What are GIS services?

GIS services are automated geographic information services that are published and accessed over the Web using standard technologies and protocols. The knowledge elements that you create in ArcGIS—geodatabase, map documents, geoprocessing models and scripts, address and place name locators, imagery, globe documents, and so on—can be published and served openly using ArcGIS Server.

A key mechanism for sharing GIS services is by creating ArcGIS Web Maps.

Your web maps can reference your geographic information elements that are published as GIS web services. You can share your web maps, which can be used in ArcGIS Desktop, mobile applications, web browsers, and in many other computing contexts that support web services.

Combining multiple GIS services in a GIS web application
An example web map application that combines a number of GIS services

This earthquake web map combines a number of GIS services:

GIS services can be used to add content to ArcMap from ArcGIS Server. The topics in the Using Web maps and GIS services book introduce the most common GIS services that you can create and use in ArcGIS.

One of the key ways to use GIS services is to reference them in GIS web maps that can be shared via email or the web. For example, www.ArcGIS.com has a gallery of web maps and apps that utilize ArcGIS web maps.

ArcGIS map services (Web Maps)

Perhaps the most common type of GIS services is a map service. Map services are created by publishing an ArcMap document as a map service using ArcGIS Server. Once published, these map services can be discovered and used on the web to create web map mashups (to combine a set of map services in a common web map).

See What are web maps? for more information.

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