Use Locator Views to customize your ArcGIS Online geocoding experience

September 24, 2020 Shannon Cox

Although the Esri World Geocoding service does a great job at locating addresses around the world, sometimes you want a customized geocoding or geosearch experience. Leverage Locator Views to customize your search results to narrow down the locations that are important to you.

Locator Views allows you to take your mapping experience to the next level. In addition to creating Hosted Feature Layer Views, your Geosearch and Geocoding experience can be configured with a customized Locator View. Get the results you want without having to sift through irrelevant items.

Geosearch or location search, refers to searching an address or the name of a point of interest and returning the results on your map. Geocoding refers to converting an address or place name to a set of XY coordinates that are appended to the relevant records in your table.  

By default, the Esri World Geocoding service will return addresses and place names across the globe. Depending on your project, you may have a very particular need for the format and extent of your geocoding and geosearch results. You can customize your locator to only return locations that meets your needs in your app.

When you conduct a Geosearch in your web map, web mapping application or a mobile app such as ArcGIS Explorer, the settings you have configured in your Locator View will be honoured. The example below (searching for the address 1130 Pender) compares the results of the default Esri Geocoding Search (top) with the results from a Locator View configured to search in Canada only (bottom).

How do you create a Locator View?

From your ArcGIS Online My Content page, select Create - Locator (view). Provide a title, tags and summary and hit OK. You will then be directed to the settings page of your new Locator View to begin configuring your view.

Once your Locator View has been configured, share the item with your organization to make it available to all members. Finally, configure your organization’s Utility services settings to add this Locator View alongside the default Esri World Geocoding service.  Use the toggles next to the locators to determine the order each locator will be displayed in the list.

Your Locator View is now ready to use!

What kind of customizations can be made to the Locator View?

What types of locations do you want to find?

Geocoding and geosearch can return three kinds of locations:

  • Addresses, Postal Codes and Populated Places (764 Main Street, Regina, SK)
  • XY Coordinates or Latitude and Longitude (49.533, -180.348)
  • Places of Interest (Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium)

If you want your geosearch to only return precise addresses, for instance, rather than simply the neighborhood or city name, this can be refined. Or perhaps you only want to return Postal Codes for more broad locations. This can all be customized. This image (below) lists all the potential configurations. Take a look at this document for more information on these options.

Where do you want to search for locations?

Your Locator View can be customized to isolate your Geosearch to a specific area of the world, whether that be a particular country or region, or a pre-defined XY extent.

Maybe your web mapping application is particular to Canadian users, so you may want your geosearch to exclude locations in the USA or elsewhere in the world. Set your Locator View to only search within Canada.

Where do you prefer locations to be displayed?

Where would you like your search result to be dropped on the map? By default, the map will zoom and drop a pin on the rooftop of the building or centroid of the parcel at the designated address.  Alternatively, if you are creating a map for routing driving or walking directions, you can configure the search result to place a pin on the side of the street in front of the building.

In the example below, the Left image shows a centroid or rooftop configuration, whereas the Right image depicts the address location on the street front.

What default city name should be returned by the locator?

Many cities may have multiple names, including the name based on local knowledge, the city name dictated by the post office or the name defined at the country level. Choose which city name should take priority.

What default street name should be returned by the locator?

Like the previous setting, streets may have multiple names. Make a selection to return results that list the street name as defined by the country, the street name that matches the search exactly or the primary street name.

For instance, there may be a highway that spans the entire province (Highway 1). When the highway goes through a town, it may have an alias, such as Main Street or have an additional local name. The geosearch can be configured to prioritize one of these naming conventions.

How can I gain access to this functionality?

To begin, ensure that you are logged into your ArcGIS Online organization and that your account has the privileges to create content. Users, Publishers and Administrators should have these permissions by default – Learn more about user roles here

If you are configuring a Locator View on your own address locator service, rather than the Esri Geocoding Service, there are a few additional considerations. Customized Locator Views are supported with ArcGIS Server 10.0 and later for geosearch, and ArcGIS Server 10.1 and later for batch geocoding.

Read more about these considerations here.

To learn more about creating and customizing Locator Views, please visit the Esri help documentation

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Shannon Cox

Shannon Cox is a Desktop Support Analyst on the Esri Canada Desktop Support team. She has over six years of experience with Esri software. Shannon is a graduate of Trent University and the British Columbia of Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physical Geography and an Advanced Diploma in GIS, respectively. Prior to Esri Canada, Shannon’s experience included GIS applications in the field of physical geography (mapping glaciation, modelling hydrology networks), addressing (manual geocoding), road network editing, and air photo georeferencing. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys working on digital volunteer mapping during international emergencies, doing yoga, meditating, reading, and drinking local craft beer.

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