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Can you access feature layers without a map? If not, can you delete a map from a project or create a temporary map?

Question asked by ufshall on Aug 2, 2019
Latest reply on Aug 6, 2019 by RRuh-esristaff

I need to access the attributes from various feature classes and, to the best of my knowledge, you can only do this through a feature layer loaded into a map. I am currently trying to create a map object, run the needed processes, then delete that map object. Is there a way to do this "behind the scenes" or without having an active map? I cannot find anything on being able to delete that map object.