Hosted feature services
Publishing hosted services requires an account that is part of an ArcGIS Online organization. See Getting started for more information.
Feature services support vector feature querying, visualization, and editing. Feature services are most appropriate for operational layers that go on top of reference layers such as a basemap. For example, a feature service might contain information about the street signs in your neighborhood. Each feature (street sign) might include the sign name, date installed, and a website URL for reporting problems to your local street department.
In web applications, feature services are drawn by the browser, and you can change the way features look (for example, change the symbols and configure the pop-up windows) and edit the features. If the service contains a large amount of features, the client may take some time to draw the layer, and all features may not be retrievable due to client or server data transfer limits. The solution is to set scale limits on the layer so that it is drawn only when the user is zoomed in.
Feature services are useful when you need to expose vector data for display, query, and editing on the web. Hosting a feature service on ArcGIS Online is an easy way to share data with an Internet audience if your own GIS server cannot be made public. Web maps, applications, and desktop map viewers can access your services from anywhere on the Internet if you choose to allow it.
You can publish feature services from the ArcGIS.com website (if publishing a shapefile or CSV file) or from ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop (if publishing an ArcMap document).