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Essential vocabulary


ArcGIS provides an online infrastructure for making maps and geographic information available throughout an organization, across a community, and openly on the web. By signing in to your ArcGIS organization, you can access ready-to-use maps and apps, or create new maps that help you tell a story. With ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can combine your business data with data from ArcGISto create rich maps that help you analyze your data visually and make better decisions. ArcGISalso makes it easy to share your maps and map layers within your organization or with colleagues in the field.

For more information, see ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint and ArcGIS.


A basemap provides a geographical context, or background, for the content you want to display in a map. With ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can choose from several Esri basemaps hosted on ArcGIS. These basemaps include many options that combine road, aerial, and topographic data with a variety of symbology. If your organization makes them available, you can also access basemaps in your ArcGIS organization.


Clustering in ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint refers to grouping point features within a certain distance of each other into one symbol. This is different from grouping in ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint where features are grouped by a user-specified category and styled accordingly. For more information, see Configure clustering.

Contents pane

The Contents pane is a central component of ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint. The Contents pane displays the list of layers contained in the map, provides the ability to toggle layer visibility, and provides a starting point for setting layer properties, such as styling, heat maps, transparency, visible range, clustering, and pop-ups.

Coordinate system

Coordinate systems provide a framework for defining real-world locations.

WGS84 is a geographic coordinate system in which every location on the earth is specified by a set of numbers (coordinates). Coordinates are often expressed as latitude and longitude values. Web Mercator is a projected coordinate system in which locations are identified by x,y coordinates on a grid, with the origin at the center of the grid. Coordinate values in the Web Mercator system generally have 6, 7, or 8 digits to the left of the decimal, and the units are meters. If you are unsure as to which coordinate system you should use, contact the originator of your data or the person who collected it.


A set of values represented by the letters x and y that define a position within a spatial reference. Coordinates are used to represent locations in space relative to other locations. Coordinates are often shown in latitude-longitude pairs, where x coordinates range from -180 to 180 and y coordinates range from -90 to 90, or as values with 6, 7, or 8 digits to the left of the decimal point. When using ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, these value pairs are often composed of the values from two columns in your data.


Geographic features are representations of things located on or near the surface of the earth. Geographic features can occur naturally (such as rivers and vegetation), can be constructions (such as roads, pipelines, wells, and buildings), and can be subdivisions of land (such as counties, political divisions, and land parcels). Geographic features are most commonly represented as points, lines, or polygons. In ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, data you have added is often referred to as features on the map.

Feature service

A feature service is a collection of geographic features. Each feature in the collection has a location, set of properties, map symbology, and pop-up. In ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can search for feature services in ArcGIS and add them to your map. When you add a feature service to your map, it becomes one or more layers in the map.


Grouping in ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint is the process of placing features in user-specified categories and styling them accordingly. See Feature display and style for more information.

Heat map

A heat map represents the geographic density of point features on a map by using colored areas to represent those points. The areas are largest where the most points are concentrated together. See Add a heat map for more information.


A layer is the way in which ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint visually represents geographic datasets. A layer can be thought of as similar to a legend item on a paper map. On a road map, for example, roads, national parks, political boundaries, and rivers might be considered different layers. When you add SharePoint data to a map, ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint creates a layer and displays it on the Contents pane. Once the layer is created, functionality such as determining visibility, configuring style, and setting transparency are all enabled.


Lines represent the shape and location of geographic objects too narrow to depict as areas (such as street centerlines and streams).


A map displays geographic data and allows you to explore and interact with that data. In ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can add SharePoint data directly to the map and combine it with additional content from ArcGIS Online.

Map service

A map service is a prestyled collection of map cartography organized by location and scale. In ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can search for map services in ArcGIS and add them to your map. When you add a map service to your map, it becomes one or more layers in the map.

Pan (the map display)

Shift a map image relative to the display window without changing the viewing scale. Panning a map can also be thought of as moving the map image in the display window so you can see different parts of the map.


Points represent discrete locations of geographic features too small to be depicted as lines or areas, such as well locations, telephone poles, and stream gauges. Points can also represent address locations, Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, or mountain peaks.


Polygons are enclosed areas (many-sided figures) that represent the shape and location of homogeneous features such as states, counties, parcels, and land-use zones. Polygons are often called areas.

Web map

An ArcGIS web map is an interactive display of geographic information that you can use to tell a story and answer questions. For example, you can create a map that addresses the question, 'How many people in the United States live within a reasonable walk or drive to a supermarket?' The map could contain layers showing neighborhoods within a 10-minute drive or 1-mile walk to a supermarket, and for context, a topographic basemap that includes cities, roads, and buildings overlaid on land cover and shaded-relief imagery. In ArcGIS Maps for SharePoint, you can search for web maps in ArcGIS and add them to your map. When the web map is added to your map, the individual layers in the web map become layers in your map.