My 3 favorite things about the ArcGIS Online November release

December 4, 2015 — Ryan Potts

Esri has recently released an update to ArcGIS Online that provides some very exciting improvements and enhancements to the platform.  Improvements were made in many key areas including: administration, user experience, and hosted content.  Let’s take a look at some of the new capabilities that I think the user community will be really excited about.

Smart Mapping
ArcGIS Online now includes some nice data-driven tools to quickly create web maps.  These tools analyze the data that is added to a web map, and then present the user with some recommended ways to style and visualize the data.

These new styles include:  Color & Size, Unique Symbols & Size, and Compare A to B.  These new tools can be really helpful for users looking to take a dataset and quickly author a visually appealing web map.

An example of new color ramps in the Nov. release of ArcGIS Online

Esri has many online resources if you are interested in digging into more details about what is new in Smart Mapping:

What’s New in Smart Mapping (November 2015)

Smart Mapping Story Map


Organization Administration Improvements
For organizations that will be administering a large number of users, there have been some nice additions to ArcGIS Online Administration with the November release.  One very exciting thing is a new series of reports for apps that are now available.

This allows organizations to track details about apps that have been published in their organization, the most popular apps published by the organization, and member sign-in activity.  These can really be helpful in determining who your most active users are, and what are the apps folks in your organization are depending on every single day to get their work done.

A sample chart showing application analytics

Other key improvements have been added to the November release.  You can download credit usage via a CSV file if you are interested in analyzing this data using other applications.  You can assign roles in bulk by using the “Add All” option to apply a role to all members in your organization.  There are also some nice improvements for enterprise logins.

Check out these additional resources for more information:

Configure Roles

Reports for Apps



Vector Tile Basemaps (Beta)
There were so many different improvements to hosted content in the November release, it was difficult to choose which one to call out.  From things like additional levels of detail in popular basemaps, upgraded demographic maps, and a new World Hillshade basemap layer, hosted content has received a significant boost in this latest release.

So why Vector Tile Basemaps then?  Vector Tile Basemaps are really a glimpse into the future of web mapping on the Esri platform.  Vector Tiles allow the distribution of rich cartography which can be used on multiple devices and form factors.  They also support client side customization of the look and feel, so now developers have the ability to tailor the style of the map .

In the past, large volumes of data would need to be cached on servers to provide basemap information, but now, according to Esri, Vector Tiles “remove the need to pre-cache different styled tiles as well as providing access to the underlying data in each tile”.

A sample of a new Vector Basemap

Esri has mentioned that the capability of authoring Vector Basemaps from ArcGIS Pro is coming soon, so users will be able to publish their own Vector Tile content to ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS online.  This will be a great expansion of the use of Vector Tiles across the platform.

With the proliferation of mobile devices with high-resolution displays, Vector Tiles and Basemaps will be a critical part to the future of distributing your geographic content across your organization.

Here is some additional information regarding Vector Tiles:

Introducing Esri Vector Basemaps (beta)

Vector Tiles Preview



This post has just been a glimpse into all of the new capabilities available with the ArcGIS Online November release.  I highly recommend you check out Esri’s Blog post (What’s New in ArcGIS Online) for a comprehensive overview of all of the additions for this release.

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Ryan Potts works as a Senior Consultant for the Utility and Telecommunications consulting company SSP Innovations, headquartered in Centennial, Colorado.  Ryan has over 11 years of Experience in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), more than 6 of these specializing in Product Sales, Management, and Development of GIS capabilities to support fiber Read more

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