Make maps

Explorer is a map viewing app that does not contain an authoring experience. However, you can create maps with your data to use in the app. Explorer opens both web maps and mobile map packages (MMPKs). The type you create depends on the needs of your mobile workers:

  • If your mobile workers always have a data connection, even out in the field, provide a web map. When used with a data connection, web maps allow your mobile workers to access the same data used in the office. If you use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise to create maps, you know how to make web maps for use in Explorer—the maps are made the same way.
  • If your mobile workers need to be able to work with your map in areas without a reliable data connection, or with no data connection at all, make sure they have a map that works offline. This can be a web map that's configured for download or an MMPK. Your mobile workers download maps to make them available without a data connection. Once maps are downloaded, mobile workers can use them the same way as an online map.

Your user type limits the maps you can create. Creators and GIS Professionals can create web maps. Creating MMPKs requires ArcGIS Pro, which is included with the GIS Professional user type.

In this topic, you'll learn how to make web maps, focusing on online use. To customize web maps for download or to make MMPKs, see Prepare maps to download.

Create a web map


If your mobile workers work without a data connection, you may not need to create a web map. See Prepare maps to download for more information.

You can work with the same maps in Explorer as you do in a browser. Create your map in Map Viewer or ArcGIS Pro using your ArcGIS account. If you haven't made a map for the web yet, see one of the following resources:

Data requirements

To include your data in a map, it must be available online. To make it available online, publish your data as hosted feature layers or as an ArcGIS Server service. See Publish hosted feature layers in ArcGIS Online, Publish hosted feature layers in ArcGIS Enterprise, or About publishing services for ArcGIS Server. When you create a map that includes your layer or service, the map can be opened with Explorer.


The following tips will help you make better online maps:

  • Support feature search—By default, maps allow you to search for places, addresses, and coordinates. Often, users of your map want to search for particular features they see on the map. When you create the map, enable finding locations by layer so your users can search for features. Provide hint text, enable search for each searchable layer, and specify the fields that can be searched.

    For example, if you are making a map of fire hydrants and your users want to search for hydrants by their IDs, include a fire hydrant layer in the map that contains the IDs. In the map's details in the browser, provide hint text, such as Hydrant ID and specify that the hydrant layer should be searched using the field with the IDs. You can support exact matches, or match all hydrants with IDs containing the search string your user entered.

    See Configure feature search in ArcGIS Online or Configure feature search in ArcGIS Enterprise for details.

  • 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, configure a pop-up with information users need. See Configure pop-ups in ArcGIS Online or Configure pop-ups in ArcGIS Enterprise for details. You must accept your pop-up changes and save your map after editing the pop-up.

    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 these available to them by configuring labels for the feature layers. See Create labels in ArcGIS Online or Create labels in ArcGIS Enterprise for details.

    You can also set up labels in your data in ArcGIS Desktop before you publish the layer. See Labeling basics in the ArcGIS Pro help.

  • Provide bookmarks—If there are areas commonly accessed by mobile users, create bookmarks they can use to quickly go to those locations. See Bookmark places in ArcGIS Online or Bookmark places in ArcGIS Online.

    Bookmarks can also be used to define offline map areas on the device.


The following are limitations when creating web maps for use in Explorer:

  • Unsupported basemaps and layers—Not all basemaps and layers work on a mobile device. The following are not supported in Explorer:
    • Bing basemaps (not supported on Android)
    • CSV layers through a URL
    • GeoRSS layers
    • KML layers¹
    • KMZ layers
    • Stream service layers
    • Time-aware layers (You can include them in your maps, but you won't have access to the time properties.)
    • WFS layers
    • WMS layers¹ (not supported on Android or iOS)

    ¹Online use only.

  • Only secure layers and services using token, basic/digest HTTP, or Windows authentication security are supported.

Share your map

Once you've created a web map, you can keep it private, share it among your groups or to your organization, or make it public. See Share items in ArcGIS Online or Share items in ArcGIS Enterprise.