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Make online 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 always have a data connection, even out in the field, provide online maps for them. Working connected, your users work with data as accurate as that you are using in the office. If you already use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, you already know how to make online maps for use in Explorer. The same way you've made maps for use in your portal is how you'll make them for use in the app.


If your users work in areas with intermittent, low, or no connectivity, see Make offline maps. Offline maps are made in ArcGIS Pro by creating a mobile map package (MMPK), and they can be used without a data connection.

Make an online map

You can work with the same maps in Explorer that you work with in a browser. Create your map in Map Viewer using your ArcGIS account. If you haven't made a map for the web yet, see Get started with maps (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise), or follow the Get started with Map Viewer lesson.

To include your data in a map, it needs to 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 (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise) or About publishing services (ArcGIS Server). When you create a map that includes your layer or service, the map can be opened with Explorer.

Share your map

Once you've made a map, you can keep it private for your own use, share it among your groups or to your organization, or make it public. See Share items (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise).


The following tips will help you make better online maps:

  • Support feature search—By default, maps include the ability to search for places, addresses, and coordinates. Often, users of a map want to search for particular features they see on the map. When you author the map, enable finding locations by layer so that your users can search for features. You need to 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 the 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 where the ID contains the search string your user entered. For details, see Configure feature search (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise).
  • 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 (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise) for details. You'll need to make sure you 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 this available to them by configuring labels for the feature layers. See Create labels (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise) for details.

    You can also set up labels in your data in ArcGIS Desktop before you publish the layer. Labels configured in ArcGIS Desktop are only supported on map services. See Labeling basics in the ArcGIS Pro help.


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

  • Unsupported basemaps and layers—Not all of the basemaps and layers you can add to your map work on a mobile device. The following are not supported on iPad, iPhone, or Android devices:
    • Bing basemaps (not supported on Android)
    • CSV layers through a URL
    • GeoRSS layers
    • KML layers
    • KMZ layers
    • Stream service layers
    • Time-aware layers (While you can include them in your maps, you won't have access to the time properties.)
    • WFS layers
    • WMS layers
  • Secure layers and services using token, basic/digest HTTP, or Windows authentication security are supported.
  • Arcade expressions in pop-ups—While Arcade expressions are supported in labels in Explorer, they are not supported in pop-ups. Support is planned for a later release.