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Publishing image services

What can be published as an image service?

You can publish the following as an image service:

  • Raster dataset
  • Raster layer
  • Mosaic dataset
  • Mosaic layer

Options for publishing depending on your setup

You have the following options for publishing image services depending on your software:

  • I have ArcGIS GIS Server only.

    You can only publish raster datasets and layer files that reference raster datasets. You can use ArcCatalog or the Catalog window in ArcMap to publish the service.

  • I have ArcGIS GIS Server and ArcGIS Image Server.

    You can publish raster datasets, mosaic datasets, or layer files that reference raster datasets or mosaic datasets. You can use ArcCatalog or the Catalog window in ArcMap to publish the service.


    ArcGIS Image Server is also required when publishing a map document containing a mosaic dataset or raster layer using the Mosaic function in its function chain. Without ArcGIS Image Server, the services created from these documents will not contain the mosaic dataset or layer.

Publishing choices

When choosing to share your raster data as an image service, you have the following options:

  • Publish a service—If you're ready to publish, you can go through the entire process of connecting to ArcGIS Server and publishing an image service.

  • Save a service definition file—If you want to set up all the properties of an image service, and transfer it to a separate machine for publishing, you can create and save a service definition file. This is occasionally necessary in cloud environments, secure environments, or when the server is not immediately available.

    Learn about service definitions

  • Overwrite an existing service—If you want to overwrite an existing service, select this option.

    Learn about editing services

Publish an image service

Follow this workflow to publish an image service to ArcGIS Server.

Connect to the server


If you've just installed ArcGIS Server, you need to complete some preparatory steps before you can connect to ArcGIS Server in ArcMap and publish services. Configure a one-machine deployment.


When you publish an image service, the service definition and all the data will be moved onto the server. This can be time-consuming since most raster data and mosaic datasets can be very large. Unless you are publishing a small amount of data, it is recommended that you do one of the following:

  • Ensure that the data is on a shared drive registered with the server. For example, if you will be publishing a mosaic dataset, create it in this shared location with data from the shared location.
  • Ensure that the data is duplicated (replicated) on the server. For example, the data you use in the mosaic dataset exists in the same folder structure location in a registered location on the server, just as it does on your local machine.
  1. If you have not already connected to the server, in the Catalog window, expand GIS Servers and click Add ArcGIS Server.
    1. Click Publish GIS services and click Next.
    2. For Server URL, type the ArcGIS Server administrator URL, for example,
    3. From the Server Type drop-down list, choose ArcGIS Server.
    4. If your server administrator has enabled security for ArcGIS Server, enter your User Name and Password.
    5. For the remaining options, accept the defaults and click Finish.
  2. Register your data locations (either shared or duplicated).
    1. Right-click the connection to the server and click Server Properties.
    2. To register the folder location where the raster data is stored, click the Add Registered Folder button Add and enter the required information.

      To register an enterprise geodatabase, see Registering your data with ArcGIS Server.

  3. Click OK to close the dialog boxes.

Publish the image service

  1. Start ArcMap.
  2. In the Catalog window, right-click the dataset or layer and click Share As Image Service.
  3. Choose Publish as service and click Next.
  4. Click the Choose a connection drop-down list and select the server.
  5. Optionally, enter a new name for the service.

    The name cannot be more than 120 characters and can contain only alphanumeric characters and underscores.

  6. Click Next.
  7. By default, services are published to the root directory [root] of ArcGIS Server. Alternatively, services can be organized in folders within the root directory. Choose the folder where you want to publish the service, or create a folder to contain the service.
  8. Click Continue.

    The Service Editor displays. You'll use the Service Editor to choose what users can do with your image service and take fine-grained control of how the server will expose your image service.

    For information on specific parameters and capabilities, see Image services and their capabilities.

  9. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Capabilities.

    By default, Imaging is enabled.

  10. In the left pane, under Capabilities, click Imaging and review the information.

    URL—These are the URLs clients use to access the image service. The SOAP URL will be formatted as follows: The REST URL will be formatted as follows:

    Operations allowed—There are several options available when using the image service. Each of these options can limit what clients can do with your service. For more information, see Image services and their capabilities.

  11. In the left pane of the Service Editor, click Item Description and type a summary, tags, and description for your image service.
  12. In the Service Editor, click Analyze Analyze.

    This examines your dataset to see if it can be published to the server. Results are displayed in the Prepare window. You must fix the errors using the Errors button Error before you can publish the image service. For more information about resolving these issues, see Analyzing your GIS resource.


    To give yourself more viewing area, click the Collapse button Collapse at the top of the Service Editor.

  13. Optionally, in the Service Editor, click Preview Preview.

    This can give you an idea of how your data will look when viewed on the web. See Previewing your map for more information.

  14. Once you've fixed any errors, click Publish Publish.