Enable colleagues to update your maps and apps

Groups are a great way to share and organize your web GIS content, and the July 2015 update to ArcGIS Online just gave groups an exciting and useful new capability: you can now use groups to give members permission to update your items. This means you can designate members of your organization who can also modify your maps, apps, layers, and files (as well as their item details).

There are many situations where this can be helpful; for example:

  • A team of shift workers can easily share responsibility for updating a critical web map. Any shift worker can add or remove layers, change symbols and pop-ups, or update the map’s title or description.
  • Content reviewers can make simple changes to story maps themselves (like correcting a typo in the text or pop-up) rather than providing a list of corrections and waiting for the author to address them.
  • You can designate someone to incorporate your boss’s feedback and finalize your map and app while you are on vacation so you don’t have to bring your laptop with you to the beach.
  • A public feature layer can be maintained by a team of editors without enabling editing on the layer for everyone. The recommended way to manage feature layer permissions is now to use Feature Layer Views.

How to enable and use item collaboration

To take advantage of this workflow just ask an administrator to:

  1. Create a new group
  2. Choose All items for the What items in the group can its members update? option when creating the group. (This option cannot be enabled on an existing group.)
  3. Add you and the colleagues with whom you wish to collaborate to the group

While not required, it’s usually best if the administrator makes this type of group Private and adds members using either the group assignment tool in the organization’s settings or the option to Add members of the organization immediately, without requiring confirmation.

Once the group is created you can share items to the group from My Content using the steps below:

  1. Check the item(s) you want to share
  2. Click Share > Access and update capabilities
  3. Select the collaboration group(s)

Then and now

Before the July 2015 update, only administrators or members in a custom role with the Content: Update administrative privilege could update other members’ items. Granting members this privilege also allows them to update any item in the organization.

Now, through the use of this new group setting, any member of your organization can easily authorize any other member to update a specific set of items. This opens up many additional ways for you to collaborate with your colleagues.

For more information

For more on this new capability, see the ArcGIS Online help topics on creating groups and sharing items.

Also see this follow up post about more ways to collaborate on maps and apps.

This blog was originally published in July 2015 and was updated in March 2017 and June 2017 based on new capabilities that have been added to ArcGIS.

This entry was posted in ArcGIS Online, Security, Story Maps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply


  1. aespe says:

    How about groups that were created before the July update? Cannot find the functionality when editing ‘old’ groups.

  2. matt wilkie says:

    Addition to @aespe’s comment: the group has to be created from the organisation admin account. Although a mere publisher can create new groups, they don’t see the extra “Members can update all items in this group” check-box

  3. zconlen says:

    Nice job. This is really helpful.

  4. zconlen says:

    This seems to work fine for web maps, but seems a bit tricky for web apps. I have a couple apps I’m sharing with colleagues (one is a series story map, the other web app builder). There is no obvious way for my colleagues to get into the editing environment, unless they know the url. For the story map, they can go to details and find a link to configure it, but that is not an option for the web app builder app. I would suggest adding a link ‘Edit’ along with the standard ‘Open’ and ‘Details’ for all app items.

    • michelle_test says:

      We will be expanding this functionality to WebApp Builder and Templates in a future release.

      ArcGIS Online Team

    • emlee says:

      Hello. That is my struggle too. So, is there a way for other members in the group to edit/configure the webapp builder for now? Or it’ll be the next release? Thanks.

      • michelle_test says:

        We plan to extent support of the group update capability to webapp builder and templates in Q1/2 of 2016. Thanks.

        ArcGIS Online Team

        • emlee says:

          Thanks Michelle. This would be a great solution for those teams who need to configure their WebApp Builders regularly by different team members in the group. We don’t want them to keep pushing for a group login…

        • brokev03 says:

          Hi Michelle, any update on release of capability for sharing edit permissions for WAB apps? We’re nearing end of Q1 2016.

          • michelle_test says:

            Hi there. This functionality has been delayed. It’s a bit trickier to implement than we thought. We hope to add it later this year.


        • ebowne says:

          It is now July of 2016, has there been any progress on allowing members of the collaborative group to edit/configure the app in webapp builder? We have a real need for this. It seems to still be only the owner who can edit the apps.

          • michelle_uc says:

            I apologize for the continued delay in adding this functionality. We took a look at it and aren’t able to implement with the current infrastructure. We are now targeting Q1/2 2017.

          • daniel_mcilroy says:

            @michelle_uc just wondering how the progress on this is going, and is it still on target for release in Q1/2 2017. As AGOL becomes more prevalent in our organization this level of collaboration is being requested (expected?!) more and more. Thanks, Dan

    • joshua.oregon says:

      Thanks for the comment. I had to add &edit=true as a URL parameter to my story map in order to enable editing. It’s not very intuitive, so I would like to see the ‘configure app’ action available on the item page.

  5. sfowlds13 says:

    I have set my group following the specifications above, but no group members have the capability to edit the file. They can only update attributes within the file. My end goal is to be able to use this as “A publicly visible hosted feature layer can be maintained by a team of editors without enabling editing on the layer for everyone.” as discussed above.

  6. Vignesh SREEDHAR says:

    ArcGIS, in general is a very good tool but there is a small difficulty with the group edit facility. If a group is working on a background map, (for example) and if someone saves their work, all the information or improvement another person does vanishes when the page is reloaded. This is why the group edit facility cannot easily be done with everyone working on it simultaneously.

    • Owen Evans says:

      Vignesh – yes, you are correct; at this time this feature has a “last save wins” editing model, so it is not appropriate for real-time/simultaneous collaborative editing. It’s appropriate for shift workers (who work at different times and would not be editing items simultaneously) and small groups of people that communicate about their shared responsibility though other channels. There are some other good use cases for this feature in this blog post: http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2015/08/11/more-ways-to-collaborate-on-maps-and-apps/

      I hope this is helpful,

      • Vignesh SREEDHAR says:

        Thank you, that really helped. So, when my group was almost done making the story map, we saw some flaws in the background map which we wanted to change. Therefore, we changed the background map, saved it and reloaded the story map. We had done this before and it had worked. But this time, when we put our background map in the story map, it changed and all the labels went away. Though the markers were still present, we could not further edit our background map. Since it did not respond, we made another background map and again, when we put in our story map, it was blank and everything disappeared. How can I retrieve my former background maps and why is this happening?

        • Vignesh SREEDHAR says:

          Owen – I tried the background map thrice without making it a group map. Everything works fine but when I always design a particular area (of the city of Cartagena) it does not work. We also made sure that we did not have many layers and not many places in that area as it did not work when there were too many layers. So, even with a single layer, it does not work. Please help me in clarifying this enquiry of mine.

  7. dev2basicgov says:

    You will also need to go to the feature details > settings > Enable editing

  8. meg.hoole_bcgov03 says:

    Hello…. I ran into an error when trying to change ownership of content that had been shared to a collaboration type group: Error – Unable to change the owner of items that are shared to a group with the update capability. Do you know how to remedy this?

  9. Mark Fleming says:

    I did follow the instructions above, but still the members of my new group do not have a “Switch to Builder Mode” when viewing the Story Map application I own. Any suggestions from here, please?

    • Owen Evans says:

      Hi Mark – sorry you are having an issue. I just tested with a Map Tour app and was able to see that button. I’d suggest you please open a ticket with Esri Support so they can help you troubleshoot your specific situation further.