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Make offline maps

Explorer is a map viewing app and does not contain an authoring experience. However, you can create maps with your data to use in the app.

When your users work in areas with intermittent, low, or no connectivity, create an offline map that they can download and use locally on their devices. While they only get updates to downloaded maps if they remove the maps from their devices and download them again, offline maps let users continue working with the GIS data you've shared with them even without a data connection. To make offline maps for use in Explorer, author a mobile map package (MMPK) in ArcGIS Pro.

Note:

If your users always have a data connection, see Make online maps.

Make an offline map

Offline maps for Explorer are made in ArcGIS Pro by creating an MMPK with the following workflow:

  1. Create a project in ArcGIS Pro.
  2. Add your data, including a basemap, to the map.

    To include your data in the map, it needs to be local, file-based vector data. This includes shapefiles and file geodatabases. Make pop-ups for your features if your map users need to see details about the features. Add labels as well if your users will need them in the map.

  3. Optionally configure feature search by adding a locate provider or creating a locator.
  4. Package the data using the Create Mobile Map Package geoprocessing tool.
  5. Share your map.
  6. In Explorer, download the map, open it, and work with it offline in the same way as you would any other map.

Share your map

Once you have made an offline map, you can make it accessible in Explorer in one of the following two ways:

  • Share it through your ArcGIS organization and download it through Explorer—Offline maps shared through your organization can be kept private for your own use, shared among your groups or with your organization, or made public. You can share the offline map through ArcGIS Pro by using the Share Package geoprocessing tool. Alternatively, you can log in to your ArcGIS organization's portal and upload the .mmpk file. (See Share items in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise help.)
  • Sideload it onto the device where you use Explorer—For iPad and iPhone devices, use iTunes, go to your device, and select Apps. In the File Sharing section of the page, select Explorer and copy the .mmpk file into that folder. The map will show as an On Device map the next time the app is launched.

Tips

The following tips will help you make better offline maps:

  • Support feature search—By default, maps include the ability to search for places, addresses, and coordinates. Often, map users want to search for particular features they see on the map. When you author the map, there are two ways you can support feature search, depending on the requirements of your map.
    • Add a locate provider

      Using the Locate tool in ArcGIS Pro, you can add a locate provider so that your users can search for features. Add one for each searchable layer. A locate provider can search multiple fields in a layer, and you provide a search mode for each searchable field. Search suggestions are not supported with locate providers. They don't increase the file size of your offline map. See Find a feature using the Locate pane in the ArcGIS Pro help.

    • Create a locator

      You can create a locator in ArcGIS Pro that allows users to search for features. Create one for each searchable layer. Each one searches a single field. Locators can include search suggestions. Locators increase the file size of your offline map. See Create a locator in the ArcGIS Pro help.

  • Provide useful pop-ups—When users view information about features on the map, they are viewing the pop-up you created for that feature. When making your map, author a pop-up that provides information users need. See Configure pop-ups in the ArcGIS Pro help.
    Note:

    If features don't have pop-ups, users can't interact with them on the map.

  • Include labels—Your users may need to see labels on the map. You can make this available to them by configuring labels for the feature layers. See Labeling basics in the ArcGIS Pro help.
  • Use a vector tile package for the basemap—Vector tile packages use tiles of the data instead of raw data. They take all the layers of your map and turn them into a single, optimized layer that looks the same but displays faster. As a result, the data contained in them doesn't have attributes, you can't create pop-ups, and users can't search the contained data. But if you aren't regularly updating the basemap data used in your map, vector tile packages allow you to process the data into a basemap once, and reuse that each time you update the MMPK. This makes it much faster to create an MMPK and lets you update your operational data regularly without the cost of reprocessing your basemap layers each time the MMPK is generated.
  • Use the same name for the title of your map and .mmpk file name—Before an offline map is downloaded, the title shown in Explorer originates from the item details, which uses the name of the .mmpk file itself. Once downloaded, you see the name of the map as the title. To help your users understand the relationship between what they downloaded and what is now available on their device, use the same name for the map in ArcGIS Pro and the .mmpk file.
  • Similar to the last tip, use the default thumbnail for the item in your portal so that it doesn't change when the offline map is downloaded.

Limitations

The following are limitations when authoring maps for offline use in Explorer:

  • All data (including the basemap) must be local, file-based vector data. This includes shapefiles and file geodatabases.
  • All the basemap data needs to be contained in a single geodatabase.
    Tip:

    If your basemap has data from multiple geodatabases and you don't want to restructure it, consider making a vector tile package and using it as the basemap of your offline map.

  • Imagery (and other raster data) is not supported. If you include it, the Create Mobile Map Package geoprocessing tool won't run successfully.
  • Services can't be included in an offline map.

Exercise: Make an MMPK of stores in Paris

Creating an MMPK for Explorer is similar to creating one for Navigator for ArcGIS. If an exercise that walks you through each step for creating an MMPK would be helpful, follow the Make a map with all your own data Navigator exercise. In that exercise, there are steps specific for Navigator that you can skip if you're creating the map for Explorer: you don't need to create a custom travel mode or test it. You can create a locator for feature search (as shown in the exercise), or you can enable feature search by adding a locate provider. Instead of testing the map in Navigator, test it in Explorer.