Terminology for working with projects

You'll encounter these terms when working with projects in ArcGIS Pro.


A dataset is any project item or portal item that can be added to a map. Examples of datasets include feature classes, tables, services that provide access to data, layer packages, and imagery layers. Datasets may be stored online or on the file system.

Data source

A data source is the dataset to which a map layer is connected.

Default geodatabase

Every project has a default geodatabase. By default, when you create a project, a file geodatabase is created as the default geodatabase. However, you can designate another geodatabase to be the default geodatabase.

The geoprocessing environment uses the project's default geodatabase as the default workspace where output items created by geoprocessing operations are stored. If you create map layers from a layer template, the source datasets for the layers are also created in the default geodatabase.

Supported formats for default geodatabases are file geodatabase (.gdb), mobile geodatabase (.geodatabase) and enterprise geodatabase (.sde).

Default toolbox

Every project has a default toolbox. By default, when you create a project, a toolbox is created as the default toolbox. However, you can designate another toolbox to be the default toolbox. Models that are created in your project are stored in the default toolbox.

Supported formats for default toolboxes are toolbox (.atbx), legacy toolbox (.tbx), and Python toolbox (.pyt).

Home folder

Every project has a home folder. By default, this is the folder in which the project file (.aprx) is stored, and in which the project's default geodatabase and toolbox are created. The home folder is also the default storage location for many items that you create in an ArcGIS Pro session, such as database and server connection files, some analysis results, map and layer files, and other exported files.

Layer template

A layer template is a schema-only layer package that is provided in a specific location where ArcGIS Pro looks for layer templates.


Information that describes items in ArcGIS is called metadata. Metadata allows you to find items with a search and evaluate which of the items in your search results is the correct one to use. Organizations typically have a standard that determines what level of content must be provided in an item's metadata to document it. ArcGIS Pro supports several formal standards, or metadata styles. At a minimum, good metadata consists of an item description that includes a title, tags, thumbnail, summary, description, credits, use limitations, and an appropriate extent and scale range for working with the data.

Portal item

A portal item is any item that is accessible from the active portal and is available in the Catalog pane, a catalog view, or a browse dialog box. From the Portal tab in the Catalog pane, web maps and web scenes can be added to the project, and feature, tile, and imagery layers can be added to maps in the project.


ArcGIS Pro projects help you manage a collection of GIS resources, including the maps, layers, tools, and datasets required to complete your work. Projects can reference content in your organization's portal and on the file system; some project items are saved directly within the project file. By default, projects are stored in the Documents\ArcGIS\Projects folder in your user profile.

Project favorites

Project favorites are items such as folders, databases, or server connections that you designate to be readily available to add to projects or to add automatically to new projects. Project favorites are available from anywhere on your local network if your network supports roaming user profiles. Project favorites are managed in the Catalog pane or catalog views and are also available in browse dialog boxes.

Project item

A project item is an item stored in the project file (.aprx) or an item added to a project as an item connection. Project items include the following:

  • Maps, layouts, reports, and other items stored in the project file.
  • Folders, databases, toolboxes, GIS servers, styles, and other items to which you make a connection in the Catalog pane or a catalog view.

The contents of a project item are not considered project items. For example, files or subfolders in a folder connection, feature classes in a database connection, and symbols in a style are not project items.

Project package

Project packages allow you to share and archive projects. They can be shared across an organization through its portal to support communication and collaboration. Users can view project items and the data they reference. Team members can use the same project package to update the data referenced by its maps and scenes and print documents for delivery.

Project packages can reference enterprise datasets or consolidate all content into a single package. A consolidated project package can be delivered to users who can't access enterprise resources or can be stored independently to archive completed work. A project package may contain the following:

  • Maps, scenes, and layouts
  • Embedded datasets or connections to enterprise dataset locations
  • Tasks for key workflows
  • Tools
  • Documentation such as data dictionaries or specifications

Project templates

A project template specifies the contents of a new project. ArcGIS Pro provides a number of default templates. You can also create a custom project template (.aptx) that may include maps and layouts; connections to folders, databases, toolboxes, and servers; and datasets or schema-only data definitions. Templates can provide standard layouts and styles throughout your organization. A project template is a special type of project package. By default, project templates are stored in the Documents\ArcGIS\ProjectTemplates folder in your user profile.

Related topics