I'm adding a Dynamic Map Service to an ArcGIS Server JavaScript API map, and I need to get hold of each component layer and its fields, so I can run a query.

See the sample ArcGIS Server services directory at http://sampleserver3.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/HomelandSecurity/operations/MapServer

If you open this URL in a browser you can see the list of available layers (0,1,2) and each layer's fields.

How can I retrieve the list of fields programatically, within a JavaScript function? The code snippet below shows how to retrieve the layer endpoints, but I can't see how to get to the fields.

(One option is to add the layers as Feature Layers, but I'd prefer to avoid this if possible).

var url = "http://sampleserver3.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/HomelandSecurity/operations/MapServer/";
var dynLayer = new esri.layers.ArcGISDynamicMapServiceLayer(url);

dojo.connect(dynLayer, "onLoad", function() {
   var infos = dynLayer.layerInfos;
   for (var i = 0; i <= infos.length - 1; i++) {
       var layerId = infos[i].id;
       var restEndPoint = url + layerId;
       //restEndPoint is the layer's URL - how can I retrieve its fields?

Thanks, Steve (cross-posted to the ArcGIS Server forum)

2 Answers 2


Use esri.request() to hit each layer's REST endpoint to get info about fields. Here's a simple example:

    <script type="text/javascript">var djConfig = {parseOnLoad: true};</script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://serverapi.arcgisonline.com/jsapi/arcgis/?v=2.4"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
      // var service_url = 'http://sampleserver3.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/Hurricanes/NOAA_Tracks_1851_2007/MapServer/layers';
      var service_url = 'http://sampleserver3.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/Fire/Sheep/MapServer/layers';

      function init() {
          url: service_url,
          content: { f: 'json' },
          callbackParamName: 'callback',
          load: processServiceInfo,
          error: errorHandler
      // Runs once
      function processServiceInfo(info) {
        console.log('svc info: ', info);
        dojo.byId('info').innerHTML = '';
        dojo.forEach(info.layers, function(lyr) {

          // Add a new div for each Layer
          var lyr_div = dojo.create('div', { 
            id: 'layer_' + lyr.id,
            innerHTML: '<strong>Layer: ' + lyr.name + '</strong><br />'
          }, dojo.byId('info'));

          dojo.forEach(lyr.fields, function(field) {
            lyr_div.innerHTML += 'Name: ' + field.name + '; Alias: ' + field.alias + '<br />';

      function errorHandler(err) {
        console.log('error: ', err);

    <div id="info">field names and aliases will show up here.</div>

That code uses v2.0 of the API but the same thing will work at 2.3 or 2.4. I originally posted in the Esri JS API forum.

Edit: Updated to handle all layers in a service. The code also now uses version 2.4 of the API.

  • +1 Looks good. Since user has 3 layers though, maybe having init call a FieldsInit function for each layer might be more useful. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 14:20
  • esri.request is the way to go, but instead of querying individual layers, just query them all at once by using http://..../MapServer/layers?f=json as the URL. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 14:54
  • Between you all, I think we have a great answer :) @Derek can you edit the code to handle all layers as per Sasa's suggestion, and I'll mark it as accepted? Thanks everyone Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 21:01
  • There ya go Steve...updated my code sample to provide info for all layers in a map service. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 22:55
  • Thanks. I'm loading the JSON result into a global variable which I can then access at any time, to determine the layers and fields available in the map. Brilliant. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 1:19

I may have the wrong end of the stick here, but don't you just perform a query on the layer in question and get the results back as a resultset? If you ask for it in json, you can parse the results?

So for this:


The return is:

{"displayFieldName":"STATE_NAME","fieldAliases":{"STATE_NAME":"STATE_NAME"},"geometryType":"esriGeometryPolygon","spatialReference":{"wkid":4326},"fields":[{"name":"STATE_NAME","type":"esriFieldTypeString","alias":"STATE_NAME","length":25}],"features":[{"attributes":{"STATE_NAME":"Florida"},"geometry":{"rings":[[[-80.785662408630856,28.785194039580265], ... [-80.5878197219821,24.956376399079556],[-80.249453677873134,25.354937642313288]]]}}]}

(I have removed most of the geometry to make it easier reading)

  • how did you know to query layer 1, and that there was a field called STATE_NAME? That's what I'm trying to work out on-the-fly (ie, I need this to work for ANY rest endpoint at run-time, not one that I know beforehand). Thanks Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:22
  • well the simplest answer would be to count the layers in the map service, and each other map service, and loop through them requesting the data. A query can just be a null one, so you bring everything back. You can then loop through the response listing the data.
    – Hairy
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:41
  • so in my example above, I'd set a QueryTask based on each restEndPoint, and build a query which didn't return geometry - good idea. I'll give it a try - thanks! Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 10:30
  • That's how I'd approach it
    – Hairy
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 10:32
  • Try this: Url to layer URL/YOURLAYERNAME/MapServer/layers?f=json - This should return a json depiction of all your layers and their fields or URL/YOURLAYERNAME/MapServer/1?f=json indicating the layer number you want
    – Hairy
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 10:45

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