Desktop application for editing feature services

03-21-2017 10:37 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor III


So, we've all had good and bad experiences with editing features online in a browser. For point features this is no problem, but as soon as you move over to polylines and polygons it becomes a struggle to make the simplest of edits. This is no fault to ESRI, it's just that the browser technology is not advanced enough to perform those actions. 

What if we could remove the browser out of the way? And utilize the full power of desktop application? This is my suggestion - ESRI should consider creating an application that's a cross between ArcReader and Operations Dashboard. Let's call it "Arc Desktop Feature Services Editor" for now... 

This would be a light weight desktop installation that is able to open Web Maps for AGOL or Portal, if the web maps contain feature services (editing) then the user gets an edit option that looks exactly the same as the current web browser edit toolbar. It's an application for the masses, the non GIS personnel - a simple interface that they can't break any data, and can easily learn. 

Similar ideas have been posted:

Add Simple Edit Capabilities to ArcGIS Explorer Desktop 


Desktop Basic Editing Feature Layer 

but I didn't think that they captured the full potential. 

Let's get this idea reviewed and see what happens from there. 




Have you tried editing feature services in ArcGIS Pro?  

Add a feature service for editing—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop 

Note that web feature layers (feature services) support editing: Web feature layer—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop 

You can also add an entire web map to Pro like you mention above: Add maps and scenes to a project—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop 

Please let us know if this addresses the need for a desktop app to edit feature services.  If not, provide specific details about why editing feature services in Pro isn't the solution, and why a different solution would be needed.


Hi Kory,

That's great that there's already a solution out there...

I'll look into using ArcGIS Pro in a little more details. However, I doubt that it will meet the requirements I specified in this idea... the reasons being:

  1. ArcGIS Pro is a licensed application - therefore there's additional costs involved. Currently, we can the named user licenses in Portal, this too carries costs, and currently we can have the limited online editing with the Portal licensing cost - not sure if we would consider additional costs of Pro for the same end-user functionality of simple editing. The idea is to have the "Web App" functionality in a desktop application in order to make the editing experience more user friendly... some of the more user friendly ideas are:
    1. Have a "Post" functionality so that the user can makes edits, save it locally (or versioning) and then post the changes once they are sure about the information they've changed
    2. Support for complex linestyles and polygon styles
  2. ArcGIS Pro is complicated... sure, not to us experienced GIS users... we understand the functionality and how to move around the application, but for the average user - the non-GIS person, this will require intense training and most of our users don't want that and because of that they won't use it. We can't expect to bring all the users in a company to the same level as an ArcGIS beginner user. 
    1. We were using ArcGIS Publisher and ArcReader before the days of the Portal (still some departments on the system currently) - I'm not surprised how little training is required for the users, with no GIS knowledge, in order for them to pick up and use ArcReader. The application is simple. "Double click the shortcut I put on their desktop, click here to turn on and off layers. Here is a measure tools, and here you can print". Done. The Portal requires much more training... that's why some departments don't want to make the switch... think about that one... 

If the functionality exists in ArcGIS Pro, then the technology already exists... it shouldn't be too hard to simplify the technology for the non-GIS users. Should it?

Thanks for the quick response,



So you're looking for something similar to ArcReader for ArcGIS Pro, correct?

But you also want to have the ability for users to make simple edits in that application?

What kind of edits - attribute only, or attribute and geometry?  

From this most-recent comment, it sounds like you have already explored the editing capabilities of services directly in ArcGIS Online, correct?  What is the limiting factor there - what specifically is lacking from ArcGIS Online editing capabilities that would need to be added to meet your requirements?


I have created all of my ArcGIS online feature services in ArcMAP and published them.  The features come from SDE. 

We save all of our MXD's in a cache directory so all the GIS Techs can access them.  You can open the MXD and edit just like you want to as it is using ArcMap

Essentially whatever program you use to build and publish should allow you access to editing if your set up correctly.

However, it is best to NOT give everyone access to this power.


Hey Kory,

Yip, that's pretty much exactly what I'm looking for, a simple desktop editing application with the ability to only edit geometry and attributes. One should be able to set the same rules as one can in the web map applications - for example block users from editing certain fields.

The ArcGIS Online abilities are limiting in the sense of lack of tools for editing, there aren't any advanced functions. But the most limiting aspect is the user friendliness - it's very slow and in the browser difficult to select features. The attribute pops up the whole time even if its set to off, manipulating a large dataset (8000 records) with multiple vertices is slow and time consuming. Probably the worst thing is that edits are made in real time, there's no "check-out" and "check-in" functionality... so the users can't save their progress and come back to it the next day and then only post the changes. (I am aware of the versioning, and it does work to some extent to help with this problem). The other issue is the line styles, any form of customized linestyles and the the web application in editing mode displays it as a thick black line. 

I still need the time to look at ArcGIS Pro, to see if I can limit the functionality and determine how complex the editing would be. 




Hi Robert,

I agree with your comment that this should not be given to everyone. Also, this requires a lot of training in GIS to be able to do this. There's no control to limit the user from doing whatever they please, which is why this solution would not work for us.

Thanks for the comment though,