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ArcGIS Online Terminology Overview Part 1

Have you ever searched for a place where you can find important ArcGIS Online terminology in one easy to understand format? Look no further! This blog will cover key vocabulary to help support your knowledge.

When working with ArcGIS Online there are a variety of concepts to understand. This blog is a curation of these concepts to reinforce this knowledge for both new and experienced users. We will begin with items related to an ArcGIS Online organization, followed by layer types and items that can exist within ArcGIS Online.  

Organization Terms

Public Account: ArcGIS Online is available for individual use through a free public account. This allows you to create, store, and manage maps, apps, and data.

  • You can also create a public account using social logins such as Facebook and Google. 

Organization Member: With a subscription to ArcGIS Online, organizations can manage all of their geographic content in a secure, cloud-based Esri environment. Members of the organization can use maps to explore data, create and share maps and apps, and publish their data as hosted web layers.  

  • Administrators customize the website, invite, and add members to the organization, and manage resources. account:  This is the account that allows organizations to manage software purchases, downloads, access virtual training, log support requests and monitor defects. Anyone who purchases any Esri product will be given a MyEsri account. 

User type: The organization administrator assigns a user type to a member when they’re added to the organization. User types are related to the license assigned to the member, and they control the scope of privileges that can be assigned through a role.  

Role: These are set by the admin of the organization, it gives members of an organization privileges such as editing, publishing, sharing, and administering. Default roles are:

  • Viewer
  • User
  • Publisher
  • Administrator

Privileges: These are granted to members through roles. They allow members to perform various tasks and workflows within an organization. 

Credits: Credits are the currency used across ArcGIS and are consumed for specific transactions and types of storage, such as storing features, performing analytics, and using premium content.  

  • Any ArcGIS software that interacts with ArcGIS Online, such as ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Insights, or ArcGIS Field Maps, can use credits. 

Group: Groups allow users share content with specific users, either inside their organization or in another ArcGIS online organization. 

Important Items & Types of Hosted Layers 

Hosted Feature Layer: This is spatial data published to ArcGIS Online. They support functions such as querying and editing. In web apps, hosted feature layers are drawn by the browser and support interactive highlighting, queries, and pop-ups. 

  • You can publish all the following hosted layers from a primary hosted feature layer:
    • Feature layer view
    • Tile layer
    • Vector tile layer
    • OGC feature layer
    • WFS layer
    • Scene layer

Feature Layer View: A layer that shares the same source data as a hosted feature service but allows for more limitations on how it is being accessed, such as filters. 

OGC: Open Geospatial Consortium is an organization whose process creates royalty free, publicly available, open geospatial standards. You can read more about it here

Tile layers: Are a collection of pre-loaded map images (or tiles) that support fast map visualization. Once your data is uploaded, tiles are generated and stored in ArcGIS Online.

Vector tile layer 

Web Map Tile Service (WMTS) layers 

References a set of web-accessible tiles containing 2D and 3D content and the style for how those tiles should be drawn.  

These are similar web tile layers only the data is depicted as a vector instead of a raster. 

OGC-compliant views of hosted tile layers. All hosted tile layers on ArcGIS Online that are shared with the public can be accessed using the OGC WMTS protocol.  

The publisher of the hosted tile layer does not have to perform any special operations to enable WMTS. 

Scene layers: Support fast map visualization of 3D data using a collection of cached tiles as well as an associated hosted feature layer.  

  • The tiles and feature layers are created when you publish 3D data from ArcGIS Pro, or you can publish a scene layer from an existing hosted feature layer in ArcGIS Online. 

Imagery layers: These are image services which are hosted in ArcGIS Online. They support many raster types and image products so you can create, share, and analyze your remote sensing imagery and raster data. 

  • There are two different types of imagery layers, Dynamic and Tiled Imagery layers, read more about them here.

  • Elevation layers: Are a type of imagery layer that provides customized elevation surfaces in your scenes to provide heights for the 3D layers in your scenes.

This concludes part 1 of our ArcGIS Online terminology review, if you have more questions I recommend taking a look at the ArcGIS Online FAQ as a starting point. Stay tuned for part 2, which will cover some valuable explanations to help you better understand our web maps and applications! 

About the Author

Ashley Ford is an Associate GIS Analyst with Esri Canada’s Ontario Region. She focuses on demonstrating the art of the possible to clients within the province. Ashley has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and completed the GIS Applications Specialist graduate program at Fleming College.

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