Sync with Feature Services in ArcPad 10.2

In ArcPad 10.2, direct support for synchronization with feature services was introduced as a replacement for synchronizing with the ArcPad Extension for ArcGIS Server. This new feature is easy to use and especially easy to incorporate into your existing ArcPad projects – so let’s walk through the steps!

Step 1 – Preparing your Field Project

In ArcGIS Desktop: 

  • Organize your background and operational data, configure your geodatabase features such as subtypes, domains and related tables, and set the display scale and symbology for your project. Save your map (MXD) in preparation for Step 2. Read more about Preparing your data for ArcPad.
  • Use the ArcPad Data Manager to Get Data for ArcPad, set up your photo workflows and validate your feature classes. Read more about Get Data for ArcPad. 
Get Data for ArcPad

Get Data for ArcPad using the ArcPad Data Manager


In ArcPad/ArcPad Studio:

Customize Forms in ArcPad Studio

Customize Forms in ArcPad Studio

Step 2. Preparing your Feature Service.

In ArcGIS Desktop:

  1. Connect to ArcGIS Server or ArcGIS Online and share your map (MXD) as a feature service. Read more about Publishing Services with ArcGIS.
  2. Browse to your feature service in Catalog. Right-click and select Create Layer. The feature service layer (LYR) contains the feature service URL.
  3. In the ArcPad Toolbox Tools, use the feature service layer (LYR) and the AXF from your checkout as inputs for the ‘Add Feature Service URL to AXF’ tool.
Preparing your Feature Service for ArcPad 10.2

Preparing your Feature Service for ArcPad 10.2

This AXF now contains the URL of this feature service. This URL means that the AXF (and any copies of the AXF) will be able to sync edits back to the feature service, as well as download any edits from the server. Your project is now ready to be deployed into the field.

Step 3. Collecting Data and Synchronizing Edits.

In ArcPad:

  • Copy your project onto your mobile device, open in ArcPad and begin making edits to your data. Read more about Editing data in ArcPad. 
  • When you have a data connection and are ready to sync your edits, simply select the Synchronize Data with ArcGIS Server Tool.
Synchronize Data with ArcGIS Server

Synchronize Data with ArcGIS Server

  • The ArcPad Synchronizer will report all edits uploaded to and downloaded from the feature service, including a progress bar and any error reporting as necessary.

As always, remember to refer to the online ArcPad Help for the most up to date information, and ask your ArcPad friends for advice on the forum.

The ArcPad Team

This entry was posted in Editing, Mobile, Services and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply


  1. smoussadji says:

    Hi there,

    When I initially read the article, I had assumed in step 3 that I was to open my ArcPad project (.apm) or load my AXF file into ArcPad and make my edits before synchronizing the data with ArcGIS Server (ArcGIS Online in my case, actually); however, I was getting an error and I decided to go to Esri Support for help.

    I was informed that I had misunderstood the article and I was supposed to load my feature service created earlier via the ‘Add Data from Server’ function in ArcPad. I was supposed to be making edits to the feature service and not to my ArcPad project. After making edits to the feature service, I would synchronize.

    Assuming the analyst I spoke to is correct, I think it is important to add to this article that you need to use ‘Add Data from Server’ function and make edits to your feature class (not the AXF file as I initially understood the article to say). From working with other organizations in Canada, I know I am not the only one who has misunderstood this.

    Also, if you are not opening your ArcPad project, what is the purpose of customizing your data entry forms (optional step listed in the article)? I don’t see how you would be able to use the custom forms if you are only going to load in your feature service.

    It would be great to get some feedback from the authors of the article. Thanks in advance!


    • Hannah Ferrier says:

      Hi Sarah,

      You are correct in assuming that once you have ‘sync-enabled’ your AXF (by running the Add Feature Service URL to AXF Tool), you can edit your features in ArcPad as you usually would.

      Although you are able to connect directly to feature services using the ‘Add Data from Server’ Tool – we would only recommend that you use this approach when designing/testing your ArcPad Project.

      The workflow as described in the blog post is the recommended method – this way you can easily incorporate feature service support into your existing ArcPad projects.

      We have been working hard on ArcPad 10.2.1 (due for release later this month) which does include improvements to feature service sync that we hope will fix any errors you are currently experiencing.

      Hannah Ferrier
      ArcPad Team

      • smoussadji says:

        Hey Hannah! I just tested with the distributor release of ArcPad 10.2.1 and now I had no errors following the workflow in this blog. Good job on this release!

  2. mcarey73 says:

    Hi, I had to seek support and I believe the analyst didn’t see a problem with me having opened an .apm file or brought in an axf. Like you said, it doesn’t seem right to directly add in the Feature Service from the server.

    Did you get a similar error to this when synchronization failed? : (I could upload features TO the feature service, but not download them FROM it.)

    ” C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\ArcPad10.2\System\Scripts\Common\sync.js(1550, 3) Microsoft JScript runtime error: 0x800a000d: Type mismatch”

    The outcome of my support was that they referenced a couple of bugs that currently have no workaround:

    NIM094499 The ‘Synchronize Data with ArcGIS Server’ menu item in ArcPad 10.2 must be run separately for each newly added feature in order to synchronize successfully.

    NIM096055 Edits performed in ArcMap are not synchronized or displayed in ArcPad 10.2.

    Have any users successfully worked through the steps above?

    I was hoping to incorporate this procedure into my workflow, it sounds great, but I feel like I’m stuck until these bugs are addressed.

    • Hannah Ferrier says:

      Hello mcarey73,

      We have been working hard on ArcPad 10.2.1 (due for release later this month) which includes improvements for feature service sync. This includes a fix for NIM094499.

      To work around your second issue – make sure that you have included the full extent of your project area as the initial map extent in your feature service. Features that are added outside of this extent are currently unable to be synced or displayed in ArcPad.

      Hannah Ferrier
      ArcPad Team

  3. smoussadji says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Hannah. It is good to know my initial understand of the article is correct and that I can make edits to my AXF file.

    mcarey73 – yes, I am also getting a type mismatch error. Thanks for giving me a head’s up about NIM094499.

    What I have noticed is that even though I get the type mismatch error, when I look at the data in ArcGIS Online, it does actually show the updated records. I’m looking into whether or not I can use ArcGIS Server as a workaround for now.

    I’m looking forward to testing with ArcPad 10.2.1 when it is available.

  4. jatienza08 says:


    Please Include in Arcpad 10.2.1 the ability to include attachments for pictures to be save on a Geodatabase.



  5. marika says:

    To Jonathan
    ArcPad 10.2.1 is complete and attachment support is not included. Although this is a feature that has been on the to-do list for sometime, so are SO many other features. Please contact Esri Technical Support or your Esri Account Manager to discuss your specific workflow using attachments. Frankly, that is the most effective way to move it up the list.
    Regards, Marika

  6. smoussadji says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I’ve been doing some more testing with this functionality and I have a question I’m hoping you can help me out with. Uploading edits or new features I create in ArcPad works great. I’m now trying to get the download portion to work. For example, when I make edits to my feature service in ArcGIS Online, or if I make edits from another mobile device and sync them to the feature service, I want to see those new features downloaded into my ArcPad project.

    I find that even though the ‘Synchronize Data with ArcGIS Server’ function can read edits or new features in the service (the ‘synchronize’ dialog box will say “Download: 1 new, 3 edits”), they are not visible after the synchronization is complete and you click ‘ok’ on the dialog box. If I go to the ‘Debug’ tab, I see a warning message stating “Incremental downloads not available…performing full download instead”

    I have read the help documentation that states that incremental downloads are not supported with feature services hosted in AGOL, but I’m curious what the software is doing when it says “performing full download instead”, since I don’t see any changes after clicking ‘Ok’.

    Please let me know if this is clear and if you can help me out with my question.


    • Hannah Ferrier says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I have 2 answers for your questions:

      1. “Incremental downloads not available…performing full download instead” is the message displayed by ArcPad when it is connected to a feature service that does NOT have Editor Tracking enabled. This means that ArcPad does not know which features have been added since the last sync and will download the entire feature service to pick up any edits. If your feature service does have Editor Tracking then ArcPad can pick up only the latest edits and download them incrementally.

      TIP: If you have a large number of features in your feature service and do not want to download every feature whenever you perform a sync – you can check the box on the ArcPad Options – Server Tab to ‘Suppress Synchronization Downloads’. This will only push your edits to the server without attempting to download any new content.

      2. If you have added new features to your feature service and are not seeing them downloaded in ArcPad after a sync – it may be because the new features are outside of the initial extent of the feature service. When you create your sync-enabled AXF, it is restricted by the initial extent of the feature service. If new features are added outside of this extent, they are not able to be downloaded into your ArcPad project.

      Hannah Ferrier
      ArcPad Team

  7. aj222 says:

    I see that ArcGIS Server 10.2 feature services support Related tables (

    Having been surprised to find that the ArcPad server extension did not support related data for ArcGIS Server synchronisation (only for checking data in and out manually) please could you confirm that with ArcGIS Server 10.2 feature services I could have a parent feature class and related child table so that it would be possible to add, edit and delete records in both the parent and child data ? Also, would it work with a parent feature class and child feature class ?

  8. aj222 says:

    PS Sorry, i should have added “would be possible to add, edit and delete records in both the parent and child data” … using ArcPad 10.2 ?

    • marika says:

      Hi aj222
      The ArcPad server extension DOES support related data for ArcGIS Server synchronization, as does the new feature service support introduced at ArcPad 10.2 (introduced to replace the need for the ArcPad server extension). In both you can add, edit and delete records in the parent feature layer and child table. Note that related table synchronization with feature service can only occur with server 10.1 and above. For a table of synchronization capability refer to
      Regards, Marika

      • aj222 says:

        Hi Marika,
        Thanks for your reply and sorry for my misunderstanding of ArcGIS Server synchronization. I have seen that synchronization of related data is possible using the feature service, however we are currently using server 10 so cannot go down this route at the moment. So I think our only option at present is to use the ArcPad server extension ?

        The scenario we have is a tree feature class (containing spatial data) with a one to many relationship with a tree visit table (no need for spatial data). Having versioned the database, set Global Ids and created a relationship class (linked by a location ID field) class I tried to ‘Author Project for ArcGIS Server’ using the ArcPad Data Manager in ArcMap, I found that ‘Only layers that have the map’s spatial reference can be checked out’, so in my case the tree visit table was not available to be checked out – I think this may be where I am going wrong in my understanding – is it possible to check out a table that contains no spatial coordinates … and hence no spatial reference .. or maybe I am setting the relationship incorrectly ?

        I also thought about adding spatial data to the tree visit table to turn it into a feature class but then read in my ArcPad installation help file that the ArcPad Data Manager does not support feature class to feature class relationships.

        Any advice you could give or tutorials you could point me to regarding synchronization with related data would be much appreciated !

        Regards, AJ

        • aj222 says:

          Hi Marika,
          Update – please forget what I said in my previous post, I’ve tried again and it does work as you say. Although the related table wasn’t available to check out when authoring the data in ArcPad Data Manager, the related table was included in the resulting axf file (as documented) as a result of adding the relationship class.


          • aj222 says:

            However I can only synch succesfully one way (upload to server from ArcPad) – New features added in desktop ArcPad don’t appear in mobile ArcPad and changes on the server aren’t downloaded to ArcPad. ArcPad 10.0.4 and ArcGIS Server 10. Are there any settings I can set or check re the download synchs ?

          • marika says:

            There are a number of reasons why downloads are not occurring, now that your into troubleshooting, you should contact tech support (you do have maintenance with ArcPad) and they can got through all the possibilities with you.

      • tking_gp says:

        Hi all,

        Does ArcPad have the ability to have multiple feature services uploading to ArcGIS Online? I have a data collection feature service and a tracking feature service within the same project, but only one of them seems to be able to communicate with AGO. Thanks, LTK

        • marika says:

          Yes it should, Please contact Esri tech support for more troubleshooting.

          • tking_gp says:

            I upgraded to Desktop 10.4 and ArcPad 10.2.3 and I am getting an error updating. The error says’Fields(…)’ is null or not an object. I will call tech support as well. Thanks,


  9. ibhogle says:

    I have been testing a variety of scenarios, including extremely simple scenarios, with no luck. I always get this error message, or a slight variation of it (such as .js(462.3) rather than 499.3):

    C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\ArcPad 10.2\System\Scripts\Common\axf.js(499.3)
    Microsoft Jscript runtime error: 0x800a138f: ‘Fields(…)’ is null or not an object

    My client is looking to hire someone who can successfully implement ArcPad feature service synchronization ASAP, and any leads to help us resolve the above error or to find someone for hire who can help would be greatly appreciated!

  10. tking_gp says:

    Can you kick out a feature service that has additional data than the one used in ArcPad? I would like to kick out a feature service containing a tracking layer with all of the targets for a project and then just create an axf of the unsurveyed targets. Is that possible?