The web map

Web maps are sharable maps hosted on the ArcGIS Platform. The web map defines a common standard describing how maps look and behave. Web maps allow different applications, APIs and SDKs, to create, edit, and display maps. Web maps can be used in ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, Navigator, Collector, Storymaps, Esri’s configurable apps, apps made with Runtime SDKs and the JavaScript API, and many other products.

The web map specification

The web map specification:

  • Standardizes the way ArcGIS apps, products, and APIs share maps.
  • Ensures that maps authored in one application function properly across all web map supporting applications.
  • Provides a common standard for applications that create, edit, and consume the web map specification.

The specification is in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), a text format that can easily be transferred, stored, and edited. The following is the abbreviated JSON format of this full example of a web map for earthquakes:

   "authoringApp": "WebMapViewer",
   "authoringAppVersion": "4.1",
   "version": "2.4",
   "baseMap": { ... },
   "spatialReference": { ... },
   "operationalLayers": [ {
       "layers":[ ... ] } ],
   "bookmarks": [ ... ],
   "applicationProperties": { ... }

Display, create, & edit web maps

Web maps are used across the ArcGIS platform. A map created in one application is accessible and looks the same in other applications that implement the web map specification.

Writing applications that include capabilities defined by the web map specification, such as rendering operational layers, visualizing data, pop-ups, and labeling, can result in a lot of code. Instead, developers use the web map to reduce development time without compromising flexibility.

For example, the web map specification defines how to display popups for a layer. Instead of writing custom code to display a popup and having to update that code to change a popup users can configure how they want the popup to be displayed with ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro and that change will propagate automatically into all applications consuming that web map.

Although creating or editing a web map using a simple text editor can be useful in some situations, an easy way to make or edit a web map is to use one of the tools available, such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, or Portal for ArcGIS. ArcGIS Online is one of the most common tools used to create and share maps. You can also create web maps in the latest version of ArcGIS Runtime.

Regardless of where/how you create a web map, it works across the ArcGIS Platform.

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