ArcWatch: Your e-Magazine for GIS News, Views, and Insights

June 2010

Online Content, Applications, and Sharing Are a Seamless Part of the User Experience

ArcGIS Is Now Online

By Maria Lomoro, Esri Product Marketing

  example map showing Brooklyn, New York
Users can add their own data on top of detailed, ready-to-use global basemaps.

Using the new Web site is just one of the many new ways Esri software users can obtain quick and easy access to geographic content via the Web.

Having access to maps, apps, and developer tools is critical to any GIS project and can save valuable time and money. The growing number of ArcGIS online capabilities provides a framework for delivering cloud-based GIS, which supports collaboration between groups or communities, regardless of the client application being used.

Access from a Browser

Recently launched, is a central Web gateway into the ArcGIS system and ArcGIS online content. Users can find, share, organize, and use maps, apps, and other resources published by Esri and the user community. Users can also build communities around common interests by creating specific groups and organize and share their content through these groups to better collaborate with each other. Users can also post comments and rate their favorite maps and apps so that others can narrow their search to most-viewed, highest-rated, and favorite content.

In addition, ArcGIS Explorer Online is a new browser-based ArcGIS application that you can use to open and view GIS content. ArcGIS Explorer Online can be accessed through and doesn't require a download. You can access ArcGIS online content directly from within ArcGIS Explorer Online to create maps that can then be shared and consumed by users, including those with the iPhone. Also accessible from is the new Web Mapping application, which provides a quick and easy way to create maps online. It uses Esri's basemaps as a starting point. Users can search ArcGIS online content or other GIS servers and the Web to find additional layers and create mashups. These mashups can also be shared and consumed by others, including users of the ArcGIS for iPhone mapping application.

Access from ArcGIS Desktop

With the release of ArcGIS 10, ArcGIS Desktop is tightly coupled with ArcGIS online content and capabilities. Users can browse, use, and share content directly from the ArcGIS Desktop ArcMap application. This includes content that is publicly available (e.g., basemaps published by Esri) as well as user content that has been published and shared. Once an ArcGIS Desktop user has authored a map that includes ArcGIS online content, the map can be uploaded by creating a layer package. By uploading a layer package, other users can find and consume the authored map.

Access for Mobile Users

Mobile users will also be able to browse and consume ArcGIS online content. They can do this through the ArcGIS for iPhone application, built with the ArcGIS API for iPhone. The application provides instant access to ArcGIS online maps and lets users search for content, select maps, and add them to their favorites. Using native iPhone motions, users can browse ArcGIS online maps; perform queries; and search, identify, and perform GIS analysis based on the information that was authored as part of the map. Field-workers can also use the iPhone application to collect and update features, then post their updates to an on-premises server. An application and API for Android are planned for a later release.

Access for Developers

In addition to the mobile software development kits (SDKs), developers can use ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs for JavaScript, Flex, and Silverlight/WFP with ArcGIS online content to quickly build Web mapping applications.

To share your content and browse and use existing content, visit

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