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Create Project Template Packages All Data?

11-01-2016 09:44 AM
Occasional Contributor II

I am trying to Create a Project Template (Using Share=>Project Template) and it is packaging all of my Basemap layers to the Project. I want my custom basemap to be linked locally (like it is currently in the project), not packaged up.


I have a custom basemap that I created with the 2016 Business Analyst dataset.  The basemap data are stored locally on my C: drive and were added through Insert => Add Data button on the ribbon to my Basemap layer within the project. My project consists of a map (with custom basemap layer added), a custom basemap, and a layout (customized legend, map frame, etc). I am trying to create a template that incorporates these elements, so that myself and others can create consistent maps with everything already setup and ready to go. (This was very easy to do in ArcMap with a premade mxd)


According to: Project package—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS for Desktop

"unchecking the Share outside of organization option is a good choice. Enterprise database data, UNC path data, styles, and connections in your map will be referenced, not copied, to the project package." 

However, even unchecked, creating a project template yields a folder size of 25GB.  In fact, checking or unchecking seems to make no difference.  Either way it still re-copies over my locally stored and linked basemap data into my templates folder...Why?


So, asking the question again to ESRI staff that might be reading this. How do we create a project template that does not package the entire basemap/layers in the project, but simply links them to the local data? I would like to know exactly, in clear terms how to do this or if it not possible.

In ArcMap, all I had to do was setup an MXD (with the basemap already added and linked locally and layout-legend, data frame-already created), save it on our network for other users to pull down and use as their map template.  Is this not possible in Pro?  Is that not the purpose of a Project Template?  Why does it need to copy all of the data to a separate folder instead of linking it, and why cant we control whether a package copies these data or not?  Is this a bug?


I have attached screenshots of my settings.  Obviously, as you can see by the 4GB folder size, its still packaging my basemap... Again, my project contains a Map, a Basemap, and a Layout, with the 2016 Business Analyst Basemap data all linked from my local C: drive.

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10 Replies
MVP Emeritus

not staff... but in your link Project package—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS for Desktop any local data as in your basemap, will be consolidated since no one is going to be able to access it.  Check the table in your link for more details as to what gets included in the package and what gets referenced.  Is there a chance that your basemap is available elsewhere?

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Occasional Contributor II

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your reply.  That is unfortunate that it consolidates all local data.  With ArcMap we could just save a map as our template (with an included local basemap that was linked locally) and easily use that.  

We have 2 users in our office (me being 1 of them) and we both have the BA data saved/installed locally on our machines.

A workaround was to just remove the basemap data from the basemap 'tab'  and then create the Project Template.  Once the template is opened, we will add it manually to the "Basemap" tab.

I still think there should be a way to control whether data is packaged, or remains linked - even if its local.  Just look at how easy things were in ArcMap, and how easy it is to create a template mxd for multiple users.  Forced packaging local data isnt really useful or desirable in this case.  Hopefully this is added to Pro as it continues to evolve.

Thanks again


MVP Emeritus

Tyler,  You might want to check if this is a bug, or by design, or whether this exists as an idea on

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Occasional Contributor

We are in the same situation. We are a small organization running data from a shared drive. Trying to make templates but do not want ANY data copied. I truly cannot understand the thinking behind copying data like this. NOT copying data should ALWAYS be the default.

New Contributor III

Bumping Dillion's thread.  Need a way to create project template with links, not copying data.

Esteemed Contributor


Have you gotten into contact with ESRI tech support about this issue?

At my org we are starting to test project template creation and it is also not going very well as it runs for hours and we eventually kill the process.  One item I have noticed is the raster data that should just be referenced from a network share location is being copied into the project template package which is definitely not want we want to occur.

Have you been able to make any progress in having the project templates just reference the data instead of copy the data (extreme data redundancy)?

Occasional Contributor

Have not contacted tech support as I dont believe this is a bug/issue, but rather poor design. There are too many things like this that just dont work (well enough) in "Pro" so I have given up on it. Will try it again in a years time and see if they have resolved these issues.

Occasional Contributor II

@DanPatterson Do you have a more recent link to the idea ( the link doesn't seem to work.

 I just want to create a simple template with links to the Basemap and some toolboxes.

Analyse works fine but when creating the package it just errors trying to reference some old project I haven't looked at in months:
2021-02-05 12:58:32 Status: Failed StatusMessage: ERROR 001707: Data cannot be opened: File Geodatabase(C:\Data\7A_MAPPINGDEV\MappingProject.gdb) SPATIALDATA


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New Contributor II

It's been a while since @TylerSchwartz2 's post, but the problem still exists. I have now run through several scenarios and tried to create templates with data from different sources and with different settings.

With a lot of help from @TillAders, this resulted in a documentation with an exact description of the problem and suggested solutions, which we submitted as a SupportCase. A bug report has now been opened based on this.

For the moment, we can only hope that the problem will be solved in a future version. I'll let you know here if I get any updates on the status of the bug report.

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