ArcGIS REST Servers

Manifold's ArcGIS REST Server dataport connects to web servers using REST (representational state transfer) architecture that provide raster or vector data via ESRI ArcGIS protocols.  ESRI refers to ArcGIS REST servers that provide vector data as feature servers, with those ArcGIS REST servers that provide images as map servers or image servers.    Depending on the URL the ArcGIS REST server requires, the Manifold dataport will automatically adapt to fetching raster image layers (more common) or vector drawing layers.   Some ArcGIS REST map servers will provide both vector and raster layers.  


Manifold's ArcGIS Rest Server dataport does not support all possible types of ArcGIS REST servers, but it does support those types that are used most often: FeatureServer, ImageServer, and MapServer.


We can bring data from ArcGIS REST servers into Manifold using two, related techniques:




See the Example: Vector Layers from an ArcGIS REST Feature Server topic for an example of connecting to an ArcGIS REST server providing vector data.


For an example showing a connection to an ArcGIS REST server for raster data, see the Example: Raster Layers from an ArcGIS REST Image Server topic.


Connecting to a ArcGIS REST server:


  1. Choose File - Create - New Data Source in the main menu, or right-click in the Project pane and choose New Data Source.

  2. In the context menu choose More... to launch the New Data Source dialog.

  3. Choose Web Server: arcgisrest in the Type box.

  4. Enter the URL for the ArcGIS REST data in the Source box.  

  5. Default settings for other options will usually work for most ArcGIS REST data.   Press Create Data Source.

  6. A new data source appears in the project.  Open it to see the drawing (or image) and table that is linked in from the ArcGIS REST server.


Drawings or Images and tables that are linked from ArcGIS REST servers are neither selectable nor editable.


Creating a local copy of the ArcGIS REST drawing and table:


  1. Ctrl-click on the drawing and on the table linked in from the ArcGIS REST to highlight them.

  2. Press Ctrl-C or click the Copy button in the Project pane toolbar.

  3. Click anywhere in the main, Manifold .map part of the project outside of the new data source's hierarchy.

  4. Press Ctrl-V or click the Paste button in the Project pane toolbar.



A local table and drawing that have been copied and pasted from a linked ArcGIS REST table are fully capable, native Manifold components.   We can easily add a key field and index to the table to enable editing and selection in both the table and the table's drawing, using the procedure given in the Add an Index to a Table topic.


Adding an index to a table:


  1. Double-click on the table to open it.

  2. Choose Edit - Schema.

  3. In the Schema dialog click the Add Identity button.

  4. Press the Save Changes button.


New Data Source Dialog and Controls

In the main menu, choose File - Create - New Data Source.   The context menu provides a list of favorites to choose from as well as a More... option.  



Choose More... to launch the New Data Source dialog.   Choose Web Server: arcgisrest in the Type box.




Name for the new data source, "Data Source" by default.  Specify a more memorable name as desired.  If we forget the origin of a data source we can hover the mouse over the data source name in the Project pane and a tool tip will provide connection information.


Choose Web Server: arcgisrest in the Type box to connect to a ArcGIS REST server over the web. The same dataport is used to connect to both raster and vector data served by ArcGIS REST servers.


A connection string to the web server ArcGIS REST data. This may be a simple URL, or a very lengthy, complex  URL/connection string that embeds parameters such as keys that grant access or other parameters.  The connection string can also be entered using the Web Login dialog launched by the [...] browse button.

 Browse button

Click to launch the Web Login dialog, to allow use of a login and password plus use of a proxy server if desired.   The Web Login dialog is also handy for providing a Test button that can be used to test the connection.

Open as read-only

Open the data source read-only.  Has no effect with ArcGIS REST servers since they are read-only in any event.

Cache data

Cache data downloaded from the server while the project is open.  Provides better interactive performance and greater flexibility with read-only data sources.

Save cached data between sessions

Save the cached data for the next time this project is opened, within the .map project itself in a Cache sub-folder in the System Data hierarchy.   Caution: checking this box can result in very large .map files when the results of browsing very large data from web servers are all saved.  However, having such data cached in the .map is handy for offline browsing of the project.

Create Data Source

Create the new data source in the project pane and close the dialog.

Edit Query

Launch the Command Window loaded with a query that creates the data source using the given settings.  A great way to learn how to use SQL to create data sources.


 Exit the dialog without doing anything.



 Pressing the browse button next to the Source box launches the Web Login dialog, to specify a server and connection characteristics.




The connection string for the server.  This may be a simple URL, or a very lengthy, complex  URL/connection string that specifies a connection to a specific layer within the ArcGIS REST server, for example, in the form http://... /FeatureServer/0

Use login and password

Check this box for servers that require logging in with a login name and a password, providing the required name and password in the Login and Password boxes.

Use proxy server

Check this box when connecting through a proxy server.   The Proxy, Login, and Password boxes allow specifying the connection string to the proxy server as well as the login name and password required to use the proxy server.

User agent

Identifies what application (Manifold) is asking for a connection.  Some web servers want to know what client software is connecting, for compatibility or for business reasons.  The default string optimizes compatibility (Mozilla is very generic) while also identifying Manifold Release 9 as the client.  Users can adjust the string as necessary to comply with any special server requirements.

API key

Provide a key that authorizes use of an API when connecting to a proprietary data source that requires such a key.  This option is disabled for ArcGIS REST servers.  Future builds are expected to support long-lived security tokens and will enable this option.

Application key

A secondary application key or authentication code for those servers, such as (also known as that may require it.  Disabled for ArcGIS REST servers, which do not use it.


Specify a time in milliseconds to wait for connecting to the specified server.  Use 0 for the default timeout, or specify whatever is the desired time to wait before giving up on the server.


Press the Test button to try the connection using the specified parameters.   If successful, a Connection established information dialog will pop open.


See the Example: Vector Layers from an ArcGIS REST Feature Server topic for an example of connecting to an ArcGIS REST server providing vector data.

ArcGIS Security

Manifold's ArcGIS REST dataport supports authentication via a user name and password.  ArcGIS authentication is based on temporary security tokens. The dataport first checks if the ArcGIS REST server uses security tokens.  If it does, the dataport uses the specified user name and password to generate required security tokens, refreshing them as needed.


Federated ArcGIS REST servers that generate security tokens based on authentication data from SAML or OpenID services are not supported.   Specifying a long-lived security token, that is, an  API key, is not currently supported, but is expected to be added in future builds.


Download manager - This dataport is accelerated using Manifold's internal, parallel, download manager, to fetch data from the server using multiple threads.  Note that ArcGIS REST servers can be configured to serve some images as screens rather than tiles. Such servers and images will work, but without the benefits of parallel downloads and reliable cancels provided by the download manager.


Problems connecting - Check the Log Window to see what is going on behind the scenes if an attempted connection does not work.     The problem is usually a wrong connection string or URL, failure to provide required credentials such as an key string that authorizes access, wrong choice of protocol (the server uses WMS and the user picks something else), the server is not a FeatureServer or ImageServer or Mapserver, an incredibly slow server, a server that is offline or a server that is wrongly configured and which is not correctly using the protocol it claims to use.  


Visit the Manifold community forum and talk out difficulties with other users.  Make sure to post full information on what you are doing, the connection URL you used, all details of how you tried to connect (including all settings in the data source dialog), what happened, and what the Log Window reported.    If other users cannot help you, spending a tech support incident will produce an authoritative analysis of the issue.


Try the URL in a browser - Checking the URL by launching it in a browser can reveal many problems with the URL or with the web server.  If a URL does not work in a Manifold web server dataport, try exactly the same URL in a browser.  If a browser cannot connect to the URL, the Manifold web server dataport will not be able to connect to it either.  If a browser cannot connect to that URL, that indicates the problem is the URL or the web server.   For example, the web server might be offline.  Or, for example, If the browser connects to a page other than the actual web service endpoint, such as, to a web page that lists various options for web servers, that shows the URL is not a URL for a web server but a URL to some other sort of web page.   


Connection problems are often caused by incorrect URLs.  There might be a typographical error in the URL or the URL might not be an endpoint to a functioning server but instead a URL to some other web page.  The server responding to the URL may have geographic restrictions (surprisingly common) that does not respond to connections from IP addresses that are thought to be in a canceled country.  Trying the URL in a browser will fail in such cases.  Web servers may also have other restrictions, such as only allowing connections from white listed IP addresses, from paying clients, or from those clients that use a special security scheme.  


URLs change frequently - Web server sites often change URLs.  If a URL no longer exists for a data set of interest, use a search engine like Google with terms like the subject of the server, "ArcGIS REST" and so on to see if a newer URL is now available.


Use a correct URL - It is important to use a URL that does, indeed, connect to a functioning ArcGIS REST Server.   For example, consider the ArcGIS REST server at the following URL:


If we try to use that URL directly, the Test button will respond with ArcGIS REST server not supported.  If we open that URL in an browser, we will see why:  there are no services for that specific URL.  There are, however, folders listed in the web page launched by that URL.

Suppose we follow the link on that page to the first folder, with a URL of:


If we try that URL with the Test button, the system will again respond with test that, the system will still respond with ArcGIS REST server not supported.    However, the list of services in that first folder link is not empty.   The page has been organized with the expectation that we will specify the specific service to which we want to connect.


Suppose we pick the first available service, with a URL of:


If we try that URL with the Test button we get a Connection established response.   If we create a data source using that URL we will get a live ArcGIS REST server data source with various components in it available for use.


Web servers are often slow or mis-configured -   Some web servers to which we might connect using ArcGIS REST, WMS, WMTS, WFS or other connection standards can be incredibly unresponsive or, despite allowing a connection, will not allow data to be fetched.   If pressing the Test button results in a successful connection, or if layers available are displayed when we expand the data source, but then when we try to display an advertised layer nothing happens, we can open the Log Window to see what is going on.


Here are a few lines of log window information for a happy session, connecting to a WMS server in New Zealand run by the ever-efficient LINZ organization:


Web request: (root)::[Data Source] (GetCapabilities) (0.578 sec, 13.0 KB)

Web request: (root)::[Data Source]::[layer-767] (GetMap) (1.255 sec, 47.9 KB)

Render: [Data Source]::[layer-767 Image] (1.561 sec @1.0)


In contrast, a few lines of log window information for an unhappy session, attempting to connect to the WMTS server run by the French cartographic service IGN but getting no image for a cadastral parcels layer:


Web request: (root)::[IGN]::[CADASTRALPARCELS.PARCELS_bdparcellaire_b] (GetTile) (0.070 sec, 0 B)

*** (root)::[IGN]::[CADASTRALPARCELS.PARCELS_bdparcellaire_b] (GetTile) The remote server returned an error: (403) Forbidden.

Render: [IGN]::[CADASTRALPARCELS.PARCELS_bdparcellaire_b Image] (0.315 sec @1.0)


From the above we see an empty cadastral parcels image was rendered because the remote server refused to provide tiles in response to the GetTile request, returning a 403 error Forbidden.    Finding out why a web server refuses service can involve some detective work.  


The server might require a special key for access, a key we are trying to use may be out of date, a login and password may be required for some resources, the connection string may have been copied and pasted inaccurately or, of course, in the case of IGN, the server may be refusing to work to show solidarity with striking railroad workers or air traffic controllers.


Some webmasters may insist their web servers are correctly configured even when explicit errors are pointed out.   That can happen even in the case of  national cartographic services as reported, for example, as discussed in various threads in the georeference forum.  


User-unfriendly server configurations - Correctly configured web servers may sometimes make user unfriendly configuration choices, for example, only starting to show data when the view is zoomed in to some specific area. That is a perfectly legal configuration, but it may catch users by surprise if they open a web served layer and it is blank, because they have not yet zoomed sufficiently far into a particular region.  If a web server layer is blank, add it to a map with a "known good" background layer, such as Bing Streets, and then zoom into the area of interest that is likely to be covered.  The Geosciences Australia web server, for example, often serves blank layers until one zooms into Australia, and at times far into Australia.


Must Have Internet - It seems obvious that to connect to a web server we must have a live, functioning Internet connection.  What might not be obvious is that sometimes we may have only a partial Internet connection, without realizing we do not have a full Internet connection.  A classic example is using a browser, such as Opera, which may ignore failed IPv6 DNS resolution but work OK using IPv4 DNS resolution.  Without IPv6 DNS resolution we can browse Internet using Opera but we might not be able to connect to Microsoft, Google, or some other web servers.   


Manifold's web server connections, just like the latest Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers, require full IPv6 DNS resolution.   That normally happens automatically using whatever IPv6 DNS servers are assigned by our Internet service provider, but at times IPv4 DNS continues to work OK while the IPv6 DNS servers assigned by our ISP do not work.  If we are using Opera, and not Edge or some other browser that uses IPv6 DNS resolution, we might not notice that our ISP-provided IPv6 DNS resolution is not functioning.    We might only notice the problem when trying to use an image server or other web server within Manifold and it does not work.


If we cannot get a display from a web server, we can check the Manifold Log Window. If the log reports that a connection cannot be made, in Windows network dialogs for our Internet connection  we can try setting the IPv6 DNS servers to some "known good" DNS servers.   A good choice is using Google's public DNS service, using the following addresses for primary and backup DNS server addresses:




Collections of Web Servers - Check the Product Downloads page for pre-packaged project files in Release 9 / Viewer .map format that Manifold publishes which contain collections of dozens of popular web servers data sources.


See Also

Project Pane


Web Servers


File - Create - New Data Source


CSV Servers


Custom Servers


GeoJSON Servers


Image Servers


JSON Servers


OSM Servers


TMS Servers


WFS Servers


WMS Servers


WMTS Servers


Example: Spectacular Images and Data from Web Servers - A must see topic providing a gallery of views illustrating how Manifold can use web servers such as image servers and other free resources to provide a seemingly endless selection of spectacular background maps, satellite images and GIS data with nearly zero effort.


Example: Vector Layers from an ArcGIS REST Feature Server - Visit an ESRI web site, copy a URL, and then use that URL to connect to an ArcGIS REST web server that shows petroleum fields in Kansas, getting the data as a vector drawing layer. Style the layer as if it were local.  ESRI refers to ArcGIS REST servers that provide vector data as feature servers.  


Example: Connect to a WFS Server for State Government Data - Gathering our courage, we connect to a WFS server that provides 1200 vector layers, run by the state of Massachusetts.   We open a layer showing airports and then scrape the vector data into our own local storage.  


Example: Connect to a WMS Server for National Map Layers - Visit the National Map services web page, copy a URL for a shaded relief layer from USGS, and then use Style to enhance that shaded relief data for combination with other layers and really spectacular effects.


Example: Connect to a Custom Server for Cadastral Data - We connect to a custom image server that provides cadastral information originally from the French national cartographic agency, IGN.  We create a map and use the Style pane to re-style the web served image on the fly into a more usable form.


Example: Connect to a Custom OpenRailwayMap Server - We connect to a custom server that provides an OpenRailwayMap view of railroads worldwide, showing railway, tram, and subway infrastructure based on OpenStreetMap data.  Our first try at creating a data source does not work.  After consulting the Log Window we try again with a slight adjustment and our second try works.


Example: Connect to an OSM Vector Server - We connect to an OSM Server that provides a vector layer containing points and lines in the OpenStreetMap database.  We then show how to scrape (copy) data from the OpenStreetMap server into local storage.  We extract building footprints from the local copy.


Example: Raster Layers from an ArcGIS REST Image Server - Visit an ESRI web site, copy a URL, and then use that URL to connect to an ArcGIS REST web server that provide a raster layer showing a mosaic of aerial photographs near Portland, Oregon.