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Share your map in a web application

The most compelling web maps tell stories about trends and patterns over geographic space. They may explain where people are buying homes, where sea surface temperature is changing, or where elephants travel in the summer. These maps share information, not just data.

If you've only worked with ArcGIS Desktop in the past, you may wonder what process you have to follow to get your data into a compelling web application that tells a story. There are several steps:

  1. Design and share your map services.
  2. Make a web map in your portal (using ArcGIS Enterprise for on-premises deployments or ArcGIS Online for Esri cloud-based deployments).
  3. Share your web map as a web app using a configurable app, an app builder such as Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, or a Story Map.

Here's a summary of the above steps, with some links to more detailed help.

Design and share your map services

Map services make maps you've created in Esri desktop applications available to a web audience. When you've created a map in ArcMap, you can publish it to ArcGIS Server as a map service. When you've created a map in ArcGIS Pro, you can share it with your ArcGIS Enterprise portal or with ArcGIS Online; this web map or web layer is powered by a map service published to the portal's federated server.

Websites can use your map services through the URL, or web address, of the server that hosts it. Before you can share your information on the web, you need to design a few maps that you can make available as services.

Your design process begins in ArcGIS Desktop, using the same cartographic tools you're already familiar with. When you design your map services, you need to consider that they might overlay other map services with different colors, patterns, and resolutions of data. You might also consider that the map service could be cached, or predrawn at certain scales, for fast performance. If this is the case, you can focus your cartographic design on those particular scales.

When you're ready to share your map, you don't have to leave ArcMap. Just do the following:

  1. Click File > Share As > Service from the main menu.
  2. Complete a short wizard that helps you create a draft service. You'll need to provide a name for your service and the connection information for the ArcGIS Server on which it will be published.
  3. Use the Analyze button to review your map for performance bottlenecks, the Preview button to see what your map will look like as a service, and the Publish button when you're ready to make your map service available to others.

See Publishing a map service for more detailed steps.

Make a web map

When you make a web map, you overlay the map services that best tell your story. Often, a web map displays a map service with business data (such as available stands of timber) on top of a map service with reference information (such as imagery or a shaded relief map).

The steps below can be followed in ArcGIS Enterprise with your data and resulting map stored on-premises or in ArcGIS Online, where they are hosted in the cloud.

  1. Open a web browser to your portal's home page or, if using ArcGIS Online, browse to
  2. Click Sign In and enter credentials for a named user account. This ensures that you'll be able to save and come back to the maps you make.
  3. Click Map. You'll see a basemap service already added for you. This is hosted by Esri.
  4. Click Add to add map services on top of the basemap. You can search for publicly available services, such as those hosted by Esri, or you can type the URL to your own ArcGIS Server site.
  5. Pan and zoom to your area of interest.
  6. Optionally choose to change the rendering style of your map.

    In the Contents pane, hover over the added layer and click the Change Style button.

  7. Click Save and save your map. Your map information is stored within your named user's content. You can always come back to it using the same account you used to log in.

From here, you can print your map, explore it, or even edit features in it, if it includes a service on which editing has been enabled. For more about web maps, see Make your first map in the ArcGIS Enterprise help. Or continue reading below to learn how to put your map in a web app.

Make a web app

The ArcGIS platform provides several options for creating web apps and customizing web maps to showcase your design and functionality. These options vary in functional purpose as well as in effort, depending on your preferences and experience. The configurable apps and app builders are designed for a nondeveloper audience and enable you to build apps with just a few clicks. The ArcGIS web APIs and SDKs are geared toward developers and those who want to extend apps beyond out-of-the box functionality.

For more about these and other options, see the Configurable Apps & App Builders topics on the ArcGIS for Developers site.

In this example, you will use Web AppBuilder to build a basic web app in your portal. Web AppBuilder is an intuitive what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) application that allows you to easily build web apps without writing code. With Web AppBuilder, you can build and customize apps that run on desktop, tablets, and smartphones with ready-to-use widgets such as querying, geoprocessing, and printing. To learn more, see About Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS in the ArcGIS Enterprise help.

  1. With your map open in Map Viewer, click Share.
  2. Click Create a Web App.
  3. Select the Web AppBuilder tab and refine title, tags, and summary as necessary.
  4. Click Get Started.
  5. Accept the default theme, map, and widgets or experiment with the various options and settings available.
  6. Click Save to save your changes.
  7. Click Launch to view the application in a browser.

The web application you've just created is automatically saved as an item within your member's account content. You may share it with others in your organization and continue to modify its theme, map, attributes, and functionality, as needed.