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Best practices for sharing

The web has had an impact on how we obtain information, connect with others, and accomplish our daily work. GIS has also been transformed by the web—it’s now easier to access content, create diverse maps and apps, and share results. But the web has also added new challenges for verifying what is authoritative and relevant. You have a compelling set of maps, layers, scenes, analytics, and layers. How do you make sure your content stands out?

Below are some best practices for making sure your content stands out as authoritative and compelling.

Relevant information

Relevant information is a key component of a great map or app. Whether topical, general interest, operational, or a showcase, great shared items convey useful information in an attractive and usable format. Some examples include an imagery map of a current environmental disaster, a layer showing county-level federal spending on health care, and a JavaScript routing sample that includes a code attachment.

Attractive thumbnail image

A beautiful thumbnail image will help your item stand out in a list of search results. Check the image that the website adds by default. If it doesn't seem inspiring or accurate, replace it with your own.

For best results, add an image that is 600 pixels wide by 400 pixels high or larger with an aspect ratio of 1.5:1 in a web file format such as PNG, JPEG, or GIF. Pan and zoom to what you want to appear in your thumbnail. Depending on the size and resolution of your image file and how far you zoom in to customize the thumbnail, the image may be resampled and scaled when it's saved. If you add an image in GIF or JPEG format, it will be converted to PNG when it's saved.

Informative item details

Be clear and specific in describing your item details. Spend some time coming up with an informative title, a summary, a description, and tags so others understand the purpose of your content. Use the Item Information section on the Overview tab to help you identify missing or incomplete item information and find out how to improve it. Be sure to include accurate terms of use, credits, and spatial extent. You can also assign one or more categories to your item, and consider designating it as authoritative, to make it easier for others to find and understand the purpose and reliability of your item. Finally, be sure to respond to any comments about your item. You can even proactively add comments to promote a specific feature of your map or app. For example, you could encourage users to check out a new aerial image you added to your map.

Descriptive profile

Take advantage of your profile to establish your authority in geographic information, map design, app development, and so on. Useful descriptive information includes your first and last name, the organization you belong to, contact information, and your areas of expertise and interests. Adding an image that represents you or your organization will help personalize your description.

Usable sharing properties

Before you share your item, consider your sharing privileges and the security settings of your organization. Then consider the format and your audience. Do you want to share a map, an app, embed a map in your website, add a file to a group? For example, if you want to share data with your constituents who probably don't have ArcGIS Desktop but do have access to the Internet, you could publish your data as a web layer, create a story map, and embed the app in your website. If you need to share service definitions with other map makers in your organization, you could create a group, package the data in a file, and share the file to that group. Regardless of the format or audience, be sure all the resources in your item have the correct sharing properties. For example, if you want to share a gallery app with everyone, be sure the group, all the items in the group, and the app are public.


You may need to share your item with different audiences at different times. For example, you might create an app, such as a story map, that you want reviewed for feedback—first by colleagues in your organization and then by a selection of individuals outside the organization—before sharing it with the public. In this type of scenario, the following steps are recommended:

  1. Create a group that is viewable by group members. Share your app item—as well as any layers, maps, and scenes in the app—with the group, and invite reviewers from your organization to join the group. Send the reviewers a link to your app.
  2. Once the internal review is complete, share your app with reviewers outside the organization by inviting them to join the group.
  3. When you're ready to make your app public, change the sharing properties of the item (and resources used in the app) and of the group to make them accessible to the public.

Delete protection

To prevent accidental deletion of your item, consider enabling delete protection. This ensures that your shared item remains accessible until you change its delete protection status.