Work with catalog layers

A catalog layer is a composite layer in ArcGIS Pro that can draw multiple disparate datasets together in one environment. When the catalog dataset is created, it can be added to a map or scene as a catalog layer. Then you can add items to the dataset as references to other data from a local or shared workspace.

Because a catalog dataset is essentially a collection of data references, it requires some management and arbitration over its contents. The catalog layer's visualization and performance are dependent on its properties, the availability of data, and its visibility settings.

Catalog layer contents

If the active view is a map or scene, the empty catalog layer is added to the Contents pane when it is created. The catalog layer draws with two primary sublayers: the Footprints feature layer and the Layers in View composite layer. These sublayers are organized under the composite catalog layer, which controls many of the sublayer's properties. All catalog dataset items are read-only references to the underlying datasets.

Unique to catalog layers, the layers on the map or scene update dynamically when you pan or zoom. If you are working in a 2D environment, scene layers and other 3D-only content are automatically filtered out from view.

If the catalog layer is selected in the Contents pane, the Catalog Layer tab and Data tab appear on the ribbon. These tabs provide controls for changing the properties and structure of the catalog layer. For example, you can open the catalog layer's attribute table to add new fields and update values in the dataset. To view the attribute table, click the name of the catalog layer in the Contents pane, and on the Data tab, in the Table group, click the Open Table button Open Table.

Explore the Footprints layer

The Footprints feature layer is symbolized to show the boundary or extent of each item participating in the catalog dataset. This layer has the same properties as a polygon feature layer, with some exceptions. You can turn its visibility on and off, and select, label, symbolize, edit, and extrude the layer. In the Contents pane, right-click the Footprints layer to access these settings.

You cannot remove the Footprints layer from the catalog layer structure. To extract the Footprints layer from the catalog layer, in the Contents pane, click the catalog layer, and on the Data tab, in the Export group, click Export Features Export Features.

You cannot query the Footprints layer or examine its data structure. The layer cannot be rebuilt, and its extents cannot be recalculated.

Explore the Layers In View composite layer

The Layers In View composite layer dynamically updates to display dataset items in the current view. By default, Layers In View draws up to 10 layers at a time. This default setting can be changed by adjusting the layer limit. Additionally, the layer can be filtered to show dataset items in a defined scale range, time, range, or other property. Because the layer is dynamic, its list of catalog dataset items in the Contents pane changes as you pan, zoom, or change the view's extent. A layer limit prevents the catalog layer from displaying all items in the dataset. This is useful for filtering out items that may consume additional resources.

Uncheck the Layers In View check box to change the visibility of all items, or check and uncheck individual dataset item check boxes. Right-click individual layers and choose Properties Properties to view additional information about each dataset item.

The Layers In View composite layer and its dataset items are read-only and not editable. All dataset items draw with their default symbology. If the catalog dataset references a layer file, the symbology stored with the file is displayed in the catalog layer by default. To edit, change, or save a dataset item, you must copy it from the catalog dataset and build it as a separate layer.

To extract and build a catalog dataset item from the catalog layer, follow these steps:

  1. In the Contents pane, expand the Layers In View sublayer list.
  2. Right-click a dataset item, and select Make Layer from Catalog Dataset Item Make Layer from Catalog Dataset Item.

    This makes a copy of the dataset item and adds it to the active view as a fully functional layer.

View catalog layer attributes

The catalog layer's attribute table can be opened to view all catalog dataset items included in the layer. Each item is a record in the attribute table. To add new items to the catalog dataset, run the Add Items To Catalog Dataset tool.


To add items to a catalog dataset created in ArcGIS Pro 3.1, the dataset must be upgraded with the Upgrade Dataset tool.

To remove items from a catalog dataset, open the layer’s Attribute Table window, select the layers to delete, and click Delete Selection Delete Selection.


You cannot manually add new items to the catalog dataset attribute table. The Shape field cannot be manually populated, and records with null geometry are not valid.

A catalog layer’s attribute table typically includes the following fields:

  • Item Name—The name of the catalog dataset item.
  • Item Source—The dataset item's original source path (local or web).
  • Item Type—The definition of the dataset item’s type, such as Feature Class or Raster Dataset.
  • Shape—The geometry of the encompassing polygon for all sublayer contents.
  • Minimum Scale—The minimum map scale factor at which the dataset item can be displayed.
  • Maximum Scale—The maximum map scale factor up to which the dataset item can be displayed.
  • Draw Order Weight—The assigned value controls the item's drawing order against all other items in the dataset and is used as the default feature drawing order field. Items with the highest values draw first (on the bottom), and the lowest values draw last (on top).
  • Footprint Height—The height of each footprint. A value exists if the dataset item contains 3D content with a bounding box.

The catalog layer may include other fields for length and area, querying, filtering, or pop-up settings. The Shape, Item Name, and ObjectID fields are required.

Interact with the catalog layer

After adding the catalog layer to a map or scene, you can refine how its layers are displayed. A catalog layer draws its items according to the Draw Order Weight values in its attribute table, so you can edit these values to change the drawing order of the Footprints layer. You can limit the number of layers that draw by applying a layer limit, or build a definition query to filter dataset items. You can also set a visibility range or apply visual effects, which are then applied to all dataset items.


Enabling archiving on catalog datasets is not supported.

Apply a layer limit

Use the Layer Limit drop-down list to define a limit for the number of catalog dataset items that can draw in the catalog layer's active view. You can choose an available option, manually define a custom limit, or remove the limit.

To change and apply a new layer limit, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the catalog layer in the Contents pane.
  2. On the Catalog Layer tab, in the Configuration group, click the Layer Limit drop-down menu.
  3. Choose a value from the menu, or specify a custom value by typing it in the text box. Choose No Limit to turn off the limit.

View the footprint pop-up for a catalog dataset item

If you use the Explore tool Explore Tool to click a catalog dataset item in the map or scene, its pop-up displays the identified layer's features and their attributes. However, the Footprints layer includes its own pop-ups that provide information related to the catalog layer's attributes, such as the item's source, draw order weight, and footprint height.

To view the catalog dataset item's pop-up, follow these steps:

  1. In the Contents pane, right-click the Footprints layer and ensure that pop-ups are enabled.
  2. Under Layers In View, right-click a dataset item, and choose Show Related Footprint Pop-up Show Related Footprint Pop-up.
  3. Interact with the pop-up.

You can also use the Explore tool Explore Tool to click a footprint feature and open the footprint's pop-up.

Set a definition query

You can filter which dataset items are retrieved from the catalog layer by building definition queries.

  1. In the Contents pane, click the catalog layer name.
  2. On the Data tab, in the Definition Query group, click the Build Definition Query launcher Build Definition Query to create a query.

    For example, you can use any of the fields in the catalog dataset (such as Item Type) to only draw dataset items of a specific type.

Share a catalog layer

You can share a catalog layer under the following circumstances:

  • You share a web feature layer that copies all data to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 or later.
  • You share a map image layer and web feature layer to ArcGIS Enterprise 11.2 or later.

Because a catalog dataset contains references to other data, those references may need to be published as items. Other capabilities may not be supported. For more information, see 00397: Catalog dataset references unsupported items for <value>.

You can also share a catalog layer in a map or layer package. When packaging the catalog layer, its data references must be accessible to other users who open the package in their application.

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