Difference between Feature Service and Hosted Feature Layer?

10-14-2019 12:10 PM
New Contributor

I am relatively new to the Esri technologies. My question is very simple.. What is the difference between the Feature Service and Hosted Feature Layer?

#feature service(s)‌, hosted feature layer 

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4 Replies
Occasional Contributor

Let me try:

1. Feature service is 'feature accessible' map service published on ArcGIS Server site.

The source of your data has to be a database.

2. While hosted feature layer is spatial data published to ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. 

The source of your data can be: 

Details see: Publish hosted feature layers—Portal for ArcGIS | ArcGIS Enterprise 

BTW, of course you can publish your data from database through SDE connection by ArcGIS Desktop.

Occasional Contributor II

Adding to the comment above:

  • Feature Service: Feature services—Documentation | ArcGIS Enterprise 
    • "Feature services allow you to serve feature data and nonspatial tables over the Internet or your intranet. This makes your data available for use in web clients, desktop apps, and field apps".
    • "As the publisher of a feature service, you determine what functionality is available to the people who use the feature service, define the styling used when displaying the features, and define templates for editing data. When people access your feature service, they can view your data and the data associated with it through relationship classes. They can use your feature service in the maps and apps they create and, if you allow it, they can edit the data in the feature service".
    • "Feature services run on ArcGIS GIS Server sites".
  • Hosted Feature Layer: Hosted layers—Portal for ArcGIS | ArcGIS Enterprise 
    • In regards to an Enterprise Environment, Hosted Feature Layers are stored within the Managed Database (ArcGIS Data Store, dedicated SDE Database) that you register within your site. This is different from Feature Services, where ArcGIS Server stores and runs the service.
    • "Hosted feature layers support vector feature querying, visualization, and editing. Hosted feature layers are most appropriate for visualizing data on top of your basemaps. In web apps, hosted feature layers are drawn by the browser and support interactive highlighting, queries, and pop-ups".

Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions or concerns!


Esri Contributor

This presentation may also help explain these two terms in more detail: Best Practices for Layers and Service Types - YouTube  (see from around 2:25 and a few minutes onwards).

Using the concepts from that presentation a feature service is the raw web service (REST) endpoint found at the functional or GIS Server tier. The feature layer is an item found at the information model or portal tier and sits on top of the raw feature service itself and provides additional features and control.

The two terms are often used a bit imprecisely as synonyms. For the most part the distinction doesn't matter too much but when developing or troubleshooting it can be important to distinguish and understand the difference.

Esri Regular Contributor

One way that I look at it this: