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Geoprocessing services

Geoprocessing is a fundamental part of GIS operations. Geoprocessing provides GIS users with data analysis, data management, and data conversion tools. A geoprocessing service is a collection of geoprocessing tools published to a server site to perform tasks necessary for manipulating and analyzing geographic information across a wide range of disciplines.

Geoprocessing services allow you to share custom analysis tools in ArcGIS Server, a component of ArcGIS Enterprise. Data is stored and processing occurs on the server site, rather than on your own machine. This makes it possible for multiple client applications to run analysis using the same geoprocessing service, even concurrently. Though geoprocessing services can be directly accessed on a server site and integrated into web applications, they often run web tools hosted in the ArcGIS Enterprise portal.

A geoprocessing service can contain one or more tools that use input data entered in a client application, process it, and return output in the form of features, maps, reports, or files. These tools are first authored and run in ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Desktop before being shared to a server.

Because a geoprocessing service can reference any geoprocessing tool, it can be used for a myriad of things including the following:

  • Calculate the probable evacuation area for a hazardous chemical spill
  • Calculate the predicted track and strength of a hurricane
  • Generate a report of land cover and soils within a specified watershed
  • Produce a parcel map with historical details of ownership
  • Geocode an address and feed into a permitting application for a home renovation system

If you are connected to the ArcGIS Server, you can access and use the geoprocessing service. You can make a connection to the server site and access and use the service directly.

If you are working with a stand-alone server site (one that is not federated with an ArcGIS Enterprise portal), you can publish geoprocessing services to the server site from either ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Desktop. However, when a server site is federated with an ArcGIS Enterprise portal, you must instead share a web tool from ArcGIS Pro to the portal. This automatically publishes one or more geoprocessing services to the federated server site.

Learn about geoprocessing service compatibility between ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Server

Geoprocessing services and desktop tools

If you have rung and used geoprocessing tools in ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Desktop, the experience is similar for running geoprocessing services. The main difference between geoprocessing services and desktop geoprocessing tools is that you run a geoprocessing service remotely, executing the task on a server computer using the resources of the server computer, as opposed to your desktop computer.

Author and publish geoprocessing services in ArcGIS Pro

When working with a stand-alone ArcGIS Server site, you can transform your geoprocessing tools into geoprocessing services and consume them in ArcGIS Pro. Once a service has successfully published, other ArcGIS Server users can also use it, if you share it with them.

To author a geoprocessing service, you typically create and document a geoprocessing tool using ModelBuilder or Python. You do not need to create your own tool however; you can also use one of the many tools included in ArcGIS.

Learn more about authoring geoprocessing services

Once you've authored a tool, you must first run it in ArcGIS Pro, and the tool must complete successfully. When the tool is finished running, it can be shared; sharing creates the geoprocessing service item in the server connection. You can add multiple tools that you've run to the same geoprocessing service during publishing.

Learn more about publishing geoprocessing services

Author and publish geoprocessing services in ArcGIS Desktop

You can publish geoprocessing services from ArcGIS Desktop to an ArcGIS Server site, regardless of whether the site is federated with an ArcGIS Enterprise portal. If the server site is federated, any service you publish to it is automatically shared to the portal as well.


Though it is possible to publish geoprocessing services from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Server, it is no longer recommended to do so. Publishing services from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Enterprise is deprecated at 10.9. After the 10.9.x release cycle, services published from ArcGIS Desktop won't be supported by ArcGIS Server. It's recommended that you don't publish new geoprocessing services from ArcGIS Desktop and instead begin migrating existing services to ArcGIS Pro runtime.

Learn more about authoring and publishing geoprocessing services in ArcGIS Desktop

Use geoprocessing services

Once a geoprocessing service has been published to ArcGIS Server (including when a web tool is shared to a portal with a federated server site), authorized users can access the service directly on the server site using ArcGIS REST API, work with it in ArcGIS Pro, add it to custom web apps, and more.

Learn more about using geoprocessing services

Review additional general considerations when using geoprocessing services.