About tile packages

A tile package allows you to create a set of tiles (images) from a map, then use the set of tiles as a basemap in ArcGIS applications.

The tiles are wrapped into a single file, a .tpk file, so you can share the file as you would any file. You can email it, copy it to a network locale, upload it to ArcGIS Online, and so on.

You can also use the file to provision devices and applications that run offline (applications that can run disconnected from ArcGIS Server or ArcGIS Online), such as applications built with ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Java, iOS, Windows Mobile, and WPF.

The set of tiles is known as a tile cache. Basemaps made of pre-made tiles this way typically display more quickly than other basemaps. Although it will take you time to create the tile package, the cost is a one-time cost. Users of the resulting basemap will not have to wait for the images to be created. The more users you have, the higher the benefit of that one-time cost.

However, if the data you need to show on your basemap must be live, with no time delay acceptable, then tile packaging is not appropriate. Because a tile package represents a snapshot of your map at one point in time, the package works best with maps that do not change frequently, such as street maps, imagery, and terrain maps.

If some delay between tile package updates is acceptable, to determine whether tile packages will suit your needs, consider the size of the tile package and how widespread the changes for each update would be. A large tile package takes more time to create. It may be practical to update your large tile package only if you can isolate the changed areas and update those areas only. If the tile package is small, you may be able to quickly rebuild the entire package each update. If the update cannot keep up with the changes in an acceptable amount of time, the map is not appropriate for tile packaging.

For additional advantages of using tile packages, see Why should I create tile packages?

Before you create a tile package, consider the following:

Tile package options

Upload package to my ArcGIS Online account —Use this option to share a package with a wide audience by sharing to your ArcGIS Online account. Once you have uploaded the package to your online account, you can share it within your private groups or with everyone.

Save package to file—Packages can be shared locally by writing a package file to disk. Like any other file format, a package can be shared through email or by copying and pasting to other locations on your internal network.

The following image illustrates saving a tile package to a local directory. Tile Packaging dialog

Tiling scheme

The tiling scheme includes the scale levels, tile dimensions, and tile origin for the cache. These properties define where tile boundaries will exist and are important to match when overlaying caches in some clients. Other properties such as image format are also written into the tiling scheme but do not affect whether the client application can successfully overlay the tiles.

There are several options you can choose for the tiling scheme:


ArcGIS Online previously used a tiling scheme based on the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate system that used 512 x 512 pixel tiles. If you have services running that need to use this tiling scheme, you must load it from an existing service or a tiling scheme file.

Tile format

This setting determines what output image format the map service will use when it creates the tiles. Your choice of image format is important, because it determines the size on disk of the tiles, the image quality, and the ability to make the tile background transparent.

The default image format is PNG 8, but you may often need to change this based on the type of map you are creating. Below is a summary of the available image formats and their appropriate uses.

Before committing to an image format for a large package, build a small package of a representative area of your map and examine the tile quality and performance in a test application. If you'll be working with multiple packages, build a small test package for each and add them to a test application to make sure they overlay as expected. This will allow you to make adjustments before you create the entire package.

Levels of detail

Select the highest level of detail that you wish to generate your tiles to. The display will indicate the scale of data that you should expect to see at the selected level of detail. Each increase in the level of detail increases the time to create the tile package and the size of the tile package.

Entering information about the package

The Item Description allows you to provide details about the package to users. The Item Description dialog box provides the following fields where you can enter information describing the package. This includes


Any changes you make to item descriptions pre-populated from the Map Document Properties..., will not be reflected in the map document properties. The changes you make will only be for the package itself.


Before packaging a map, be sure to enter descriptive information about it in the Map Document Properties dialog box. This information is built into the package and is accessible to others when you upload your map package into ArcGIS Online. You can access this dialog box by clicking File > Map Document Properties on the main menu.

For more information on setting Map Document Properties to pre-populate the Item Description seeSetting_map_document_properties

Below is an example of the Item Description dialog.Tile Package Item Description


Tile packages are supported from ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop onwards. Tile package will fail to open with older ArcGIS for Desktop versions (10 or older).