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I'm trying to understand if a Layer generate from the web in ArcGIS is a static snapshot, a proxy for the underlying API or maybe polls.

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From here I can add from a WFS API or a CSV file. I could probably do either, but I do need the ArgGIS layer to stay in sync with changes I make to the underlying data.

Is this how it works, and if not, is it possible to proxy from something other than another Esri source?

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I'm not sure this is 100% right, but I'll leave this here and if anyone comes with a more definitive answer, I'll remove it.

It looks like for most Web Layers you can Refresh the layer every 'x' minutes, see http://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/create-maps/set-refresh-interval.htm

You can't do this for a WFS end-point. I tried and the option did not appear, and nor is it in the list of formats listed in the docs. So, it would appear that either you get a single snapshot, or the data is proxied via ArcGIS. I don't own the WFS end-point I was using, so I can't test it - but I'd bet it's proxied. (Warning: guesswork!)

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