Set up custom data

The custom data setup workflow allows you to add custom data and use it along with Esri Demographics data and other data included with ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App. You can select a data source and set up the variables for use through the data browser. The data source is a file you import, or an existing layer. Custom data uses variables from the data source along with some metadata of how to statistically apportion or calculate numeric data. The metadata file is stored in your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise organization as an item type called Statistical Data Collection.


The custom data setup workflow is available to users with a Business Analyst Web App Advanced license. To learn more about Business Analyst license types, see Licenses. If you have a Standard license, you can’t add custom data, but you can use the data browser to access custom data that other users have shared with you.

Configure custom data

To set up custom data, do the following:

  1. On the Maps tab, click Add data and select Custom data setup.

    The Custom data setup pane appears.

  2. Click Start setup, and select a data source using one of the following methods:
    • Existing layer—Use the Choose layer drop-down menu to select an existing layer:
      • Browse for a layer—Select an available layer in ArcGIS Online. This is similar to selecting a web map or layer in Add web maps and layers.
      • Layer on map—Select a layer that is currently on the map. If there is no selectable layer on the map, this option will not appear.
      • Layer from project—Select a layer from the current project. If the current project has no selectable layers, this option will not appear.
      • Enter URL—Add data by directly providing a layer URL. You can also type the URL for a feature service on ArcGIS Online that has data layers that can be added and select any layer that has at least one numeric field.
    • Import file—Import an Excel file or shapefile to add point data, polygonal boundaries, or geographic boundaries. Click Browse and select a file on your device. Click Import. When importing an Excel or .csv file, you will select the type of data being imported: point locations or geographic boundaries. If the file has a standard geography attribute in the data table—for example, ZIP Codes or counties—you can select the Geographic boundaries option.

    If you selected an Excel or .csv file with the Geographic boundaries option, a polygon shapefile, or an existing polygon web layer, you will also select the type of layer to set up. You can select Polygon layer. However, if the data represents administrative boundaries (also known as standard geographies)—for example, counties—it is recommended that you select Standard geography layer to ensure that the polygons are correctly associated with the standard geographic boundaries they represent. You must match the applicable geographic boundary type to the geographic ID field. For example, if you are setting up custom data for counties, select Counties in the Geographic boundary level drop-down list, and in the Geography ID field drop-down list, select the attribute that has the county IDs.

  3. Click Next.
  4. To configure the selected variables, click Options Options and click Configure variable(s). To configure all variables, click Options Options at the top and click Configure all.

    The Configure variables window appears. Variable configuration settings affect how the data is displayed and used in the data browser, infographics, and reports.

  5. Optionally, edit the following variable properties and click Apply or Save when you are finished:
    • Display name—Set the variable name that is shown in the data browser. You can edit this only when configuring a single variable.
    • Vintage—Set the vintage year that is shown in the info button in the data browser.
    • Summary type—Define the way aggregated values are summarized. For the polygons that intersect the target area, Sum adds up the aggregated values and Average calculates the average of aggregated values. When using Average as the summary type, null values are omitted from calculations.
    • Weight—Define the field used to calculate the weighted sum. This additional parameter is available only when Average is selected for Summary type. When Average is not selected, None is automatically selected for Weight.

      When you have a variable for a median or proportional value in your data, the weighted average is useful for determining the value of that variable across multiple areas.

    • Type—Set the variable type, for example: Integer, Decimal, Currency, Percent.
    • Precision—For supported variable types, set the number of digits after the decimal point.
    • Category and Subcategory—Choose the way that the variable is grouped and displayed in the data browser.

    You can switch to Table view at the top and configure variables in the table. To reduce the number of steps needed to configure, you can edit the properties common to multiple variables and individually edit the Display name text for each variable in the table. Click any cell in the table to edit the value or select a different value in the drop-down list.

  6. On the Category view tab, the variables from the selected data layer and the categories are displayed. Click the data source name to view metadata for the layer in ArcGIS Online. Configure the variables by adding them to categories and editing variable properties. Use the following options:
    • By default, there is only one category. Click Add category to add a category.
    • To edit a category, hover over it and click Edit Edit. The Edit custom category window appears. You can edit the Title text and other settings.
    • Click Search Search to search for variables by keyword.
    • Click Filter Filter to open the Filter variables window. Use the drop-down menus and text field to specify a filter. Click Add filter to add a filter. Optionally, on the Show variables matching drop-down menu, filter the list of the variables by applying specified filters. Click Apply.
    • Click a variable to select it. Press Ctrl while clicking to add a variable to the selection and press Shift while clicking to select multiple variables. To add the selected variables to a category, drag them onto the category. Alternatively, click Options Options next to the variable, and click Add to category.
  7. When you are finished, click Save.

    The variables you configured are saved and categories you created are saved as custom data.

Manage custom data

Custom data that you set up is available under the My data tab in the Custom data setup workflow pane. Every category that you created from a data source is saved as custom data. Under Data shared with me, you can access the data others in your organization have shared with you. Click Search Search to search for custom data on the selected tab. Click Refresh Refresh to refresh the custom data list. Click Options Options next to a layer for the following options:

  • Edit—Open the custom data layer to edit it.
  • Change layer type—Change the layer type. For example, if you set up a data source using the Polygon layer option, you can change it to a standard geography layer by specifying the Geographic boundary level setting and Geography ID field.
  • Share—Use the Share custom data window to select your organization or groups and share this custom data layer with them.

    • If you use an imported file as the data source, you must also share the project.
    • If you use an existing layer as the data source, you must also share the layer.
    If the additional sharing step is not completed, some users may experience an error when they use the shared custom data.

  • Disable—Disable the custom data layer so it is no longer available in the data browser. The layer will still appear in this list and you can enable it again anytime.
  • View metadata—View the metadata for the layer.
  • Remove—Permanently remove the custom data layer. To use the custom data layer again, you must add it using the custom data setup workflow.

Editing the category variables or changing the layer type may cause issues for any items you created using the variables—for example, custom infographic templates, custom reports, and so on.

Under Data shared with me, only the Disable and View metadata options are available for a layer.

Use custom data

You can use custom data in workflows that support the layer's data type (points or polygons), by selecting the variables in the data browser. The My data tab lists the custom data you added and set up previously. Custom data other users have shared with you is available under Data shared with me.

Set preferences

You can set preferences for Business Analyst Web App in the application preferences. For the custom data setup workflow, you can turn the workflow intro page on or off and decide whether to show warning messages when custom data is accessed from multiple sources. Administrators can set preferences for the entire organization.

To set the workflow preferences, do the following:

  1. On the top ribbon, click Preferences Preferences.

    The Preferences window opens.

  2. Expand the Maps section, expand the Add data section, and click Custom data.
  3. You can set the following preferences:
    • Use the Show custom data intro page check box to display or skip the How to use this workflow introduction step when the Custom data setup pane is opened.

    • Use the Show warning message when custom data is accessed from multiple sources check box to display or disable the warning message about possible problems when custom data is accessed from multiple layers.

  4. To restore the default settings, click Restore defaults.
  5. To save your changes, click Save or, optionally, click Save and close to close the Preferences window. To view your changes, refresh the app.

Workflow video