ArcGIS Online is a place to web-enable your maps and related geographic information and to share them with your users. It is a content management system for geographic information enabling you to share your content and to power many types of GIS-based applications and end-user websites. Your users connect to these maps and apps to use your shared content that you manage in the ArcGIS Online cloud as well as in your own on-premises systems.
Part of the ArcGIS system
ArcGIS Online is used by GIS professionals to publish their information and bring it to life through the power of intelligent, online maps that encapsulate key sets of geographic information, beautiful cartography, advanced analytics, and workflows. ArcGIS Online is used by GIS professionals to manage and share their maps and geographic information. Anyone with http access can use this shared content.
End-user applications and websites powered by ArcGIS Online
Information products in ArcGIS Online can be used to power many kinds of apps—web apps, mobile apps, windows apps, and so on. ArcGIS Online also enables people who are not GIS experts to create their own maps and geodata products by mashing up existing layers, adding new layers from spreadsheets, or literally drawing and sketching on the map itself.
Who uses ArcGIS Online?
Once you join, you can log in and add maps and geographic data to the system. Then, you can access and use that information anywhere with web access and from virtually any type of device (for example, desktop apps, web browsers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as embedded and runtime clients).
ArcGIS Online can also enable your
geographic information to be used by everyone—for
nonspecialist users via a self-service mapping
By web creators
who combine geographic content and tools to build web pages and apps
with the data
without GIS software or training
information specialists for sharing detailed data, analysis models,
and tradecraft / workflows with one another, as well as with the
By system architects and developers
who need to integrate mapping and geographic functionality in their
There are three access levels for using ArcGIS Online: Anonymous access, a private account, and an organizational subscription (for example, for a department or an enterprise).
Anonymous access—Anyone can connect to ArcGIS.com to
find, view, and interact with intelligent, interactive web maps
that are published and shared by other users. However, to create
and share maps, you need an ArcGIS Online account (that is, move to
the next level).
ArcGIS Online account—By signing up for an ArcGIS Online account, you can
begin to upload your own data, create and share your own web maps
and mashups, participate in user groups and communities, and begin
to embed and use existing geographic information services shared by
Your account provides a workspace for
storing your maps and related information that you share. Anyone
can get a private account by signing up. For advanced use and
storage and for organizational use, your organization can subscribe
to the next level.
ArcGIS Online for Organizations—When you acquire an organizational
subscription, ArcGIS Online will provide a hosted account for your
organization to exploit the power of your GIS content to share your
work throughout your organization. This involves:
and managing your organization's content galleries online, along
with the ability to determine access levels for each information
product and to maintain and control your identity as the
hosting, and scaling of your maps and geographic data services in
the ArcGIS Online cloud. In turn, these
are used to power a wide range of applications and websites for end-user access.
organization does not have to install and manage your own ArcGIS
Server. You can use ArcGIS Online to host your information and
services. You can also reference
your local ArcGIS Server content in the ArcGIS Online
administrator, publisher, and user roles for organizational
accounts. This enables your organization to control and manage user accounts and roles, how your
content is organized and shared, and who has access. Designated
ArcGIS Online administrators for your organization invite other users to
join and set their roles as publishers or
information users. You establish a list of
publishers to manage and administer information in your ArcGIS Online
account and they grant access to other users to apply this
manage your content in groups and galleries.
tools and roles enable your organization to manage and share your online GIS resources.
Enabling ArcGIS for organizations is the primary purpose of
ArcGIS Online. Watch a
video of ArcGIS Online for Organizations to see it in
Portal for ArcGIS—An on-premises version of ArcGIS Online
For those organizations that would
like to use ArcGIS Online behind the firewall or in their own
private network, there is a version called Portal for ArcGIS that
you can install and use on your own computer networks. Portal is used in concert with ArcGIS for Server within an enterprise. This implementation pattern provides
for maximum security and customization but takes more time to
implement and is not as flexible or elastic.
Click here for more information on Portal for ArcGIS.
How does ArcGIS Online help GIS Professionals?
As GIS professionals, you can deploy and exploit your online
maps and geographic information. ArcGIS Online enables the
You can publish
maps and related information into the ArcGIS Online system, just as
you would your on-premises system using ArcGIS Server.
integrate external tabular data and files into your maps and apps
by uploading and styling your datasets in ArcGIS Online.
You can create
and share web maps and apps as well as mobile apps.
You can choose
how and with whom you will share each information product—publicly
or privately, item by item. Also, you can reference any web or
mobile app via a website, e-mail, blog, and so on.
Your users can access ready-to-use
maps, apps, and tools.
Using ArcGIS Online to leverage content shared by others
You can use ArcGIS Online to find relevant and
useful maps and apps that have been shared by other users. You can leverage their shared content and embed it into your own maps and
apps. This content is published and shared by all kinds of GIS
organizations, for example:
- Esri, USGS, EPA, US Census, UN, local and state
governments, and equivalent organizations worldwide on every
- You can find and configure apps and templates
that are created and shared by Esri and the ArcGIS user
- You can find tools and functions to add to your
maps (for example, address locators, geoprocessing models, custom
add-ins, and so on).
- You can work with Developer APIs for Runtime,
web, and mobile devices.
What types of geographic information can you upload, share, and use?
maps that integrate
(cartographic and imagery)
layers, such as features, thematic overlays, and analysis
Other data and
graphics that online users add to their maps (for example, CSV
files, Excel spreadsheets, KML, Shapefiles, and so on)
and tools that are captured as part of the map
that apply cartographic styling and manage tile caches
services that style and manage collections of geographic objects
with attribute properties
services (such as maps, layers, imagery, geoprocessing models,
locators, and so on)
Standard web-mapping services (for example, REST, Open GIS Consortium (OGC) WMS,
data that can be mapped or managed as information in the system
(CSV, KML, SHP, GPX, PDF, ZIP, and so on)
web apps (with or without attached source code)
and network analysis
Information management and access
All information is managed in a data
repository (geographic content management system) which is part of
your ArcGIS Online capabilities. This enables you to organize and
manage your maps and data and to whom you provide access. Some of
the repository capabilities include support for:
documentation and formal metadata documentation
The use of
groups and communities for organizing, sharing, and
at the individual dataset level
Using ArcGIS Online, you manage and share your
maps and data through a series of apps that are powered by your
information. You share your maps and geographic information
Embed them in your own
Publish hosted web
apps and information
Shared securely in
selected groups or with everyone
Or, integrate your maps
and geographic information within other applications or
ArcGIS Online is open
Using ArcGIS Online enables you to
share your geographic information through the use of supporting GIS
data and services, thereby creating a kind of information surface
that other web developers and GIS analysts can access and
ArcGIS Online operates on
the open web.
ArcGIS Online is an open
data-sharing platform for your geographic information through
standard web services and protocols (HTTP, REST, J-SON, HTML,
and so on). It allows your strategic geographic data to be delivered as
simple, useful maps and information feeds. The information that you
load into ArcGIS Online is accessible wherever you have web access using
HTTP. This includes access from web browsers, smartphones, tablets,
custom devices, PC desktops, and on your enterprise service bus.
You can work with and integrate information from other
organizations as well.
ArcGIS Online supports a number of data formats
You can add your data to ArcGIS Online in any number of common formats. For example, in addition to all of the various ArcGIS services and data sources, you can add, work with, and share data files such as CSV, XLS, KML, WMS, Shapefiles, and many more.
To begin using ArcGIS Online now, visit
the Tutorials page.