ArcGIS Online

Answering Your Questions on Collaborating in ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online is the largest community of geospatial data and professionals. It is a collaborative cloud-based mapping solution that allows you to not only build maps and apps, but also share them securely. This powerful capability empowers users to seamlessly collaborate and share data with colleagues in other organizations and perform workflows that were not possible before. For example, it is now possible for two separate ArcGIS Online organizations to work together in creating an authoritative dataset while collecting data across county lines.

This blog will answer some of the frequently asked questions about collaborating in ArcGIS Online.


Collaborating Between Two or More ArcGIS Online Organizations

The April 2021 update introduced partnered collaboration to allow two or more ArcGIS Online organizations that are motivated by common goals, initiatives, and trust, to work more closely with each other. A partnered collaboration establishes a formal partnership between two or more organizations so they can collaboratively build, edit, or view content like web maps and web apps. Members with the “Administrator” role can create a partnered collaboration and send an invitation to the collaborating organization.

Once the invitation has been accepted, a collaboration coordinator can be identified. The collaboration coordinator serves as liaison between the partnering organization for specific collaboration. Collaboration coordinators have additional privileges within collaborations that allow them to be easily discovered. They can also manage memberships of groups participating in partnered collaborations. Collaboration coordinators help navigate the collaboration process, ensuring that the right members get access to the right information.

To learn more about the basics of partnered collaboration, read this blog.



Collaborating Between ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online

Enterprise 10.5.x delivered distributed collaboration, a capability that allows users to extend the reach of their GIS content by facilitating sharing of maps, apps, layers, and other items between ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online. We recommend using the most recent version of ArcGIS Enterprise to get access to the latest functionalities.


Questions and Answers on Partnered Collaboration


Who can participate in a partnered collaboration?

A partnered collaboration occurs between two or more ArcGIS Online organizations.


What is the difference between partnered collaboration and group sharing?

Partnered collaboration and group sharing both allow users to collaborate and share content with users from other ArcGIS Online organizations. However, with partnered collaboration, the group owner does not need to invite a user from another organization and have them accept the invitation. They only need to add a collaboration coordinator as a group manager from the other organization to the group participating in the partnered collaboration. The collaboration coordinator will then be able to add relevant users to the partnered collaboration group directly — no invitation is needed. Once the collaboration coordinator adds them to the partnered collaboration group, they automatically have access to the shared content within that group.


Is there a limit on the number of partnered collaborations that an ArcGIS Online organization can participate in?

Right now, there is a limit of 20. With partnered collaboration, most content is private, so ensuring the performance and scalability of the data is critical. If you have a use case for participating or hosting more than 20 partnered collaborations, you can share this with Support or reach out to ArcGIS Online Product Manager, Scott Ball at


Is there a limit on the number of partnered collaborations that an ArcGIS Online organization can host?

See the answer to the previous question.


Is there a limit on the group size?

There is no limit on how many members a partnered collaboration group can have. Users are limited from being members (including ownership) of more than 512 groups.


Can you configure the parameters on what your partner organization can do in a partnered collaboration?

There are a few ways to control what participating members can do with your content that is shared with a partnered collaboration group:

  1. To ensure members in a partnered collaboration can update data in a feature layer, modify the editing capabilities on the layer or view to ensure the correct access is configured.
  2. Organizations that have a partnered collaboration established can belong to a group with shared update capabilities. This gives additional capabilities for members in the group to update items, such as web maps and applications.
  3. When establishing a partnered collaboration, the administrator can specify whether the other organization can search their members or just the collaboration coordinators.
  4. If the content is shared with the group that participates in a partnered collaboration, participating members cannot reshare the data they don’t own with the public, other groups, or the entire organization.


If the partner organization is using a different authentication system, does this affect the collaboration?

No. With partnered collaboration, the ArcGIS Online sharing model controls access to content regardless of using built-in authentication or SAML logins.


Can a developer account participate in a partnered collaboration with an organization subscription?

No. You need an ArcGIS Online organizational account to use partnered collaboration.


When you suspend the partnered collaboration, how do you prevent cross-pollination of the content?

The content stays with the owner. If the owner gets removed from a partnered collaboration, it also removes the content they own.


Are you able to transfer content ownership in a partnered collaboration?

No. You will have to download the content and re-publish it in your organization to gain ownership.


Which organization pays for the storage of the maps and apps that are being shared in a partnered collaboration?

In an ArcGIS Online partnered collaboration, the organization that owns the content or shares it with the group pays for the storage. Since nothing changes in the ownership of the item, nothing changes in terms of who gets charged credits.


Can content within a partnered collaboration be shared with a group outside the partnered collaboration?

It depends on the highest share level. If the content is shared publicly and with a group that participates in the partnered collaboration, then the content can be shared with other groups. If the content is shared with just a group, a participating member cannot share the content to other groups or the public.


Can a partnered collaboration group also be used for group sharing?

Yes. Besides configuring it as a partnered collaboration group, it is otherwise a regular group.


Do both organizations have a remnant group once the partnered collaboration has ended?

Once a partnered collaboration has ended, all the members from the partner organization will be removed from the group along with their content. The group will exist in the group owner’s organization unless it is deleted, but the group is not replicated in the participating organization.


In a partnered collaboration, can Partner A make a web app for Partner B’s ArcGIS Online website?

Yes. With partnered collaboration, data is shared with the partnered collaboration group and is often private. If Partner A wants to make a web app for the public, they need to configure the sharing of the web map and layers to be visible to everyone and also share it with the partnered collaboration group.


Do shared update groups support editor tracking?

Yes, editor tracking is supported for hosted feature layers in partnered collaboration.


If a feature service is published in a server and shared in ArcGIS Online, can the partnered group edit the feature layer?

It depends on the editing capabilities configured on the feature layer. If the feature layer is editable and accessible to the members of the group the layer can be edited. If the feature layer isn’t editable or isn’t accessible by ArcGIS Online members, then it cannot be edited.


What are the best practices for sharing using a URL to ensure the partner group can access the item?

Use the share button and share the generic URL. It is also recommended that users in a partnered collaboration log in to their account first before opening a shared URL.


Will there be support enabled to create collaboration coordinators using custom roles instead of just default roles?

This is not possible today, but we will be evaluating this functionality in the future.


What are the considerations on setting up a partnered group with a Hub Community Group?

Groups (called “teams” in ArcGIS Hub) can include community members and members of partnered collaborations. If your ArcGIS Online organization has at least one partnered collaboration set up with another ArcGIS Online organization, you can add partners to a core team or supporting team.

When adding a partner to a team, ensure they have the privilege to join external groups. Consider using the Partnered Data Editor or Partnered Viewer templates to assign this privilege to user roles lower than a Publisher. For more information, see Partnered organization members.

If, as a manager, you do not see the option to add community members or partnered collaboration members to a team, check the Membership Access settings under Edit Team Profile. If the setting cannot be modified, the account administrator can enable the additional privilege to do so.

Note that Hub Community organizations are automatically partnered with the main ArcGIS Online organization, so they do not need to be manually partnered.


What kind of scenario would you use both Partnered and Distributed collaboration?

A good use case is when you have authoritative data stored in ArcGIS Enterprise but you want that layer to be shared with multiple groups or multiple organizations in ArcGIS Online. First, you will set up a Distributed Collaboration between your ArcGIS Enterprise and your ArcGIS Online organization so it can copy the data to ArcGIS Online. The next step would be to set up a partnered collaboration with your ArcGIS Online organization and other ArcGIS Online organizations so you can connect with other users outside of your organization.


Questions and Answers on Distributed Collaboration


For a referenced feature service in Enterprise where the source data is a registered enterprise geodatabase, what happens in distributed collaboration? Does data feed into the other server?

If you’ve set up a distributed collaboration with a referenced feature service from an enterprise geodatabase, the collaboration is most commonly set up to send content as copies. When this happens, the feature layer is copied from sending organization to the receiving organization as a hosted feature layer.


What version of Enterprise do you need to perform distributed collaboration?

Distributed collaboration was introduced in ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5. Any supported version of Enterprise can participate in distributed collaboration with ArcGIS Online. However, using the latest version will ensure that you have access to the latest functionalities.


Can I set up collaborations between ArcGIS Hub Premium and ArcGIS Enterprise?

A distributed collaboration can be established between ArcGIS Enterprise and an ArcGIS Online organization that has ArcGIS Hub Premium enabled. Data can then be shared between the main ArcGIS Online organization and the ArcGIS Hub Community organization.


How does data transfer work using distributed collaboration?

Distributed collaboration between ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise is most often configured to send content as copies.  When configuring the collaboration, it is determined which organization is going to send the content, receive the content, or if the content will be both sent and received with two-way sync (introduced in Enterprise 10.9). The host can configure the access privileges of the recipient ArcGIS Online organization (view, edits, etc.). The changes in the data can be synced immediately or on a schedule set by an organization administrator.

About the authors

Princess was a senior product marketing manager for ArcGIS Online, Esri's flagship mapping and analysis software-as-a-solution tool. She is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and the University of Southern California. Aside from her experience in marketing groundbreaking technology products, she is passionate about sustainability and social equality.


Kelly was a product manager on the ArcGIS Online team. She enjoys blogging, web mapping, and outdoor adventures.


Scott is a product manager working to make the power of geography accessible to everyone. He spends his time listening to user feedback and working to make ArcGIS Online the best darn SaaS out there.

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