Take Arcade for a Test Drive

Whether you’re a cartographer, a developer, or an analyst – learning ArcGIS Arcade will take your maps to the next level. No, not the type of arcade with Tekken and Pac-Man (although we love those too). Arcade is a custom expression language developed by Esri. Read on to learn more about what it is and what you can do with it.

What is Arcade?

Have you ever wanted to customize how elements in your maps appear based on the data in the layers? Have you ever gotten deep into setting up a map only to realize that field you needed, that was an average of two others, isn’t in the data? Fear not! Arcade is a simple-yet-powerful expression scripting language that allows you to customize the appearance and behavior of your maps based on simple calculations or complex equations. Plus, it works on the fly! Check out this story map from Esri to learn more.

Story Map by Esri

What Makes Arcade so Cool?

Arcade is a great way to quickly evaluate expressions and apply unique settings that take your map to the next level. Even our friends at Datastory have good things to say about the expression language.

“Arcade has enabled our team to bring data to life in a richer way. Our clients can now see their data through a more clarified lens, leading to smarter, faster decisions.”

– Leif Johnson, GIS Specialist

Why are people so excited about this new language? Esri designed Arcade from the ground up. That means there are a number of important factors that are part of it’s foundation.

  • Arcade has a lightweight and simple syntax. This makes it user-friendly and easy to learn, even without a background in computer programming.
  • Arcade works with geospatial data. Since Esri designed the expression language, they can build functionality specific to GIS applications, including geospatial calculations.
  • Arcade is secure. Esri built Arcade for a specific purpose. Therefore, it can’t have malicious code entered to violate the intended functionality of the language.
  • Arcade work across the ArcGIS platform. The same syntax and rules will apply in desktop, web, and mobile environments. This means users don’t have to create multiple sets of rules to get their maps to behave the same way in different environments or with different products.
    Note: Check the Version Matrix to see which functions are supported in which version of Arcade, as new functionality is not always added for every product at the same time.

Furthermore, Arcade offers some pretty cool functionality. The ability to share expressions, create data-driven visualizations, and even customize popups to be more recognizable for your users. These are just some of the things you can do with Arcade.

Getting Started with Arcade

If you’re interested in getting started with ArcGIS Arcade, a good place to begin is Esri’s Hello World tutorial. After that, explore Arcade’s documentation, experiment with functions in the playground, or join a group focused on the expression language. Esri publishes articles on new capabilities regularly, like this one on working with feature sets. For more ideas, check out this article from Bern Szukalski.

If you’re going to Esri’s DevSummit, be sure to check out some of the Arcade sessions!

What’s your favorite thing to do with Arcade? Got any tips or tricks to share? Let us know @GeoJobeGIS!

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Photo of Courtney Menikheim. They are about 5 foot 7, have hair cropped close to their head, except for the top, which hangs over by their jawline. They are smiling at the camera. They wear glasses.

Application Developer

Courtney is an enthusiastic GEODev and member of our Products team. When they aren't helping design and build software, Courtney enjoys playing board games, spending time with their dogs, and gardening.