GIS enables sharing of maps and geographic information across workgroups, organizations, enterprises, communities, and the public. You can use, create, analyze, share, and do collaborative work using this shared information.
ArcGIS online is the capability of every part of the ArcGIS system to use this shared geographic information and content. Content is shared using the ArcGIS cloud infrastructure.
ArcGIS is used to share and disseminate geographic information as Web maps and GIS services. GIS professionals use ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server to create map services and other GIS services to share rich information—as Web maps, image services, editing services, geoprocessing services, and so forth. Once published, these can be discovered and used in many Web clients.
Using this approach, each GIS organization can make its information available to nonspecialists. This also enables the integration of information across organizations, providing a strong basis for collaboration.
How has ArcGIS Online changed in Version 10?
In previous releases, ESRI hosted a Web site named ArcGIS Online through which ESRI created and shared a gallery of ready-to-use Web maps and geographic data. All of the content was managed by ESRI, and this Web site was focused on providing access to map services and other GIS services.
At Version 10, ESRI still provides rich Web maps and GIS services. In addition, the ArcGIS system has been enabled to work everywhere:
On the Web
Using mobile devices and cell phones
On desktops and in workgroups and enterprises, where GIS professionals compiled and publish rich, interactive maps and geographic information
At ArcGIS 10, the Web is now fully integrated into all aspects of the system, allowing you to share information with others using the Web (in addition to ESRI's maps and data). All parts of the ArcGIS System (desktop, mobile, arcgis.com, server, and so on) have integrated online functionality (which is referred to as ArcGIS online).
The online capabilities of ArcGIS
Since all products in the ArcGIS system have online capabilities built in, you can manage your own maps and geographic information online and share these across user groups, which you can create, manage, and join for collaborative work.
Your content can be referenced in the Map and App Galleries that are part of ArcGIS online. You can view these on the Web at www.ArcGIS.com. Once you share your content, it can subsequently be discovered and used by others.
Users can work with the online capabilities built into all ArcGIS clients to find and use this shared information.
How users share information online using ArcGIS
All ArcGIS clients are fully integrated with the Web, enabling you to incorporate Web and online information into your GIS projects.
Here are some example ways in which you can share maps and geographic information using ArcGIS.
Creating and sharing a map and layer packages using ArcGIS Desktop
ArcGIS Desktop users can share their work with others using map packages and layer packages. Other Desktop users can search for, discover, and use their shared packages.
Here's how to get connected online and share a layer package.
Sign into ArcGIS online in ArcMap.
Right-click the desired layer in the map's Table of Contents, and select Create Layer Package.
Specify that you want to upload the layer package to ArcGIS online.
Validate the contents and click Share. Then, fill out the layer package properties panel. Optionally, you can specify the groups with which to share the package.
Subsequently, other Desktop users can get connected online to search for, discover, and download shared layer packages and other Desktop content.
Creating and sharing Web maps across the ArcGIS community
You can use www.ArcGIS.com to create and share Web maps. Web maps are online maps that reference a set of map and GIS services for use on any ArcGIS client—in desktops, Web applications, mobile devices, and ArcGIS Explorer Online. Each Web map is composed of one or more Web map services that are combined to create a useful map experience for ArcGIS users.
Web maps can be shared and used through the Web by anyone without the user having to install any ArcGIS software. A person can simply use their Web browser, mobile phone, or ArcGIS Explorer Online to access and use these Web maps. Web maps also work with ArcGIS Desktop as well.
Web maps bring geographic information to life and provide access to rich GIS information and tools that are behind each map display. ArcGIS.com has a web application that enables anyone to create and share Web maps.
Creating and sharing content in focused user groups
With an ArcGIS online login, you can create and join user groups. These are focused user communities who want to work together more closely. Users can define these groups and invite others to join.
You also have control over the content that you load into ArcGIS online and with whom you share it. You may choose to share certain content elements with a small set of users.
Who uses ArcGIS online?
ArcGIS Desktop users. These users have full GIS installed on their desktops. They compile GIS maps and their underlying geodatabases along with imagery, geoprocessing models, locators, and other ArcGIS documents. These documents and datasets can be shared among ArcGIS Desktop users as map packages, layer packages, and other ArcGIS elements. These users also often use ArcGIS Server to publish and serve much of their organization's GIS content for use on the Web and on mobile devices in the field.
Web GIS and mobile users. These users access ArcGIS.com from their Web browsers and mobile devices. They do not have any GIS software on their computers, but they can consume and apply GIS Web maps and applications that are created and published by the desktop user community.
Web developers. Developers use free Web APIs for ArcGIS to create focused map applications that can be deployed in the ArcGIS system. They can publish their Web and mobile applications in the ArcGIS.com application gallery.
Who shares with whom?
What do they share?
How do they share?
Desktop user to desktop user
Map documents and globe documents
Models and scripts
Use ArcGIS Desktop to connect online and manage content in online workspaces and share content via groups.
Desktop user to Web user
References to ArcGIS services:
Use ArcGIS Server to publish map and GIS services
Create and share Web maps at ArcGIS.com and their local server node
Create and share Web and mobile apps at ArcGIS.com and their local server node
Web user to Web user
Create and share Web Maps at ArcGIS.com
Web developer to Web user
Custom Web applications
Create Web apps using the free Web API's for ArcGIS. These Web apps use Web maps.