ArcMap: Free and Official Data in a click with ArcGIS Online!

Note: Even though the French version of this article dates back to 2015, most
of its content is, still, valid.

The availability of free access information layers never stops to
increase . Today it is possible to access multiple and helpful data sources,
not only from an analytical perspective, but also as for an increased quality
of the final results.

ArcGis Online is one of these sources, and what is even more interesting
is the simplicity you can enjoy .

How many times have you clicked on the ArcMap 
“Add data”  button ?   

, do you have already clicked on the scroll down button?   

is as simple as that! No need to connect with ArcCatalog or setting it up.
As soon as you click “Add data from ArcGis Online” you get the data selection

The layers appearing in the window are the last layers added to ArcGis
Online. Each layer features two links:

  • a link “Details”   that displays the metadata of the layer in the ArcGis Online window layer metadata
  • a link  “Add” that loads the layer in your ArcMap window

Here is the result of the click on France
Geological Map layer of France (1: 250 000) 

Besides, you will notice , not having to go through the definition and
setting up of a connection, another good news: you do not need either a login as
ArcGis Online user.

If you have an ArcGis Online account, public or private, you can access
to the layers of these accounts just by clicking “Sign in” in the upper right side
of the window. But without going through that , you have directly access to all
layers that have been declared “public” in ArcGIS Online.

If you enter “France” in the search box and start the process , you see that
there are more than 500 data layers available .

Some “tips”?

Interestingly, a certain number of layers, will not load directly . There is a window that will ask you for a user name and password to access ArcGIS Online.
Do not panic! A public account will give you access. It only takes two minutes, is free and does not commit you to anything in particular.
To create a public account, go to the registration site , and click on the button “CREATE A PUBLIC ACCOUNT”. Do not trust what you see when you load a layer. Often what you see is all that corresponds to the layer. Besides, there are exceptions, and it would be a shame to miss them.
Let’s see an example . In the ArcGis Online window select the layer “ONF – Public Forest Contours” 

layer loaded in ArcMap is as follows:  

If you
zoom on one of the forests we have following information: 

,take a look for further available information.
You have to click on the legend window layer to display its properties .
If you see a tab «   Layers   » you have further available information.
You can select the other layers which are not displayed and pass them to the right
window to make them visible in ArcMap.

Here is the new ArcMap display:

Whether you use them immediately or not, a regular visit to the ArcGis
Online site can only have good surprises for you!

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