Turn Your Maps Around With Map Viewer & Experience Builder

Here at GEO Jobe, we take on a wide variety of projects. Recently while I have been working on projects creating web maps, apps, and environment migrations, some things have come up that I think are worth addressing. Back in the day, using Map Viewer Classic and creating an application using ArcGIS Web AppBuilder was the only way to create interactive web maps/apps. With the changes to Map Viewer released in 2020, which works seamlessly with ArcGIS Experience Builder, it has become a game-changer for visualizing your data and building web maps! 

Making the Switch

Esri first introduced ArcGIS Experience Builder in 2019, although it didn’t come out of beta until February of 2020. If you are new to Experience Builder and would like to know more, check out Courtney Menikheim’s article giving the rundown on the application, Beginners Guide to ArcGIS Experience Builder. Esri then introduced the new Map Viewer, which came out for general use in April 2021! These applications, when used together, have helped resolve issues I have encountered when creating web maps/apps for various clients.

Grouping Layers

While helping a client recently with a service migration from a hosting server to ArcGIS Online, they had group layers set up for some of their layers being utilized in a variety of maps. Having layers grouped within the table of content is a particular method they liked for organizing their data, but ArcGIS Online doesn’t support grouped layers when publishing as a feature service. If you try to publish from ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro, the group layers are omitted and you are left with several standalone layers. In this case, the client had web applications set up with widgets that management were accustomed to viewing the data in a grouped structure. They wanted their data to stay in groups but still needed web applications with the widgets for management use. 

After looking for a resolution to this issue, it turned out that Map Viewer supported the creation of group layers. I ended up creating a map in the Map Viewer and grouping the layers in a way that aligned with what they were looking for. I then used Experience Builder for the web application, which maintained the group layers. If you use group layers in your map, it is worth noting that they are not backwards compatible with all web applications. Web AppBuilder is one use case where using a map with group layers will see the group layers omitted, though it will still allow you to use your map in a web app. So for this client, all web maps/apps with grouped layers were recreated using Map Viewer and Experience Builder. For more information about using group layers in ArcGIS Online, check out this article by Michelle Brake, Get Your Ducks in a Row with Group Layers.

Example of Map Viewer and the group layer option.

Images & Pop-ups

Another configuration request we commonly see is the need to display field-collected images in pop-ups. In Map Viewer Classic, I would have to write an arcade expression to get images to appear in custom pop-ups. For those who have done this, you’ll know that you have to add fields and use the calculate part to write an arcade expression to customize your pop-up on the map. Then writing another arcade expression just to get an image to display in your custom pop-up. This ends up being a little time-consuming and not very efficient in the long run. In Map Viewer, you can go to properties of the layer then navigate to configure pop-ups on the left. There you can now add attachments that appear in your pop-up without writing a single arcade expression!!! This is something a lot of us have been waiting for and will save us time during configuration! 

The top left is an example of Map Viewer, and the bottom right is an example of Experience Builder.

Again, if you create your pop-ups in Map Viewer, you can’t use Web AppBuilder when creating your web application as it will not display your image. If you plan to use Web AppBuilder for your application, you will have to go the route of customizing your pop-up using an Arcade Expression.

Widgets

For the widgets in Experience Builder, the ability to drag and drop them into the application frame is an excellent addition. When a client recently went from Web AppBuilder to Experience Builder with several of their applications, they loved it! The only catch is that some widgets are not yet available in Experience Builder. After customizing the application for a client, we discovered that the print widget was missing. If printing is an essential part of your day-to-day workflows, Web AppBuilder will be your go-to application until the print widget is incorporated. It is on ESRI’s 2021 roadmap but until then, we’ll patiently await the release by exploring other widgets!

Esri Experience Builder roadmap (Image source).

Looking to the Future

If you are interested in creating new exciting interactive maps and apps, consider integrating Map Viewer and Experience Builder in your workflows. Overall, it can be less coding and a seamless way to get your data into your users’ hands. Using these two pieces together has helped us meet our client’s needs here at GEO Jobe. Added below are ESRI’s roadmaps for Map Viewer and Experience Builder. There are many exciting things to look forward to and why you should look into making the switch! 

Esri’s Map Viewer roadmap (image source).

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Solution Engineer