The Secret Way to Create an Empty Feature Service to Use with ArcGIS Online

Blog Post created by KKramer-esristaff Employee on May 14, 2015
Have you ever wanted to create an empty feature service to use in ArcGIS Online, and found yourself stuck with no easy way to get this done? If you’re asking why in the world anybody would want to do this, this blog may not be for you – but keep reading anyway, because you may find new ways to leverage your ArcGIS Online account!

There are cases where you are planning on going out and collecting data, maybe using the Collector app … the point is, you don’t have any existing features. However, you need to provide the structure and format that field staff, volunteers, or community members use to add data to the feature service.

Since you’re using ArcGIS Online, your natural instinct is to go to the documentation and search for “create empty feature service.” You find a section of documentation called Publish an empty hosted feature layer. Steps 1 and 2 go by quickly - no sweat. But then you get to Step 3 and you can't go forward. You find yourself saying things like, “I don’t have an existing feature layer that is right,” or “this template just doesn’t work at all for what I want to do. It’s going to take way too much time to get this to work. This should be easier. Sigh.”Pssst…  Here’s the secret. Every named user for an ArcGIS Online Organization account has access to developers.arcgis.com. Go to the website and sign in from the upper-right corner using your ArcGIS Online Organization username and password. Once signed in, you will see options to the left of your profile. Hover over the options until you see Hosted Data.

My Hosted Data section of developers.arcgis.com

Once in Hosted Data, you will find the answer that you’ve been looking for: a super quick, super simple way to create an empty feature service. Clicking either 'Create a Feature Service' or 'New Feature Service' will launch the same wizard to guide you through the process.

Enter the service’s Title, Description, Geometry Type, and Tags. Also be sure to set the service’s Default Extent.

New Feature Service section of developers.arcgis.com

In Step 2 of the wizard, add the Field Alias, Field Name, and Data Type for each field of the service. Fields can be marked as Required or left as optional.

Create Fields section of developers.arcgis.com

Select the renderer for your new service. Renderers define the visual display of your data when you are using the ArcGIS SDKs as well as how the service will look when initially added to the map viewer. You can override your chosen renderer in the SDKs and map viewer at any time. View this service in the ArcGIS.com map viewer to configure a custom renderer.

Review and publish your service.

Review and Publish service section of developers.arcgis.com

Your service has been published and is ready for data collection. Add it to ArcGIS Online and give it a spin!

Edit empty feature service from developers.arcgis.com in ArcGIS Online

Kory K. - Desktop Analyst - Support Services