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Create an offline map

Fieldwork takes you and your mobile workers places without a data connection, but that shouldn’t stop you from using your GIS data. You can make a map that doesn’t require the Internet, and you can use it on your device in the field. You might be using Explorer for ArcGIS, or perhaps a custom application built with AppStudio for ArcGIS or ArcGIS Runtime SDK. In this tutorial, you’ll look at the following:

  • How to build a map that can be used offline (without a data connection)
  • How to use the map anonymously in Explorer for ArcGIS


To complete this tutorial, you must have the ArcGIS Publisher extension.

Find and open the project

The data used in this tutorial is available as a project package that can be downloaded from ArcGIS Online through ArcGIS Pro. The publicly available data is from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

  1. From the ArcGIS Pro start page, click Open another project Open another project.
  2. Click Portal Portal and then click Browse Browse.
  3. Click the All Portal filter All Portal and search for Make Offline Map example.
  4. Select the project package and click OK.

    The project downloads and opens with three maps: Operational, VTPK_Source_BM, and Basemap.

    The project opens with three maps: Operational, VTPK_Source_BM, and Basemap.

Explore the sample project

Explore the three maps in the project- Operational, VTPK_Source_BM, and Basemap to get a sense of the data being shared in the mobile map package. All three maps are linked, and as you zoom and pan around one map, the other maps update to display the same extent and scale level.

  1. Click the Operational map to active it.

    The Operational map consists of places, points, and areas of interest. The layers in this map provide searchable and clickable features for your offline map. You can author the Operational map to allow your map users to search for features by attributes and to tap features to see pop-ups.

  2. Activate the VTPK_Source_BM basemap.

    The VTPK_Source_BM map shows the boundaries for Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. The information in this map provides background reference data for the operational layers. Layers in the basemap are only for visualization. Users of the offline map won't be able to access attributes through a pop-up or be able to search for features in the basemap. If there are layers in this map that you want users to interact with, move them to the Operational map.

  3. Activate the Basemap basemap.

    The basemap map is empty—you'll use this later in conjunction with the VTPK_Source_BM map to create a vector tile basemap.

  4. Activate the Operational map, click the Map ribbon, click the Basemap drop-down menu Basemap, and select the VTPK_Source_BM basemap.

    The Operational map now shows the VTPK_Source_BM basemap below the operational layers.

  5. Pan and zoom around the map to familiarize yourself with the basemap and operational data. This will give you context for how the operational layers work with the basemap layers.

    If you do not see any labels, click the refresh button Refresh to refresh the map view.

Create a vector tile package

Best practices for efficient offline maps require basemaps that are made up of vector tile packages (.vtpk) for vector data and tile packages (.tpk) for raster data. In this tutorial, you'll use vector tiles for the basemap. Although vector tile packages are not required, they are recommended to improve drawing performance and are especially useful for basemaps as vector tile packages do not provide access to attributes or user interaction with features.

You could create an offline map of all of the content of the map; however, it's common to create an offline map or multiple offline maps for a subsection of an existing map. For example, you may have a map of the entire United States, but you are only interested in making an offline map for a specific city. With that in mind, you'll make an offline map for only a portion of this map, the Grand Teton National Park.

  1. Activate the VTPK_Source_BM basemap and zoom to the extent of Grand Teton National Park.

    The geoprocessing tool used to create a vector tile package will create vector tiles for the map's defined extent.

  2. Right-click the basemap in the Contents pane and click Properties Properties.
  3. On the Extent tab, click Custom extent, click the Calculate from drop-down menu, and click Current visible extent.

    The geoprocessing tool used to create a vector tile package will create vector tiles for the map's defined extent. Click Full Extent Full Extent on the Map ribbon to verify that the map's extent is what you expect.

  4. On the Metadata tab, enter a description for the basemap.

    The Create Vector Tile Package geoprocessing tool will fail if the input map is missing a description.

  5. On the Analysis ribbon, click Tools Tools.

    The Geoprocessing pane opens.

  6. Search for Vector tile package and click Create Vector Tile Package.

    The Create Vector Tile Package tool opens.

  7. Click the Input Map drop-down menu and choose VTPK_Source_BM.
  8. Specify a known location and file name for Output File.
  9. Uncheck Package for ArcGIS Online | Bing Maps | Google Maps.

    To use the ArcGIS Online | Bing Maps | Google Maps tiling scheme, the input map needs to be in the Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere projection. To avoid reprojecting data that is in North American 1983, Package for ArcGIS Online | Bing Maps | Google Maps must be unchecked.

    The tiling scheme is automatically populated with a tiling scheme using the projection of the input map.

  10. Set Maximum Cached Scale to 0.

    Some offline map use cases require zooming in close to the map. Without setting the maximum cached scale to 0, the vector tile package would stop displaying once zoomed in past the default maximum cached scale. By setting this to 0, users can zoom in as close as they want and still see vector tile information.

  11. The rest of the input parameters can be left unchanged.

    Output File, Tiling scheme, and Maximum Cached Scale have been modified.

  12. Click Run Run.

    A vector tile package of the VTPK_Source_BM basemap is created. You will consume this vector tile package in the empty basemap.

Set the vector tile package to be a basemap

To consume the vector tile package as a basemap, you'll add the package to an empty basemap and set the Operational map to use the vector tile basemap.

  1. Activate the Basemap basemap.
  2. On the Map ribbon, click Add Data Add Data.
  3. Browse to the vector tile package you created in the previous section and click OK.
  4. Activate the Operational map, click the Map ribbon, click the Basemap drop-down menu Basemap, and then select the Basemap basemap that now contains the vector tile package.

    The basemap of the Operational map is now updated to the Basemap basemap.

  5. In the Contents pane, right-click Basemap and click Zoom to Layer Zoom To Layer.

    The map extent matches the basemap and is the study area you will be sharing for offline use.

Enhance map usability

To make your offline map more user friendly, you will include search functionality and bookmarks. Search can be accomplished through either feature search or a locator. You'll go through both workflows.


Different apps support different types of search functionality. Both are supported in Explorer. Navigator for ArcGIS only supports locators. It is up to the developer with an AppStudio or Runtime SDK app.

Feature search

  1. On the Map ribbon, click Locate Locate.

    The Locate pane opens. The locators associated with your active portal are listed. These won't be accessible for offline map users or users you share the map with who are not members of your organization.

  2. On the Settings tab, click the add button Add a Locate Provider and click Add Layer Add Layer.

    The Select Layer dialog box opens. All feature layers in your map are listed.

  3. To allow users to find mountain peaks, select TowerSummitMinesDam and click OK.

    Many of the operational layers in this map reference the same point feature class, Geonames USA. A layer definition query is being used to group varying Geonames Point of Interest types.

    The Locate pane updates to display the Configure Layer for Locate pane. All fields in the layer are listed in the pane and can be configured for search.

  4. You will use the default search mode for FEATURE_NAME, Contains. This will return search results for all features in the TowerSummitMinesDam layer that contain the characters searched for by the map user.

    If you use the Equals search mode, the user will need to enter the exact string that matches the FEATURE_NAME attribute.

    The Layer locator has been configured with FEATURE_NAME to use the Contains search mode.

  5. Click the save and return button Save and return to Settings to save and return to Settings.
  6. TowerSummitMinesDam is now listed in the Locators pane. Uncheck the locators provided by your organization and click the Locate tab to test the feature search on the TowerSummitMinesDam layer.
    1. Search for Grand Te and notice the feature Grand Teton is returned in the search results.


  1. Activate the Geoprocessing pane. If it is not already open, you can access it from the Analysis ribbon by clicking Tools Tools.
  2. Search for Create Address Locator and click Create Address Locator.

    The Create Address Locator tool opens.

  3. Click the Address Locator Style drop-down menu and select General - Gazetteer.

    General - Single Field also works well for searching for points of interest.

  4. Click the Reference Data drop-down menu and select LocalePopPlace. Keep the default role of Primary Table.
  5. Click the Place Name drop-down menu and select FEATURE_NAME.
  6. Specify a known location and file name for Output Address Locator.
  7. Check Enable suggestions.

    As users type their search string into the map, suggestions are presented. This isn't supported with feature search.

    Suggestions are not supported for file-based locators in ArcGIS Pro, but they are supported in Explorer for ArcGIS and Navigator for ArcGIS and are available to developers of AppStudio for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Runtime SDK apps.

  8. Click Run Run.

    A locator based on the LocalePopPlace layer is created.

  9. Open the Locate pane and click the Settings tab to see that the locator is automatically added to the list of locators.
    1. Click the Locate tab and search for White Grass.
    2. Notice that both White Grass Rand and White Grass Ranger Station are returned in the search results.


Bookmarks provide predefined, named extents that users can quickly zoom to. When sharing a mobile map package, your bookmarks will be included in the offline map.

  1. Zoom in to one of the lakes within the study area.
  2. On the Map ribbon, click the Bookmarks drop-down menu Bookmarks and click New Bookmark New Bookmark.

    The Create Bookmark dialog box opens.

  3. Provide a name and description of the bookmark and click OK.

    The bookmark is now added to your map.

  4. Add additional bookmarks as needed for areas that are expected to be highly trafficked.


Pop-ups allow users to see information about features by tapping the features on the map. Pop-ups that you define in ArcGIS Pro are included in the offline map.

  1. In the Contents pane, right-click the buildings layer and click Enable Pop-ups Enable Pop-ups. If pop-ups are already enabled, skip to step 2.
  2. Right-click the layer again and click Configure Pop-ups Configure pop-ups.

    The Pop-ups pane opens.

  3. By default, the pop-up includes all fields in the layer. You can click the edit button Edit Pop-up Element to edit the fields that are included in the element. You can add additional elements to the pop-up by clicking the options at the top of the pane.

    For more information on configuring pop-ups, see Configure pop-ups.

Create and share the mobile map package

You authored your map to include operational layers with feature search and pop-ups, a fast basemap that uses vector tiles, bookmarks for easy access to common extents, and a locator for additional search; all of these combine to make a map that is efficient and easy to use. Now let's share it as a mobile map package.

  1. Activate the Operational map if it is not already active, right-click the Basemap layer in the Contents pane, and click Zoom to Layer Zoom To Layer.
  2. On the Share ribbon, click Mobile Map New Mobile Map Package in the Package group.

    The Package Mobile Map pane opens.

  3. By default, the mobile map package will be uploaded to your active portal. You'll leave this as the default.
  4. Provide a name for the map package. You'll want to use something unique so it is easy to find through Explorer for ArcGIS later.
  5. The metadata of the map is automatically used as the input for the Summary and Tags fields. Add tags so your package will be easy to find.
  6. You will use the default extent option, Current Display Extent.

    Using an Area of Interest polygon feature class allows you to specify a custom extent for your offline map. For example, you could use a feature class that has polygon boundaries for the five largest metro areas in the United States.

  7. Check Clip.

    Checking Clip means that features that extend past your extent selection will be clipped. Following the previous example, any features extending outside of the five largest metro areas in the United States would be clipped to the boundary of the metro areas. Locators that are included in the mobile map package are also limited to the chosen extent, ensuring users only find locations that are on the map.


    The Extent and Clip options don't apply to the vector tile package. Regardless of these settings, the entire vector tile package is included in the package.

  8. Check Include Locator. Click the drop-down menu and select the locator you created for this tutorial.
  9. If you have the ArcGIS Publisher extension, you can check Enable Anonymous Use.

    Anonymous use allows you to create mobile map packages for users who are not members of an ArcGIS organization. Explorer for ArcGIS can be used anonymously (without signing in), so users don't need an ArcGIS user name to use the app. Enabling anonymous use makes mobile map packages that can be downloaded and used by anyone with access to them, independent of their login.

  10. Specify how the package will be shared:
    • Everyone—This option makes your content public. Anyone can access and see it.
    • My Organization—If you are signed in with an organizational account, you see this option. This option allows your content to be shared with all authenticated users in the organization.
    • Groups—You can share your content with groups you belong to and their members.
  11. Click Analyze to check for any errors or issues. You must resolve all errors. If any issues are discovered, they appear on the Messages tab. Right-click each message to get more information, read the help for the error or warning, and access suggested fixes.
  12. Once it's validated, click Package to create your package.

Use the offline map in Explorer for ArcGIS

Now that you have created and shared your mobile map package, you'll consume it through Explorer for ArcGIS.

  1. Open the Explorer for ArcGIS application on your mobile device. Click the Continue Without Signing in option.

    You are working as an anonymous user in Explorer for ArcGIS. If you did not share your package publicly or enable anonymous access, you will not be able to proceed.

  2. Search for the mobile map package you shared from ArcGIS Pro.
  3. In the search results, click the download option next to your map.

    The map is now downloaded onto your device and is available in the On Device section of your list of maps.

  4. Tap the map to open it.

    The map opens to the extent you selected when creating the mobile map package.

  5. Click the magnifying glass and search for Grand Teton.
  6. Clicking the book gives access to any bookmarks you authored, and clicking the bookmarks takes you to the given extent.
  7. Clicking features provides a pop-up with information about that feature as defined in your pop-up configuration.

You have now authored a map for offline use in ArcGIS Pro using vector tiles, feature search, bookmarks, and pop-ups to create an efficient and useful offline map. You then shared this map as a mobile map package to your ArcGIS Online organization and consumed the package offline on your mobile device through Explorer for ArcGIS.