This is the first in a series of ‘tips and tricks’ blog posts for GIS professionals. Topics to be covered include ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcMap, as well as static maps.

ArcGIS Online is a software that you access through an internet browser (also referred to as a browser-based software, or software as a service). As a result, you can use ArcGIS Online and access maps and content anywhere that you have an internet connection. This aspect of ArcGIS Online is helpful for the successful collaboration of data and projects among teams, departments, and organizations.

Another benefit of ArcGIS Online is that brand new users are able to assemble simple maps and web apps, as well as easily manage the data that powers those maps and apps. The map can be quickly created and then shared to specific people only, an entire organization, or publicly through a web app or URL.

Securing an ArcGIS Online Account

If you want to use ArcGIS Online, you will need an account. Your school or employer may already have an ArcGIS Online organization account that you can join. If not, free public accounts are available here. Esri provides an ArcGIS Trial of 21 days with 200 credits to use ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro desktop software. After the trial has ended, you can contact Esri to purchase the full ArcGIS Online subscription.

Any K-12 school in the United States is able to request free ArcGIS Online subscriptions for their students. Free instructional materials and the request form for the free account are available here.

If you are a student or university employee, your university may be able to grant you an organizational account. Towson University students and employees can email to request an account.

If you are a State of Maryland employee, you can request an account here.

ArcGIS Online Tips and Tricks

Esri provides extensive documentation for getting started in ArcGIS Online here. Below are a few tips I put together to create maps and apps using ArcGIS Online.

  • If at all possible, avoid using Internet Explorer. We experience best results with Google Chrome.
  • Do not use the browser’s back button. To move between maps and the Content page, use ArcGIS Online’s buttons and menus. Note that you are able to have multiple maps open in multiple browser tabs.
  • If you are experiencing strange issues, or if the page is not updating or responding, save your map and reload the page. Use the browser’s reload button, or use Ctrl+F5 for a hard refresh.
  • Adding content in ArcGIS Online:
    • Spreadsheets, tables, or Excel files must be saved in CSV format (.csv).
    • Shapefiles must be zipped.
  • All items and maps created in or uploaded to ArcGIS Online will reside in your cloud-hosted My Content page (Home > Content > My Content).
  • Adding content through the My Content page gives more options and allows for larger files to be uploaded.
  • When using the analysis tools:
    • Use the Show credits link at the bottom of the tool menu to estimate the amount of credits running the tool will cost.
    • Check/uncheck the Use current map extent box and zoom in/out to reduce or expand the area undergoing analysis.