Esri Location Analytics Tools in an Organization: Using ArcGIS Online to Publish a Web Application for Distribution

In my last post I showed you how you can use Excel and Esri Maps for MicroSoft Office to create a useful map within Excel and then publish it to ArcGIS Online so you could share the map.  Now I want to walk through the process of using ArcGIS Online to enhance that map, create an application that can be used in a desktop, tablet, and mobile phone browser.

So the first step is to log in to ArcGIS Online. (http://www. arcgis.com).

Enter in your credentials. (Quick note, your username is now case sensitive – a change from other Esri sites).

Once you log in you will be taken to the Main Site. It will look a bit different for you than the screen shot below; as we have an organizationally branded site. The Banner across the top will be identical though.

So first off, I want to see where my map of Hotel locations is published, to check on that I simply click MY CONTENT.  I can see everything that I have published to my account here. You can see that both the Hotels Feature layer is there as a Feature Service and the Map is there as a Web Map, and both are shared to everyone.  I am able to select any one of the items and change the status, delete, or start using them in the map authoring tool here in ArcGIS Online.

I want to Open up the Web Map and work with it a bit to get it ready to for use in an application. So I just double click on the name and I get the Summary page for the Web Map. This shows me all the information I added during the publishing phase and the URL links for both the Hotel feature service and the Base Map feature map service (Topographic).  It also lets me start a Map session by selecting the Open Button and select the Open in ArcGIS.com map viewer.

This starts up the Map Viewer which gives me some options to enhance my map. I can change the base map if I decide I don’t like my original choice, change the way the pop up is configured, change the layer styling, etc. All the things I did in Excel I could have done here. But since I have shared the Feature service someone else can take that and set it up the way they like and re-share it as a new map.  That reminds me, I just realized that this would be a much more useful map if the folks looking for hotels also knew where our office actually was.

Now I don’t remember if I have published a feature service with our office locations myself or if someone else in the organization has, but it doesn’t matter. I can search and see what is there. Selecting the Add drop down from the main panel and choosing Search for Layers, I can see if there is a layer available that makes sense to use.

This brings up a search panel from which I can search through my own content, all of the shared content in My Organization, or all of the content available in ArcGIS Online, and the web for that matter.

Oh look, I did publish a GISi Offices feature Service already,

I click the add button and that feature is added to my map.  Again, this data could have come from anywhere that I searched.

Now that I can show where the office is relative to where the hotels are, I have a much more informative map.  Maybe later someone in the company will get excited and create a service with the local favorite restaurants or places to visit too.

Next I will simply save my map by selecting the Save drop down. I could do a Save As, but don’t need to in this instance.

Now let’s get this Map ready for Prime Time and put it to work. I want to embed this Map in an application that I can in turn use directly from the web, on a mobile device, and insert into a SharePoint site.  I can do this all without pestering a programmer (I prefer to let them wrestle with tougher problems anyway, I think they prefer that as well).

To start, I simply click on the Share button above my map (right next to the Save button I just used).

Wow, look at these options. I have a direct link to the map, I can Share the link through Facebook and Twitter, I can embed the map into a website, and I can Make a Web Application. I can also restrict usage of anything I do here too. One thing to note, at whatever level you share a Map or Application, your features need to be shared at that level as well or they won’t work.

So let’s look real quick at what happens when I click on the Embed in a Web Site button.

Look at that. Man, I can just cut and paste this code into a web application, like our corporate web site, set the size I want the map to be at and what navigation tools to add and BAM we are in business.  This is a little too programmy for what I am trying to do right now though so I am going to go back and take a look at the Create an Application path and see where that leads.

Okay, this looks interesting.  What we have here are a series of template applications waiting for a map. The best thing I can tell you here is to explore each one of these to see what they do and what they look like. Esri makes this easy. Simply hover over any one of the thumbnails and you get a brief description. But better yet, if you pull down that little down arrow next to the word Publish you will get three choices:

  • Publish – which creates and publishes the application for you,
  • Download, which is a good way to provide a programmer a jumpstart on an application that they can customize, and
  • Preview, which is the most useful for seeing how your Map will behave in each of these applications.

I have found one that looks like it will create a web page and work on mobile devices too. An added bonus for me and what my app is supposed to be for. So I select the preview button and this pops up in a new browser window. It is a fully functional application. You can see that the Pop Ups I created in the Excel phase works well.

Being satisfied that this will work for me and that I will also create a mobile version (form adjusts to the size of the browser on the mobile device – it is still a web app) I am going to go back and Publish this Application.

One more time, I need to give the application a name and some metadata about it to help the discovery process for anyone else.

I hit Save & Publish and ArcGIS Online goes to work for a few seconds and then get the following message about the next steps.

Some of the applications do have some configuration that you can perform to futher customize it; like what color scheme to use and what tools to add. In my case I just want to share the application so I click on the link in the form and get sent to my Application Summary Screen where I can manage the application. At this point I just want to share it.

And I have one more chance to determine how widely I distribute the app.

Hit OK and I am done.  Notice the URL that is provided in the summary screen. This is all I need now to share my application; I can send this out to my team. Below are a couple of screen shots from my phone and tablet of the application I just published!

From my Android Phone

From my Android Tablet

In my final blog of this series I will show you how I can embed and use this same application within SharePoint.

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