Working with Web Map and Configuring Feature Layers


Working with feature layers and/or publishing feature classes to feature layers are often common map layer management practices.  Working with adding and styling map layers as part of the web map design process is a key aspect of Web GIS and the focal point for using the web map in a Web Map App or mobile app.  One can stop at the web map phase, but most end users aren’t going to have the knowledge or skill to function in the web map environment.  Typically, those skilled in GIS, the ArcGIS Online platform and knowledge of GIS concepts and practices will spend a significant time in the Web Map portion of ArcGIS online and then design and update Web Map Apps for the end user (non-technical).

Knowing where to search and add map layers to the web map is key, but the majority of time is spent styling the map layers (color, transparency, line type and thickness) as well as labeling (if you even need to do this), filtering, and configuring pop-ups, the dialogs that appear when an end user clicks on a geographic feature.

Key Concepts

Remember these key concepts of Web GIS when working with web-based layers and web maps.

  1. Feature layers (map layers that exist as web-based services on the ESRI cloud can be searched for and used from ArcGIS Online (or if a local Portal is set up, feature layers can be searched and added to a web map.
  2. A feature class (a file geodatabase or SDE—enterprise geodatabase feature class) can be used to create or update a feature service (feature layer) in ArcGIS Online from Pro. 
    1. Create a new feature layer using (Share as Web Layer)
    2. Update an existing feature layer using (Overwrite Web Layer)
  3. A Web Map is configured by adding feature layers from an organizations ArcGIS Online account (often the data is found in My Content) and can also be found within other groups within the organization. Layers can be styled (color, labels, pop-ups) to suit the needs of the end user or group (customer/client/organization).  A Web Map is where one styles and creates “the map” to be used in a Web Map Application or a mobile app (such as Field Mapper or ArcGIS Explorer).
  4. Web Map Applications (Web Map Apps) are created from Web Maps. Web Map Apps provide additional “tools” in the form of widgets.  We will learn more about Web Map Applications in upcoming classes.

Getting Started with Web Maps and Feature Layer Configuration

  1. Adding data from an Organization’s ArcGIS Online (AGOL) account
  2. Adding data from the web (i.e. ArcGIS Online)…think of this as the entire Internet of GIS data that has been shared to everyone to discover and use. Remember, there is no need to “download” or make a copy of the data for one to use it in a web map (or even in Pro). 

One caveat is if there is some requirement to “add value” to the data set that is not already managed in the source’s ArcGIS Online account.  The example using the Schools layer from the City of Sacramento originates from the state educational department.  The City downloads and updates their own schools layer because a “schools grounds” polygon feature class is maintained for various internal business needs that are not managed by the state.

  1. Work with Styling Options
    1. Create some color changes (or icons) for different feature layers used in the web map
    2. Configure the pop up. NOTE:  Arcade can be used with styling, configuring pop ups, transparency, and labeling.

At the end of creating a web map and adding some styling, the web map is read for use in Web Map Apps (viewers, dashboards, experience builders, and/or mobile apps such as Field Mapper or ArcGIS Explorer).