ArcGIS Online is Esri's Software as a Service offering that represents GIS as a service. Portal for ArcGIS is software technology from Esri that customers can deploy either on premises or in the cloud. Both products allow users and organizations to author and share maps and data via a portal that supports users, groups, and sharing.
The ArcGIS REST API offers resources for working with users, groups, and content within a Portal for ArcGIS implementation or within ArcGIS Online. This part of the ArcGIS REST API, when used in conjunction with the ArcGIS Web and ArcGIS Device/Runtime APIs, allows developers to build web, device, and desktop applications that support sharing and collaboration using web maps. Organizational developers can also use these APIs to build custom applications for their users.
Aspects of the portal-specific resources of the ArcGIS REST API are integrated into the object models of the web and device client APIs.
Portals allow users and organizations to publish and share content over the web.
A portal can have users who are unaffiliated with an organization or users who are part of an organization. A portal has users, groups, and content. Users sign in to the portal and create and share content. The system supports different types of items including the following:
- Maps—Web maps that can be displayed on all supported platforms (web, mobile, and desktop)
- Layers—Feature, map and image services that can be added as layers in web maps
- Applications—Web and mobile applications whose content is provided by web maps
- Tools—Geocoding, routing, and other task-based services that can be used by applications
- Datafiles—Files that can be uploaded, stored, and downloaded and in certain cases, activated to create services (map layers)
Users can keep content private to themselves, shared it with other users via groups, or make it public and accessible to everyone.
Users can create and join groups. Users can share items with groups. This makes the items visible to and accessible by other members of the group.
A user of the portal (and of the REST API) sees the view of the portal that applies to their organization. This view includes the users, groups, and items that belong to the organization and have been shared with the accessing user. This view can also include users, groups, and items that are external to the organization and have been shared with the accessing user.
An organization has users in different roles including administrators, publishers, and information workers.
Administrators can add users to their organizations and have access to all content within the organization.
All users can create web maps based on mashing up services to which they have access and can register services running on external servers.
Publishers within an organization can in addition create services based on data files that they upload. These hosted services run on an elastic infrastructure that is part of arcgis.com.
Hosted services are REST-based geospatial services that are hosted within ArcGIS Online as opposed to being contained in an external ArcGIS Server. Hosted services support the ArcGIS REST API and appear similar to any other ArcGIS Server service to consumers. A hosted service (as well as any external ArcGIS Server service that is registered with ArcGIS Online/a portal) is represented by an item of the appropriate service type, for example a map service or feature service, within the portal. In both cases, the item within the portal representing the service contains the URL to the service endpoint. In the case of hosted services, the item represents the service, and deleting it will result in deleting the service. In the case of external services, the portal item represents a link to the service.
The API for working with portals can be used either anonymously or with authentication. Anonymous users see an anonymous view of the portal. Authenticated users of the REST API see the view of the portal that applies to the authenticated user.
The REST API is organized around resources and operations on those resources.
The Portal Self resource represents the view of the portal exposed to the accessing user. It includes the ID of the organization that this view of the portal belongs to if the accessing user is a member of an organization. If the accessing user is not a member of an organization, the default view of the portal is returned. The Portal resource includes information on the name and logo for the portal, the groups containing the featured content for the portal, and other customizable aspects of the portal for an organization.
Content resources are modeled under the [Content Root] resource. Every piece of content has a unique item ID and is addressable via an Item resource with a unique URL based on that ID. Access to this resource is governed by the sharing rules. Every piece of content is also modeled as a User Item under the User Content resource for the owning user. This resource is accessible only by the owner and allows users to organize their items into personal folders to help with management of their item collections. These resources are not shared or visible to others. The Group Content resource represents the content that has been shared with a group and is accessible by members of the group.
The ArcGIS REST API evolves such that the input parameters and the JSON responses are version compatible. The API follows the same versioning philosophy as ArcGIS Server. The root REST resource for the portal, available at https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest(for ArcGIS Online) or https://<host>:<port>/arcgis/sharing/rest (for your own portal), exposes the portal's version as a response property.