ArcGIS Online Mapping

Notes on ArcGIS Online Mapping (with or without having taken a GIS class)

(return to the SAL Tutorials page)

ArcGIS Online provides a (relatively) simple platform for creating online maps and conducting simple spatial analysis. ArcGIS Online user accounts are free to WWU faculty, students and staff and provide access to both online mapping tools and to online tutorials.


See notes on WWU ArcGIS user accounts. Some of these details are specific to using ArcGIS Pro (which is a desktop GIS software), and can be ignored if you are only interested in online mapping. You will need to create a WWU ArcGIS Online user account. These are 'Organizational Login' accounts that will use your WWU user name and password.


See notes on Logging in to ArcGIS Online (using your WWU ArcGIS Online user account)


The Home page of ArcGIS Online contains a series of tabs:

  • Home
  • Gallery (examples of web maps created by WWU students, faculty and staff)
  • Map (where you can create web maps)
  • Scene (where you can create 3-D web maps)
  • Groups (that you may be a member of)
  • Content (a list of any Maps, Scenes, or other content you have created)
  • Organization (information about WWU's ArcGIS Online organization)


ArcGIS Online makes a distinction between a 'Web Map' and a 'Web Map App' (or 'Web Mapping Application'). A web map is where you build your map, adding layers or data, symbolizing data, adding labels or configuring pop-ups, etc. A web map app is simply a web map that has been packaged and polished to be shared with the public. Essentially, the web map is behind the scenes and the web map app is what you share with the world. Of course, you can simply share a web map, allowing your users to add data themselves, etc., but for the most part web maps are shared via a web map app. Web map apps also allow for the inclusion of different configuration options (a legend, measuring, drawing or printing tools, the ability to compare different data layers, etc.).

To Create a Web Map:

  • Sign in to
    • Use the Your ArcGIS Organization's URL login option (formerly labeled as Enterprise Login)
    • Enter wwu for your organization's url (
    • Click the Western Washington University link
    • Enter your WWU user name and password (if necessary)
  • Click the Map tab
  • Pan / Zoom to the location you wish to display on your map
  • Optionally choose a different Basemap 
    • Choose from a selection of pre-made ESRI basemaps: Imagery, Streets, Topographic, etc
  • Optionally Search for or add your own data to the map
    • Search for online data from WWU or other organizations, including ESRI
  • Optionally Symbolize the data in your map as desired...
  • Optionally configure the pop-ups for any of your data layers
  • Save and Share your map (with individuals, a group or with the general public)
  • Optionally create a Web Map App 
    • ESRI provides a series of App templates
    • Most can be configured and customized
    • You can also use the Web AppBuilder to build/configure your own, custom app
    • There are also 'Story Maps' that are like a mashup of a web map (or maps) and a PowerPoint presentation
    • A single web map can be used in one or multiple web map apps...
    • Be sure that BOTH your web map AND your web map app are Shared with 'Everyone (public)' if you want them to be publicly viewable

ESRI Tutorials and Resources

For more information and online tutorials, see: