Subtype group layers and tables

Subtype group layers are composite feature layers that contain multiple sublayers called subtype layers. Subtype group tables contain multiple subtables called subtype tables. Each subtype layer or table corresponds to one subtype in the source dataset or service. This way, each of them can be modified independently.

Subtype group layers

If you add a feature class with subtypes to a map or scene, a feature layer is created and symbolized with unique values symbology in which each subtype is assigned a unique symbol class. Alternatively, you can add the feature class to the map or scene as a preset subtype group layer.

Subtype group layers draw more efficiently than an equivalent set of individual layers because a single call is made to the source data for the entire subtype group layer when panning, zooming, or otherwise redrawing. You set the layer properties, including symbology, scale ranges, and label settings, for each subtype layer in the composite subtype group layer individually.

Subtype group layers and their sublayers can be used as input to geoprocessing tools. When a subtype group layer is used as a geoprocessing input, all features from the source are considered (unless there is a definition query set on the subtype group layer).

You can also share a subtype group layer as a web feature layer or as part of a web map.

Subtype group tables

When a subtype group table is added to a map or scene, it appears as a composite table. Each of its subtables have the same capabilities as a stand-alone table. Because no geometry is involved, you cannot access elevation, selection, cache, or floor property settings.

Subtype group tables and their subtables can be used as input to some geoprocessing tools. However, you cannot join a subtype group table to another dataset, and only its subtables can be added to a relate.

Subtype group tables can be shared as map services or feature services. There are some software limitations, which are described below.


If you drag a subtype group table into a map or scene from the catalog pane, it appears in standard table format. You must add the table with the Subtype Group Layer Subtype Group Layer tool. Follow the steps in the workflow below.

Add a subtype group layer or table to a map or scene

To add a subtype group layer or subtype group table to a map or scene, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Map tab, in the Layer group, click the Add Data drop-down menu Add Data, and click Subtype Group Layer Subtype Group Layer.
  2. On the Choose one or more items with subtypes dialog box, browse to and select the dataset.

    Optionally, use the data type filter to browse feature classes, tables, or both (default).

  3. Click OK to add it to the map or scene.

You can further manage subtypes from the layer or table properties window. On the Subtype tab, you can add subtypes to include them in the subtype group layer or table, or remove them from inclusion. Subtypes that are removed remain available to be added later.


There are a few limitations to subtype group layers and tables. While you can create a relationship between one of the sublayers or subtables and another layer or table using the Add Relate tool, the parent subtype group layer or table cannot be joined to another layer or table. Relationship classes that are defined in the geodatabase are exempt from this limitation.

Similarly, you cannot open the attribute table of a subtype group layer or subtype group table. You can only open the attribute tables for the subtype layers within it.

Subtype layers or tables cannot be dragged from their parent layer. While you can set most properties independently, there are some that are inherited from the parent layer or table and cannot be changed. The following properties cannot be set or specified from the subtype layer or subtype table (when applicable):

When shared as a service, the structure of the subtype group table appears differently in ArcGIS Enterprise than in ArcGIS Pro. Feature services portray the subtype group table as a table. Map services only show the subtype tables.