By Maria Lomoro, Esri Product Marketing
With the ArcGIS 9.3.1 release, ArcGIS Online now includes a Web application that serves as a central repository for users to easily share and find GIS data, maps, layers, services, and tools. ArcGIS software users can now easily upload and share their geographic information and find content published by Esri and other users.
ArcGIS users can join the ArcGIS Online community simply by using their existing Esri Global Account login or creating a new Global Account. ArcGIS Online membership is free and allows users to control access to items they want to share. They also have the ability to create groups and grant access to others who want to join their group. ArcGIS users can also access ArcGIS Online anonymously without creating an account, although registering with an account gives users access to more functionality such as creating and joining groups and uploading items. Groups are a great way to collaborate with other ArcGIS users who share a common interest in a particular topic, such as sustainable development or wildfire mitigation, or who are working on a project in a particular geographic area. Users can find and join groups they are interested in by entering keywords in the search dialog box. Once the group owner accepts the request to join, members can easily view and access content published by other group members and share their content with the group.
Content that can be uploaded and shared in ArcGIS Online includes maps created with ArcGIS Desktop, for instance, ArcMap documents and ArcGlobe documents; layer files and ArcGIS Server map, globe, and image services; and tools such as ArcGIS Server geoprocessing and location services. Uploaded content can be tagged with keywords so that it can be easily found by other ArcGIS Online members.
To simplify layer sharing, Esri has introduced layer packages with the ArcGIS 9.3.1 release. ArcGIS Desktop users can automatically create layer packages, which are ZIP files that contain intrinsic properties such as item type, thumbnail, extent, and spatial reference. After saving a layer package locally, users can then upload the layer package to ArcGIS Online and share it with others. Once the layer package is uploaded, users can add more information, such as tags, which make the layer package easier to find. Layer packages can also be shared via e-mail or as a file over the network.
Not only can users share data, maps, and services in ArcGIS Online, but they can also share Web maps created with the ArcGIS Online map viewer application. Users can combine their shared GIS services with GIS services shared by others to create a Web map that includes multiple map services mashed up with any of the basemaps published by Esri, choosing from imagery, streets, topography, or shaded relief. All this can be accomplished with no programming.