Add web maps and layers

A web map is an interactive display of geographic information that you can use to tell stories, answer questions, and inform decisions. Web maps contain a basemap, a set of data layers, and a map extent. You can add a web map or an individual layer to a project.

You can search, browse, and filter content to find and add web maps and layers within your organization and, if enabled by your administrator, in ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Enterprise, and ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. When relevant web maps or layers are added to a project, you can perform analyses.

To add web maps or layers, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Maps tab, click Add data and choose Web maps and layers.

    The Web maps and layers window appears. Content in the Web maps and layers window is grouped in tabs. By default, the My content tab is selected, showing all web maps and feature layers created by you. If your organization’s administrator has added a custom tab, it is the first tab and selected by default.

  2. Click any of the tabs to browse content.

    Your organization's administrator determines which tabs are available from the following:

    • My content—Content created by you.
    • My groups—Content created and shared by users of groups to which you belong.
    • My organization—Content created and shared by other users in your organization. If you belong to more than one ArcGIS organization and have set preferences for web maps and layers, you can use the Choose source organization drop-down menu to switch organizations.
    • Living Atlas—Content from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.
    • ArcGIS—Publicly shared content on ArcGIS Online.
    • Subscription layers—If you have licenses for ArcGIS Marketplace content, those web maps and layers are listed under this tab.
    • Recently added—Recently added web maps and layers in the current project.
  3. Click List List to browse content as a list. Click Grid Grid to return to the default grid view. Click Refresh Refresh to refresh the content. To find web maps and feature layers, do any of the following:
    • Sort content—By default, content is sorted by title. Use the Sort by drop-down menu to choose a different sorting method: recent, views, rating, or owner.
    • Search content—To search content on the currently selected tab, enter a search term and click Search Search or press Enter. You can also enter the URL or item ID of an ArcGIS Online web map or layer you want to add.
    • Filter content—By default, all content on the selected tab is displayed. You can apply one or more filters to further refine the displayed content. Check the Filter by map extent check box to limit the web maps and layers to those matching the current map extent. Depending on which tab is selected, you can filter by Folders, Categories, Item type, Last modified date, Sharing status, Ratings, Tags, Groups, and Regions.
  4. To learn more about a web map or feature layer, hover over its thumbnail image.

    A pop-up menu appears, showing information about who created it, when it was last modified, and what type of map or layer it is:

    • The Web map containing variables icon Polygon layer indicates that this web map contains variables that you can use to create maps using the color-coded maps and smart map search workflows.
    • The Web map layer icon Point layer indicates that this web map contains layers that you can convert into sites.

  5. To add a web map or feature layer to your current project, hover over its thumbnail image and click Open. To add multiple content items, check the item check boxes and click Add selected.

    The selected web maps or layers are added to your project and opened on the map. The layers appear in the project pane in the Web maps and layers section or the Territories section (for territory layers). You can expand web maps to view the layers they contain and click the Action menu Options for additional actions.

  6. Click the Action menu Options for a layer. Choose from the following options:
    • Click Show attribute table to view the data in a table format. Hover over a row in the table and the corresponding area on the map is highlighted. Click Close Close to hide the table.
    • Click Filter by attributes to choose filtering criteria. Choose an attribute in the Select attribute drop-down menu. For the selected attribute, use the Select item to filter by drop-down menu to choose from suggested items or enter text to search for an item.

      The suggested items in the Select items to filter by drop-down menu display the first 15 records in the attribute table. Enter text in this field to search for other items in the table.

    • Click Setup layer to set up the layer for use in analysis and reports. See the Set up a layer section below for instructions.

Use variables from added layers

When you add a web map or territory layer that contains variables, you can use those variables in the color-coded maps and smart map search workflows. In the data browser, the variables for the layer are listed under Standard data > Map layers.

Click Map layers to view the available variables for the layers that are currently on the map.

Map layers option in the data browser

To use variables from a layer that is not on the map, you must set up the layer using custom data setup. The added data is available in the data browser under My data.

Set up a layer

You can use features from a web map or layer to define areas for analysis and reports without creating or saving any sites in the project. You must first set up the layer to use its features as sites in the current session. After setup, features from the layer can be used as sites in the current session and in the run reports, comparison reports, suitability analysis, and void analysis workflows. Features from the layer you set up are available on the From layers tab in the Add sites window within these workflows.

To set up a layer, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the project pane.
  2. Find the layer you want to set up. Expand a web map or territory to view the layers in it.
  3. Click Action menu Options on the point or polygon layer that you want to set up and click Setup layer.

    The Setup layer pane appears.

  4. Select items to set up. Use the check boxes to select or deselect items in the list of features.

    You can also use the following controls:

    • To name the features using a field, choose a field in the Use field as item name drop-down menu.
    • Click Prefilter candidates Filter to select the items in the layer by attributes.
    • For point layers, you can use the Create buffers around selected points option to modify the buffers to be applied around the selected points—the default is rings. You can create a maximum of 1,000 rings, drive times, and walk times at one time. If the layer has more than 1,000 points, you must filter or deselect some of them to proceed.
    • For polygon layers, you can set up a maximum of 5,000 features. If there are more than 5,000 polygons or standard geography boundaries, you must filter or deselect some of them to proceed. You cannot create buffers for a polygon layer.
  5. When you are finished, click Setup layer.

    For point layers, the setup is complete. For polygon layers, another Setup layer window appears.

  6. Select Polygon layer or Standard geography layer. Click OK.
  7. To complete the workflow, the following options are available:
    • Run infographics—Run infographics to visualize, analyze, and interact with key information about your sites.
    • Run reports—Run reports to visualize and analyze key information about your sites.
    • Run comparisons—Create comparison reports to analyze data comparing two or more sites.
    • Suitability analysis—Perform a suitability analysis using the layer you set up.
    • I'm done—Close the setup layer workflow.


No sites are created or saved in your project and the setup layers are only available in your current session. In a future session, you must set up the layer again.

To convert features from the layer into sites saved in your project, select the features and click Create site.

Set preferences

You can set preferences for Business Analyst Web App in the application preferences. You can specify preferences for the Web maps and layers window by adding another organization that will appear in the Choose source organization drop-down menu. 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 appears.

  2. Expand the Maps section, expand the Add data section, and click Web maps and layers.
  3. To add another organization to the Web maps and layers window, provide the URL for the organization in the Organization URL field. Optionally, in the Custom organization name field, provide a name for the organization.
  4. Click Add.

    The Added organization window appears. To edit the added organization, click Edit Edit. To remove the organization, click Remove Remove.

    You can restore the default settings by clicking 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