Essential vocabulary


The brand name for Esri GIS products. 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 maps that help you tell a story. With ArcGIS for SharePoint, you can combine your business data with data from ArcGIS to create rich maps that help you analyze data visually and make better decisions. ArcGIS also allows you to share maps and map layers within your organization or with colleagues in the field.

For more information, visit ArcGIS for SharePoint and ArcGIS.


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


The function of organizing point features that are within a certain distance of each other into a single symbol to allow you to view and understand a map containing many data points. This is different from grouping, in which features are grouped by a user-specified category and styled accordingly. For more information, see Enable and configure clustering.

Coordinate system

A reference framework that consists of points, lines, or surfaces, and a set of rules used to define real-world locations. ArcGIS for SharePoint uses two primary coordinate systems:

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 the 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, in which 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 for SharePoint, these value pairs are often composed of the values from a single column or two columns in the 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 boundaries, and land parcels). Geographic features are most commonly represented as points, lines, or polygons. In ArcGIS for SharePoint, data you have added is often referred to as features on the map.

Feature service

A data hosting endpoint that provides access to a collection of geographic features. Each feature in the collection has a location, a set of properties, map symbology, and a pop-up. You can search for feature services in ArcGIS and add them to a map. When you add a feature service to a map, it becomes one or more layers in the map.


The process of placing features in user-specified categories and styling them accordingly.

Heat map

Represents the geographic density of point features on a map through color and style to highlight where data point density is high or low. Areas where colors are the most intense indicate the highest point density. When a map contains too many points to interpret patterns or make sense of the information, consider using a heat map. See Style location for more information.


A method of visually representing geographic data. A map can contain multiple layers, and each layer is rendered as one legend item on that map. On a road map, for example, roads, national parks, cities, and rivers may each be considered a different layer. When you add Microsoft SharePoint data to a map, ArcGIS for SharePoint creates a layer for that data and displays it on the map's layer list. Once the layer is created, you can work with the layer to style it, set visibility, and use other functions.

Layers list

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


A type of feature geometry containing ordered point coordinates and a spatial reference. Each point on a line can be expressed as an x,y coordinate, a z-value for elevation, and an optional m-value for linear referencing.


A collection of layers that displays geographic data and is used to explore and interact with that data. In ArcGIS for SharePoint, you can add Microsoft SharePoint data directly to the map and combine it with additional content from ArcGIS Online.

Map service

A data hosting endpoint that provides prestyled collections of map cartography organized by location and scale. In ArcGIS for SharePoint, you can search for map services in ArcGIS and add their contents to a map. When you add map service content to a map, it becomes one or more layers in the map.

Pan (the map display)

The function of shifting, or scrolling, 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 any direction across the surface of the display window so you can see the different regions of a map.


A type of geometry that represents discrete locations of geographic features, such as well locations, telephone poles, and stream gauges. Points contain a single set of x,y coordinates and a spatial reference, and they are often expressed in longitude (x) and latitude (y) values. They can also have an optional z-value for elevation and an m-value for linear referencing. Points can also represent address locations, GPS coordinates, or mountain peaks.


Geometric 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. Each polygon is composed of a series of x,y coordinates, or points, and a spatial reference, as well as an optional z-value that defines each x,y coordinate's elevation and an m-value for linear referencing. These define the precise location (latitude and longitude of the polygon's boundary).

Web map

A digital map file that contains a map's layers, styles, and related data. You can search for a web map in ArcGIS and add it to a map. When a web map is added to a map, the individual layers in the web map become layers in the map.