A New (Beta) Download Experience in ArcGIS Hub

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05-12-2022 09:50 AM
Emily_Nilson
Esri Contributor
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ArcGIS Hub released a beta capability last week called “hosted downloads,” designed to improve reliability and performance of downloads from hosted servers. In this blog post, we will briefly cover how downloads currently work and what issues hosted downloads aims to solve. Try out the beta capability today and let us know what you think. 

How Do Hub Downloads Work Today?  

Several years ago, before downloads were available in ArcGIS Online, the ArcGIS Hub team pioneered a way for users to download datasets. Today, anonymous users and collaborators can visit a dataset view and download files. Datasets shared to an ArcGIS Hub site that depend on a Feature Service or Map Service can be downloaded in several popular formats such as CSV, KML, SHP, GeoJSON. 

Depending on the configuration of a service, to generate files for download, ArcGIS Hub either pages through a service’s records or creates a File Geodatabase (FGDB). Hub then stores this source file and converts it into other formats like CSV, KML, and SHP. When a user clicks the download button, Hub will check for updates, and generate an updated file if the data has changed. This behavior is the same for Esri-hosted and ArcGIS Enterprise Server services. To learn more about the recommended server configurations, see Server configuration details. 

What Issues do “Hosted Downloads” Aim to Solve? 

With Hub’s use of the new platform capability called “Hosted Downloads,” we are aiming to alleviate the following: 

  • Download timeouts for large datasets, often due to the size and complexity of the data. 
  • Download files that appear out of date, often due to configuration settings. 
  • Error messages that are vague or unclear. 

Hosted Downloads: The Next Generation of Hub Downloads 

This work is part of a larger strategy by ArcGIS Hub to shift key services, including downloads, to run on core ArcGIS platform capabilities. ArcGIS Hub will begin focusing on improvements and expansion of the “Hosted Downloads” experience. 

In contrast to the old system described above, ArcGIS Hub’s use of Hosted Downloads will have several important technical changes: 

  • While in Beta, Hosted Downloads are only available for items that depend on Esri-hosted Feature Server and Map Server services. Support for ArcGIS Enterprise Server is expected in early 2023. 
  • File generation depends directly on a server’s createReplica function. 
  • Each file will contain data for just the layer that a user is viewing. 
  • Each file format is generated independently. 
  • When downloading private content, ArcGIS Hub will not create cached files on a user’s account. 
  • Usage will be rate-limited by the hour. Rate-limiting applies cumulatively to all operations on services within a single organization. 
  • After the ArcGIS Online 10.2 release, downloading a previously generated (and cached) file will not count towards the rate limit. 
  • During the beta period, downloaded files will not have a human-readable filename, but this will be resolved before the new system comes out of beta. 

Hosted Downloads will come with some handy benefits out of the box. Most importantly, downloads will be faster, more reliable, and more performant. Additionally, users will see more file formats such as SQLite Geodatabase, GeoPackage Feature Collection and Excel, widening opportunities and applications for use of various types of data. 

Timeline 

We are excited to make these highly requested performance improvements available to ArcGIS Hub customers as soon as possible. The tentative release timeline is as follows: 

  • May 2022: Hosted Downloads available in beta to try in ArcGIS Hub. 
  • Summer 2022: Enhance the Hosted Downloads capability based on customer feedback. 
  • Early 2023: Expected support for Hosted Downloads in ArcGIS Enterprise Sites. 

To take advantage of this more dependable download system, we encourage customers to switch their services to Esri hosted services.  

Try out Hosted Downloads in Beta 

To try the Hosted Downloads capability, authenticate as a content manager on your ArcGIS Hub site and navigate to the Content Library (found at <your_hub_site_URL>/content/edit). Then, search for an item of interest and click on it to navigate to the item’s Content Details editor. We recommend first testing an item that does not receive a lot of traffic, due to the rate limiting mentioned above. 

Click on the new “Downloads” tab, enable the server “Extract Capabilities” and “Hosted Downloads” settings, and click Save. To enable “Extract Capabilities,” you will need to have privileges to edit the service. This is best accomplished by an organization admin account and the user who created the item. To enable “Hosted Downloads” you will need to have item editing privileges. 

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A new Downloads tab within the Content Details view allows users to enable downloads settings from within ArcGIS Hub.  

 

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Today, users can enable server extract capabilities using the “Export Data” setting on an item within the ArcGIS Online home application. This allows clients like ArcGIS Hub to use the service’s createReplica tool. 

 

Then, click the “X” in the top left to navigate to the content’s live view and open the download sidebar. When users want to download your content, they will see a simplified list of available formats. If you run into issues, you can always disable the “Hosted Download” setting to use the existing Hub download system. 

Let Us Know What You Think! 

We are always open to your feedback, so try out the Hosted Downloads capability in beta and let us know what you think using this survey: https://arcg.is/1aDznW