatabase.

A geodata service can be added for any type of geodatabase including ArcSDE geodatabases, personal geodatabases, and file geodatabases. However, ArcSDE geodatabases are preferred for most enterprise settings in order to support security, integrity, performance, and scalability.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Geodata services in ArcGIS

ArcGIS Globe service

Globe documents (.3dd's) are created in the ArcGlobe application (which is part of the optional 3D Analyst desktop extension). They can be published as globe services in ArcGIS Server. A globe service provides access to a 3D globe that you can interact with and integrate with other geographic information.

The notion of being able to publish your own maps and globes is quite powerful and will have major implications as GIS professionals begin to serve their information to their end users. It's like having the ability to publish your own Google Earth-like basemap in 3D that provides up-to-date, focused content for addressing your specific needs. In fact, you can publish and serve many globe services to meet many needs.

You can use globe services in ArcGlobe as well as in the free ArcGIS Explorer and ArcReader applications.

Learn more about using ArcGIS Globe services in ArcGIS

ArcGIS Explorer

ArcGIS Explorer is a new geospatial information viewer, powered by ArcGIS Server. It offers a free, fast, and easy-to-use way to explore geographic information—in both 2D and 3D — with the ability to perform query and analysis tasks on the underlying data.
ArcGIS Explorer integrates server-based geoprocessing applications with GIS datasets by accessing the full GIS capabilities of ArcGIS Server, including geoprocessing and 3D services. ArcGIS Explorer can also use local data layers and services from ArcIMS, ArcWeb Services, OGC WMS, and Google KML, making it open and interoperable.

ArcGIS Explorer is free and can be downloaded and used by anyone for both personal as well as professional use without cost.

ArcGIS Explorer integrates the rich world of GIS and accesses the full GIS capabilities of ArcGIS Server. With ArcGIS Explorer, you can:

A 3D soil map published as a Globe service in ArcGIS Server.
In this example above, a soils map of the world is published and made accessible as a globe service for scientists who need to address a range of agricultural and environmental problems.

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