Esri releases ArcGIS Online, Mostly a Collaboration Tool

Esri released an online version of ArcGIS today, aptly named ArcGIS Online.  From their Help page:

ArcGIS Online is a complete, cloud-based, collaborative content management system that lets organizations manage their geographic information in a secure and configurable environment.

The basic principle behind ArcGIS is to build Web Maps for quick and easy sharing over any web browser.  It is unquestionably geared towards online collaboration, as it is missing many of the tools from the ArcGIS PC application but has multiple options for adding users to your “organization”, as well as being able to share content over the web easily.  It also works on mobile devices, so it’s quick and painless to send that new map to the field technician to view on their tablet – a simple URL is all that is required.  For advanced functionality, it’s possible to import data such as shape files and CSV entries to bring the PC information over to the online version once they’ve been made.

A “natural gas pipeline” made using the ArcGIS Online interface. This map can be easily shared over any web browser at this point.

The “Share” panel lets the user define who in the organization can see the map, as well as publishing it publicly. It also has a direct URL option for sending to individuals.


While it’s unsurprising that the entire suite of tools for ArcGIS is not included, it begs the question – why not?  They offer a subscription service available for online storage (in case you really REALLY need to upload that 500mb topo Tif file) which could easily be leveraged into a pay-per-use subscription option – if a user doesn’t need ArcGIS all the time, they’re going to be far more likely to use a fully-featured subscription-based service when they need it rather than look for free or “reduced rate” (read:torrents) to serve their needs.

More information as well as a sign-up for ArcGIS Online is available here.

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