Using a better map viewer to reach your audience

Note: This blog post contains dated information – please see Six apps to showcase your maps for updated information.

The ArcGIS Online map viewer can be used to share maps with a wider audience, but it may not be the ideal choice if that’s your intended goal. The map viewer is designed to enable users to author, save, and share web maps, and also delivers access to tools for editing and performing analysis. If all you want to do is present your maps for viewing, and especially if  your target audience is decision makers in your organization or the public, there are better options to choose from.

Here’s a few easy-to-use templates that provide basic capabilities and make great alternatives to the map viewer when basic capabilities are what you need.

Where to find the templates

After you’ve finished authoring your map, click Save, then Share. You’ll need to share your map at least within one of your groups to enable the option to Make A Web Application.

Find the template you want to use, then choose Publish, Download, or Preview.

App templates to consider instead of the map viewer

You’ll find all app templates described below listed on the current gallery. All are hosted, configurable application templates that you can use immediately. Optionally, the source can be downloaded to modify and publish from your own servers, and you can also preview your map in each.

As with any web map, the details and documentation are important. These app templates leverage web map pop-ups, layer properties, and more. By default they use the web map title, summary, and item details. Remember that the foundation of any good app is a well-authored and documented web map.

Each example below is shown in the default configuration using the USA Soil Survey map. Each app template provides different configuration options that you can use to tune the application for your audience. View the item details for more information.

Basic Viewer
Basic Viewer was redesigned and released with the July 2014 ArcGIS Online update. It features a clean and modernized UI, and includes all essential tools for map navigation and exploration, such as an overview map, layer list, legend, support for bookmarks, and more. See item details or view sample.

The original Basic Viewer, renamed Classic Viewer, is still available from the app template gallery and can also be found via ArcGIS Online. However this new version has many enhancements, so we recommend using it instead.

Simple Map Viewer
Simple Map Viewer offers support for a collapsible legend and description, and also lets you hide both to view the map in its entirety. It has been designed responsively, so supports a variety of form factors – browsers, tablets, and phones. See item details or view sample.

Storytelling Basic
A simple Story Map template with a bold header showing the title and subtitle and a retractable legend. See item details or view sample.

Storytelling Text and Legend
Another Story Map template with description and legend panels. Optionally, you can configure the application to display multiple web maps using tabs, and choose whether to sync location and scale across all maps. See item details or view sample.

Panels displays the description by default, but you can add the legend with each appearing on either side of the map. A footer can also be configured. See item details or view sample.

Another very basic viewer, it displays a legend by default without a title or subtitle, but has the option to add the description and titles. It also has a configurable footer.  See item details or view sample application.


There’s lots of great alternatives to the map viewer when lightweight viewing and exploration is what you need to deliver. These hosted, easy-to-configure template options can be used to provide a better experience for your intended audience, and are just a few clicks away.

For more information:

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One Comment

  1. billie_leff says:

    Thanks you Bern! This is very helpful and simple guidance to follow.