Using GPS data in ArcGIS Online web maps

GPS data, whether waypoints, tracks, or routes, can be easily added to your ArcGIS Online web maps. Here’s a closer look at how you can use GPS data, plus some tips on getting more information out of your GPS locations.

Adding GPS tracks, waypoints, and routes

Once you have collected tracks, waypoints, or routes using your GPS device, you can add them to your ArcGIS Online web map. First, export the data from your device as a GPX file – the GPS Exchange format. How you create the GPX file will depend upon the GPS device and software you use.

In this example we’re using a Garmin device and the bundled Garmin MapSource software. But no matter what device you are using, the procedure will be similar.

Generate the GPX file

First, connect your GPS device to your computer, and using your GPS software transfer the data from the device:

In this example we’ve collected a track and waypoints hiking, and can view it in the GPS software as shown below:

Under our Save as options, we select GPS eXchange Format as the file type, to save our hike as a GPX file.

Adding a GPX file to a web map

To add the GPX file to a web map, choose Add, then Add Layer from File:

Then browse to the location of your GPX file to select it, then click Import Layer:

Displaying your GPX file

Once imported, your GPX will display on the map. But depending on what you captured using your GPS device and exported to the GPX file, you may have sublayers you can toggle on.

For example, we captured both the track and waypoints using our GPS device, and exported both in the GPX file. By default, only the track was visible after imported. To display other sublayers, click the layer name to reveal them, and check those you want to display:

You can change symbols, adjust transparency, configure the pop-up, and more, just like other layers. Below we’ve changed symbols and configured the pop-up:

Tip: Getting more out of your GPS data

The GPX file contains more information than what is available after importing it, for example the lat/long of the waypoint and other attributes. How do you get at this information?

One way is to export the GPS data as a comma-separated value (CSV) file instead of a GPX file. This provides access to all information stored by your GPS device, and you can add the CSV file directly to your map by choosing Add, then Add Layer from File.

Using our Garmin MapSource application, we discovered that when saved as a CSV the latitude and longitude values were stored in a single field. This required additional edits to separate them into unique fields, easily accomplished using a text editor, before we could add the CSV to our map.

Following this workflow and options, you can effectively display and make use of your GPS data.

For more information see

This post was originally published on August 13, 2013, and has been updated.

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Leave a Reply

10 Comments

  1. tim_smith@nps.gov says:

    Can you explain how you can get the data out of ArcGIS Online to store locally either through some type of export file or feature service?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      There is no export of these, or other layers, to a different file format. If you add a TXT, CSV, or other supported file types as items, these can be downloaded (GPX files currently can’t be stored as an item). When GPX and other files are added to your web map, they are imported as feature layers so are not stored in their original form.

      • tim_smith@nps.gov says:

        What if you have a feature service? Can you import a GPX or Shape into that feature service? There doesn’t seem to be a way to do this.

        • Bern Szukalski says:

          Within your ArcGIS Online organization you can add a shapefile as an item to your organization. At the time you add it you will be prompted if you want to spin it up as a feature service, and you can always do that later from your shapefile item if you choose not to do it immediately. GPX files are not currently supported item types, but you can export your GPS data as CSV and when you add the CSV as an item you will be presented with the same options to spin it up as a service immediately, or later.

          Using ArcGIS for Desktop you can do both, and can spin it up from ArcMap as a hosted feature service in your ArcGIS Online account, or directly via your ArcGIS for Server.

    • jdoke says:

      There may not be a direct export, but there is a sort of workaround. If you save your web map with the .gpx file in it, you can then “Open in ArcGIS 10 for Desktop”. Once you do this, you can right click on the layer that was once the .gpx then go to data – export data and save it as a shapefile or geodatabase. If you need it to be a .gpx file again, you can use OneClick Tools (http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=9485c079da794382ba54e4eab6ffb1f7) to convert it from a Geodatabase to a .gpx.

  2. khoujayk says:

    Is there a way to use GPS data in real time with arcgis? or is there other way to track object live and import the data at same time?

  3. drawoniran@futa.edu.ng says:

    Is it possible that ArcGis 10.2.1 does not include .gpx format because I’ve been trying to import my GPS data but have not been able to do so because I could not see the format in import/export tool set.
    Thanks.