ArcGIS Administration: Seven Often-Overlooked Things You’re Doing Right, Or Need to Address Right Now

ArcGIS Administration can frequently be challenging, as there are so many moving parts to be aware of. There’s items, users, groups, networks, security, projects, workflows, scripts, standards, branding, resources, and anything else under the sun that’s assigned to be within the ArcGIS Administrator’s scope of responsibility or awareness.

At any point, some issue or failure can wreak havoc on the data or productivity of an entire ArcGIS Online Organization or Portal, resulting in some awkward conversations or emails. Here are seven things that can easily get overlooked and become a problem. Look these over, and see how many of these you’re handling well, or need to add to your to-do list:

1) Symbology and Popups

GOOD: The symbology and popup settings across all related web maps are consistent in your Organization.

NOT SO GOOD: Each web map a user accesses looks wildly different for the same layers being utilized.

Symbology is essential for making your data informative, easy to understand, and even elegant. If viewers have to re-learn what to look for every time they open different web maps with similar layers, this can become frustrating and lead to a poor overall user experience. In many cases, related web maps should share a common look to their symbology and relevant popups.

The Solution, Simplified: In Admin Tools’ Pro and Portal versions, the Copy Symbology tool lets you select the web maps with layers you want to copy the symbology and popups from, and apply them to the layers in the web maps you want. If you want to see this tool in action and how it works, check out this video:

Bonus Tip, when setting up symbology for your web maps, please keep those with common color-blindness types in mind. A great resource from Esri on web accessibility best practices can be found HERE.

2)  Active Users and Content

GOOD: All your users and items are active and relevant to your Organization.

NOT SO GOOD: You have items and users that haven’t been accessed in months or even YEARS.

There’s a lot of testing, tweaking, and eleventh-hour projects that go into an ArcGIS Organization. Over time, users will come and go for any number of reasons, with or without notice. We understand that random items and users will creep into your organization, and that needs to be cleaned up… one day.

Let’s face it: “One day” usually happens when a critical all-hands meeting is scheduled to “address the storage and resources for ArcGIS Online or Portal.” Don’t wait for that to happen! Act sooner, rather than later.

The Solution, Simplified: Clean My Org has the capability of scanning your Organization for items that haven’t been accessed and users that have not logged in a configurable amount of time, or for users that have been disabled.

3) How Items Are Consumed/Utilized Across ArcGIS

GOOD: You know exactly how your feature services and web maps are being utilized across all your organization’s content. 

NOT SO GOOD: You have no simple or reasonable way to determine the Organization-wide consequences of getting rid of any particular feature service.

If you ever wanted to test both Murphy’s Law and the Butterfly Effect at the same time, try deleting a feature service that you think is only being utilized by a single web map, and see how many emails and calls you get from users elsewhere in your Organization. To avoid this situation, and save your inbox, you’ll need to understand the item dependencies of all the content in your ArcGIS Organization has.

The Solution, Simplified: Admin Tools Pro and Portal allows for checking how items are utilized with View Items Dependencies which reports a list of dependencies to any item, and the Export Web Maps by Service URL (CSV) that you can use to generate a report of any web maps that uses a specific service URL (even allowing for partial string searches). You can see how the View Item Dependencies functionality works in this video:

4) Tags for Your Items, Groups, AND Users

GOOD: You have a strong tagging library of all the items, users, and groups in your Organization.

NOT SO GOOD: You have no idea where certain content is, and browsing for specific items, users, or groups can often be time-consuming.

For most Organizations, if you’ve spent more than a single minute trying to locate any particular item, group or user, that usually indicates your tagging library needs some improving. If you’ve ever had, or overheard a discussion that sounds like: “Remember that thing we made for the people at the place, a while back? Who has that? Can we find it?

That means you really need to update your tags! A strong, comprehensive tagging library will ensure your items, users, and groups are easily accessible.

The Solution, Simplified: All versions of Admin Tools for ArcGIS allow for bulk tagging, sorting and filtering your content, including by tags. You can even add tags to users, allowing for more granular categorization and accessibility of all your users. In fact, nearly all operations in Admin Tools starts with accessing a simple, and easy to use list of filterable items, users, or groups.

5) Broken Content

GOOD: All your feature services connect and get responses back as expected.

NOT SO GOOD: Layers and services in your web maps frequently end up broken or fail to respond.

In a perfect world, all layers in all your web maps would just work, all the time. However, in your ArcGIS Administrator welcome package, you should have been notified we do not, in fact, live in a perfect world. As time goes on, content grows and changes over your ArcGIS platform, errors and issues may begin to creep in with your references and content. The necessary way to keep all your services working is to test every web map to make sure they are all getting valid responses, regularly.

The Solution, Simplified: Forget manually looking at every web map for broken references or layers. Simply turn on all the “Broken Items” scans in Clean My Org, and let the application provide a report to you at scheduled times that work for you.

6) Accidental Deletion

GOOD: All your ArcGIS content is protected from accidental deletion.

NOT SO GOOD: At any point, your hosted content is a couple clicks aware from being removed, deleted and gone forever.

One question you really need to ask yourself as an ArcGIS Administrator is “How low is the barrier to entry when it comes to accidentally deleting any and all content?” If that workflow is nothing more than “select item > delete,” and you happen to value that content, you may want to enable delete protection for all your long-term or otherwise critical items.

The Solution, Simplified: All versions of Admin Tools for ArcGIS lets you add delete protection in bulk to all your items. And if you’re the type of ArcGIS Administrator that wants to know regularly if anything is NOT delete protected? It’s also a scan option in Clean My Org!

7) Group Sharing and Redundancy

GOOD: All your ArcGIS groups have well-defined purposes across their respective users and content. 

NOT SO GOOD: You have many similar groups with all the same users sharing the exact same content amongst them.

If your ArcGIS team has dozens of groups with the same members and no clear categories in which to share content, resulting in lots of repetitive items being shared across them, then you’re not alone. This is a common issue that many ArcGIS Administrators find frustrating when it comes to managing accessible content. The best cure for this is to audit your groups and thoroughly clean house to prevent your groups from becoming another nebulous collection of similar users and content.

The Solution, Simplified: Cleaning house for all the redundancies for your group is A LOT easier with Clean My Org! After your configurable scan is finished, you can easily identify and fix any messy groups.

So how did you do? Are you on top of these seven potentially problematic issues, and master of your ArcGIS domain, or do these problems sound familiar? Either way, I encourage you to look into the products that exemplifies our philosophy of “The Power of GIS, Simplified.” 

If you’d like to know more about us or have questions, please reach out to us at

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