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GIS Software and Tutorials

This guide provides GIS software download instruction and usage tutorials.

Learning ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online (AGOL) is a cloud based suite of GIS tools that run in your browser and facilitate web map creation and publishing. Washington University students, faculty, and staff may use their active WUSTL Key credentials to open an account in the WU AGOL Organization in order to create and share interactive online maps (see this page for instructions). This LibGuide compiles resources and tutorial material to help you learn to effectively utilize this platform. The best guidance for using AGOL for map creation comes from ESRI documentation and the user community. 

Keep in mind, AGOL is regularly updated to add new functionality. You may notice changes in appearance and behavior when you next login; the ArcGIS Online Blog is a great place to learn about new features and functions. See the Online Training Resources tab for links to more traditional in-depth training courses. 

There are two main functions in AGOL that are in common use at Washington University:

  • ArcGIS Online is used to create interactive maps, share data, and perform spatial analysis. Maps created in this application can remain private, can be shared only with the WUSTL Organization, or shared publicly with the internet.
    • Introduction to ArcGIS Online Mapping (online workshop recorded 7/8/2020 - Workshop Handout)
      • This session introduces the platform and guides viewers through the process of setting up an interactive map using publicly available online data. Specific tasks include; configuring layers, bookmarks, and pop-ups, understanding sharing options, and using georeferenced map images.

  • ArcGIS Storymaps is an AGOL based tool for building web pages hosted in the cloud that include text, images, and interactive maps. 
    • Telling Your Story with ArcGIS Storymaps (online workshop recorded fall 2020 - video and supporting materials)
      • This session covers building a Storymap by adding text, images, and videos.  Special functions such as using the Express Maps and the SideCar section are also demonstrated.  Previewing the Storymap and a discussion about map making practices and options for designing the overall Story style round out the content.


Add Data to AGOL Maps

This page includes step by step examples for adding data to your maps.  You can bring in public data from the ArcGIS Online collection that has been shared by AGOL users.  You can also add data from a web service if the provider has published an appropriate service link..

Add a Layer from ArcGIS Online

This example covers adding the WashU Campus Basemap to your map, but the workflow applies to adding any layer from AGOL.


1.In the Map Viewer window, click the Add button and Search for Layers.




2.Click the My Content drop down and select ArcGIS Online.




3. In the Search for layer search bar, type "WUSTL Campus Basemap."




4. Select the layer called "CampusBasemap" by "wustladm."  Click the plus sign in the lower right corner to add the layer to your map. Click the back arrow in the upper right corner of the layer selection pane to hide it.  The WashU Campus Basemap appears in your map window and the layer name is added to the Content pane.





Add a Layer from a Web Service

This example covers adding a layer from the WashU web feature service collection, but the workflow applies to adding any web feature service hosted by ArcGIS Server.  For more information on web services and including them in AGOL, see the ArcGIS Server web services help page.


1. In a web browser, navigate to the WashU web feature services collection directory.  Click through the categories to find the web feature service that you would like to add to your map.  This example will cover adding the Libraries points from the Places of Interest Group.  Once you have located the web service for the features you would like to add to your map, copy the service URL to your computer's clipboard.  You will need it in the next steps.




2. In the Map Viewer window, click the Add button and Search for Layers.




3.Click the My Content drop down and select Add Layer from Web.




4. In the Add Layer from Web window, make sure the "What type of data are you referencing?" drop down is set to "An ArcGIS Server Web Service." Paste the URL from your clipboard into the URL text box.  The "Add Layer" button will activate.  Click "Add Layer."




5. A points layer representing the University Libraries locations has been added to your map.  The layer name also appears in the Content pane.




Analysis with AGOL

ArcGIS Online enables browser based access to spatial analysis functions that have traditionally been available only in desktop applications. The range of functions and associated options are limited compared to desktop software but the possibilities are expanding and many users will find the tools they need. This AGOL function is called Map Viewer.

Some analysis functions consume AGOL credits and users should be aware of their balance and the requirements for analysis operations they plan to carryout. Analysis tools will typically include a link to WashU AGOL Organization members are allocated 200 credits upon account initiation; additional credits can be requested by contacting Data Services.

These resources provide brief examples of analysis operations:

  • Make a Demographic Map in 5 Minutes (ESRI Blog post)
    Use Living Atlas census block features and Data Enrichment to create a map of population growth and median household income.
  • Add Demographics to Your Datasets (Fast!) (ESRI Blog post)
    This examples shows how to publish point data to AGOL and then compile demographic data from the surrounding area within a 5 minute drive time of each point. The example also shows how to enrich line and polygon features.

Several ESRI Online courses feature more detailed examples of spatial analysis in AGOL:

Introduction to Storymapping

Introduction to Storymapping - Library Research Workshop

This is a companion page for the "Getting to Know the WU Libraries" Storymapping Workshop and provides supporting information, links to content, and additional resources.  This session demonstrates the process for creating a Storymap using the ArcGIS Online platform and the steps are detailed in this document.  The ArcGIS Online platform works best in the Chrome or Firefox browsers; see this page if you do not already have an account.


  • Introduction to ArcGIS Online (AGOL) and Storymaps
  • Creating a Storymap
  • Adding Text, Images, and Maps
  • Sharing your story

Supporting Material

  • Video Index (Chapter sections in video progress bar)
    • Introduction
      • Accessing workshop materials - see "Source Links" below to download materials
      • Accessing ArcGIS Online and Storymap application
    • Building a Storymap
      • Set up the Title page
      • Adding and formatting text sections
    • Using the Express Maps function
    • Adding images
    • Formatting a Sidecar section
    • Embedding a video
    • Previewing your Storymap
    • Map making discussion
    • Overall Story style
  • Source Links
  • Post Session Survey : Please share your feedback...for Workshop, enter "Intro to Storymapping - video - viewed [date]"


Online Resources

The list below contains links to additional online tutorials and videos that will help you get started using ArcGIS Online (AGOL).

Some of the items listed below will require a login (those items where cost equals “Requires Maintenance”).  If you already have an ArcGIS Online account, you can log in with those credentials (usually your WUSTL Key). If you do not have an ArcGIS Online account, see this page for instructions.  If you have issues accessing any of the items below please contact Data Services for assistance. 

ArcGIS Online (ESRI online documentation)

ArcGIS Pro (ESRI online documentation)

StoryMaps (ESRI online documentation)


Examples of working with ArcGIS Storymaps

Custom ArcGIS Web Maps/Apps

Access to the complete list of ESRI training material is available by searching: