Kyle Wikstrom
Kyle Wikstrom, GIS Solutions Specialist

Welcome to my summary and key takeaways from the Chapter 2 of The ArcGIS Book! Read about this blog series in my previous post. See my breakdown of Chapter 1 here.

Maps are how GIS users convey their work. Maps are analytical and artistic. They offer map readers the ability to understand and see our world and interpret the patterns that are found within it. While traditional printed maps will continue to organize and communicate large amounts of information, online maps can be shared with virtually anyone at any place at any time on our mobile devices. People have learned how to work with maps through online technology, and their design and purpose is critical to the user experience.

Maps tell stories, and geo apps offer the user experience for working with maps. A web maps contains three basic things: (1) a reference basemap, (2) additional data layers, and (3) tools that interact with these layers. Tools can do simple tasks like displaying a feature pop-up all the way to complex functions like performing spatial analysis. Tools support what you want users to do with the web map. Web GIS is deployed through web maps.

5 Steps to Web Map

  1. Choose a basemap and locate your area of interest.
  2. Add your layers and configure their styles.
  3. Create pop-ups to display feature information.
  4. Save your map and make it look pretty. The prettiest web maps have noticeable and appealing thumbnail graphic, a good item description, and a name.
  5. Share your map using a geo app that will suit your audience and purpose.

Smart Mapping

Smart mapping lets users create compelling maps using geographic information with even only minimal knowledge of mapping or software. It can help to create visually appealing and effective maps quickly based on the nature of your data. This helps users work smarter when considering aspects such as style, color, scale, etc., without taking away the user’s control. Default capabilities can be extended by the map author who wishes to create uniquely tailored maps.

Great maps are clear from the start. They stir our curiosity to explore the thing we’re observing and to know why. By having the end goal in mind, you can work backwards to create the map you want to share. Eliminate noise in your map and focus on what is the most important part of your map.

Hands-On Map Design

Follow along with Jim Herries’ video, “Making a great web map with ArcGIS Online,” to get some extra hands-on experience. Herries is an applied geographer with Esri in Redlands, California. I created a Story Map, “Minnesota Election 2012.” This map displays 2012 presidential election results by precinct in the state of Minnesota.

  mn election 2012

mn election 2012 1Bonus: Change the color of the pop-up column chart by using ArcGIS Online Asssistant to edit the JSON configuration.





Where to Look for Ideas

Check out Esri’s Maps We Love page to learn what you can do with ArcGIS Online. Get ideas on how to turn your geographic data into compelling web maps and learn from experts just how this is done.


What is the topic? Rainforest deforestation in Brazil

What is the result?

What do you need? ArcMap

Accept the challenge to complete this lesson using ArcGIS Pro? There are a few things you should know.

  1. Instead of creating a layer from selected features, add the Roads layer twice and add a definition query to filter Official Roads on one of them.
  2. Locate the layout by browsing to the .mxt in the file explorer.
  3. No apparent setting to scale map elements to adjust to page setup and settings. I simply kept the default layout size.
  4. Application can fail when adding World Physical Map to the inset frame. Instead, try creating a second map with this layer and point the inset frame at that map.
  5. Unable to copy and modify a map’s coordinate system to center the view on Rondonia. Created a 3d scene instead.
  6. Extent indicators are only supported for 2d maps, and not 3d scenes. To indicate the location of Rondonia in the 3d inset map, I added the Amazon Ecoregion and Brazilian States layers, and emphasized the Rondonia feature.
  7. Background colors of 3d scenes remain the same.

While I was unable to make some of these changes, I want to hear if any of you know of ways to do achieve these items or possible workarounds. Perhaps the next book to review should be “Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro“!

What technical skills can you expect to learn?

  • Add ArcGIS Online layer to ArcMap
  • Add local layers to ArcMap
  • Add basemap
  • Identify and Find
  • Ungroup layers
  • Symbolize features by quantity using graduated symbols
  • Navigate the Catalog window
  • Set default geodatabase
  • Open attribute table
  • Select features by attribute
  • Create layer from selected features
  • Rename layer
  • Change layer transparency
  • Change layer symbols
  • Create bookmarks
  • Buffer analysis
  • Clip analysis
  • View source spatial reference
  • Open attribute table
  • Add attribute field
  • Calculate percent using field calculator
  • Remove layer
  • Add raster layer
  • Create a new feature class
  • Create line features
  • Trace new line features
  • Save edits
  • Edit attribute tables
  • Search for tools
  • Erase analysis
  • Import layout
  • Create legend
  • Create text box
  • Create scale bar
  • Create title
  • Configure graphics
  • Create inset map
  • Modify a coordinate system
  • Insert extent indicator
  • Update data frame properties
  • Export map


Harrower, Mark, and Clint Brown. “Cartography is for Everyone.”The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying Geography to Your World. Ed. Christian Harder. Redlands: Esri Press, 2015. 18-34. Print.

This article was originally published here on LinkedIn.

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Visit Pro-West’s ArcGIS Online app gallery

Read the other blogs in this series:

Blog: The ArcGIS Book, Chapter 1: Maps, the Web, and You

Blog: The ArcGIS Book, Chapter 3: Tell Your Story Using a Map

Need help creating ArcGIS solutions?

Contact Kyle Wikstrom, Pro-West Solutions Specialist, by email or on 320.207.6868.