Esri is making a big push towards ArcGIS Online as a means for map applications. They pushed it really hard at the recent Southeast User Conference and did a good job at highlighting its advantages.

Primarily: Configuration over Customization

I'll admit, this seems to be a significant ROI savings with as simple as some of the maps are to create with little or no programming needed.

What I'm wondering is, for any of you that might have experience with ArcGIS Online, what the advantages and disadvantages are to moving towards this product?

My organization is looking towards a 30 day trial of the product and want to be prepared if we decide to try and sell it to the decision makers.

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1 Answer 1


I have been using ArcGIS Online for the past several months for hosting data to be served in a custom JavaScript web application. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons I have found while working with ArcGIS Online:


  1. Somewhat less flexible than a traditional ArcGIS Server in terms of hosting services and mapping capabilities
  2. No labeling capabilities (that I have found)
  3. No Geoprocessing Services (though I'm told that they're coming)
  4. Limited Role-Based Security (Security is set on the service so all users have same permissions aside from content authors)
  5. User interface seems more suited for sharing data within an organization and is not as presentable for sharing data with clients
  6. Limited support for developers


  1. Saved us from purchasing ArcGIS Server
  2. Fairly easy to get up and running
  3. Configuration of webmaps is very simple and can manage all the data needed for a web application
  4. Service Credit Usage is fairly reasonable (I've been going 6 months now and only used 50 credits)
  5. Integration with ArcGIS Desktop (v 10.1+)
  6. Built In Security

That's all I can think of for now. It can be a great tool for particular purposes. Although it is saving us money using ArcGIS Online instead of ArcGIS Server, as a developer it is definitely much more limited and we have had to use a fair amount of workarounds.

  • 1
    Just to touch on a couple of your cons: It can only host Cached Map services and Feature Services, so if theres something in the traditional Map service you need, right, you dont have access. The geoprocessing thats coming is the hosted analytic solution (provided by Esri) which is in beta now. At this time there isn't a plan for hosting your own GP Services in AGOL.
    – KHibma
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 15:52
  • 1
    I'm one of those Esri people :) It is a long way off.
    – KHibma
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 15:58
  • 2
    @Hornbydd - as far as I know, I still own my data when I upload it into AGOL. I have the ability to set sharing options on the data to share with individuals, my organization, groups, or everyone. I don't think ESRI has any claims to my data unless I share it with them. I haven't looked at the fine print that closely though.
    – Brian
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 16:58
  • 1
    I spoke with some ESRI folks and they verified it is your data. You have full control on it, ESRI just hosts it in the cloud for you. ESRI doesn't gain any rights over the data.
    – Baltok
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 17:03
  • 1
    Another big CON is cost; if you are doing/maintaining large amounts of data to be shared your credits burn fast.
    – D.E.Wright
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 23:01

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