ArcGIS Online

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ArcGIS Online
Esri-10GlobeLogo sRGB .png
Developer(s) Esri
Type GIS
License Free, Subscription
Website ArcGIS Online product page

ArcGIS Online is a key component and an integral part of Esri’s ArcGIS system. It is a content management system comprised of applications and templates for creating interactive maps. ArcGIS Online users can share maps within an organization or the world through ready-to-use tools that are available for the web, smartphones and tablets. Data, delivered as maps and information feeds, are accessible by other web developers and GIS analysts who can share its contents through the same system. ArcGIS Online is mainly used by GIS professionals to publish information online – including geographic information, cartography, analytics and workflows [1].

Users can use ArcGIS Online to extend the capabilities of ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS applications, and ArcGIS APIs and Runtime SDKs [2]. Users can also add many types of maps, layers, applications, tools and files to ArcGIS Online. To learn more about these items, read What can you add to ArcGIS Online?.


ArcGIS Online allows users to create, store and manage maps, applications and data. Esri and the GIS community can share maps, applications and data so that everyone has access to the information. For further details on other features of ArcGIS Online, visit ArcGIS Online Features.

Mapping Tools

ArcGIS Online provides various tools to analyze geographic information and convert data into information that are available with minor installation and setup. Users can control the
Different types of maps
published maps and applications through different channels: blogs, web pages and web applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and email. There are also ready-to-use analysis operations that work alongside with maps and applications to explore and measure geographic relationships such as creating buffers, driving times and dissolve boundaries.


ArcGIS Online comes with installed basemaps, demographic maps, imagery and map layers that become good foundations for users when working on maps. ArcGIS Online also includes a collection of maps on topics related to people, earth and life. The GIS user community from around the world contributes maps that other users can enrich with geographic information by adding layers to basemaps. Some of these maps are free while others require an ArcGIS Online paid or trial subscription.

Ready-to-Use Applications

Applications for iPhone and Android smartphones

There are a few applications which are available for download to all ArcGIS Online users. Collector for ArcGIS (iPhone and Android smartphones) is used to collect and improve data, attach photos and videos and also search for locations. Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS helps to monitor, track and report events. Users can make dynamic maps from Excel data and share through PowerPoint presentations using Esri Maps for Office. There is also Esri Maps for SharePoint, which allows users to view an organization’s data in a geospatial view through the SharePoint site. Users can access GIS data for maps’ collection and editing by using ArcGIS for Smartphones and Tablets.

Data Protection

ArcGIS Online secures all access to published information. User identity is established through a login process and when the users share maps online, the information is protected by multiple layers of security. The hosted web layers are secured based on the ArcGIS Online sharing model. By default, a hosted web layer is private when it is first published and is only accessible to the publisher [3]. Only when the user shares the information with a group of people using the standard sharing dialog boxes, the hosted web layer is accessible by the group. This is to control access towards data and maps which are constantly monitored and improved.


A workspace is available to team up with other users within the organization or the public. Users can create groups and invite others to share information. This workspace helps users to collaborate closely together by exchanging thoughts, design documentation, code, presentations, and other files in a secure and dedicated workspace [4].

ArcGIS Online Access

Everyone can become a member of ArcGIS Online [5] :

  • Non-specialist users via a self-service mapping experience
  • Web creators who combine geographic content and tools to build pages and applications with the data
  • People without GIS software or training
  • Geographic information specialists for sharing detailed data, analysis model and tradecraft/workflows with one another, as well as with the broader community
  • System architects and developers who need to integrate mapping and geographic functionality as part of a solution

Access levels

There are three access levels for using ArcGIS Online that are catered towards different categories of users.

  • Anonymous access allows everyone to find, view, and interact with published web maps, but will not be able to create and share maps.
  • A Personal/Individual ArcGIS Online account is for users who sign up for an ArcGIS Online account to upload data, share web maps and participate in user groups and communities. It also provides a workspace for map storing and information sharing.
  • ArcGIS Online for Organizations allows an organization to hold a hosted account to share its work throughout the network.

Subscription Plan

To access the ArcGIS Online capabilities, users need to purchase an annual subscription. However, there is a free 30-day trial available. The subscriptions have flexible plans whereby each plan comes with a number of named users and service credits. Named users can be added to the subscription at any time and are available in packs of five. Service credits are the currency for ArcGIS Online. Users use service credits in exchange for any of the hosted services an ArcGIS Online subscriber uses [6].

Supported Browsers

Below are the recommended browsers for using ArcGIS Online: [7]


Use the latest version of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer while working with ArcGIS Online. However, Internet Explorer 7 and 8 have some performance limitations so it is advisable to install the Google Chrome Frame when using Internet Explorer 7 or 8 for an improved experience.


  1. "Part of a complete ArcGIS System" ArcGIS Help 10.1 Resource Center. Esri. Accessed 19 November 2013.
  2. "What is ArcGIS Online?" ArcGIS Online Help Resource Center. Esri. Accessed 19 November 2013.
  3. "Hosted web layer security" ArcGIS Online Help. Esri. Accessed 12 December 2013.
  4. "Esri Presents ArcGIS Workspaces!" Support Services Blog. Esri. Accessed 13 November 2013.
  5. "Who uses ArcGIS Online?" Introducing ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Help 10.1 Resource Center. Accessed 20 November 2013.
  6. "Plans" Products. Esri. Accessed 20 November 2013.
  7. "Part of a complete ArcGIS system" Introducing ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Help 10.1 Resource Center.Accessed 19 November 2013.

See also