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Not Your Parents’ Portal | ArcGIS Portal 2019

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

by | Victor Capa

Back when Portal for ArcGIS released in 2009, many organizations struggled with understanding the benefits of the software and how it would enhance their ArcGIS Server map services. Self-service mapping was a difficult concept, in part due to many GIS developers and GIS analysts thinking they would be obsolete. Even throughout all the apprehension, organizations invested in the technology and the platform to provide a portal into GIS for their employees.

Fast forward to almost ten years later. These days, organizations have new Portal challenges, as well as questions on how to administer and maintain their investment. Whether you’ve had your Portal for ten years or are just starting to think about investing in Portal, there are many common questions and challenges that are faced daily.

I recently had a conversation about Portal with a client. At one point he asked, “Which gas network web map do I use? I am seeing three different ones.” This got me wondering – how do you designate authoritative content? Do you designate a particular web server and say that any map services that reference that URL would be authoritative? If you added an “authoritative content” tag to your items, would that be enough for users to differentiate? Do you create a specific user and any items from that user would be considered authoritative? In the end, we decided to create a specific thumbnail for authoritative content.

As an administrator of many Portals, I often get requests to grant a new employee access to Portal or ArcGIS Online. Thankfully, requests to remove an employee are less frequent. How do you handle this change to personnel within your organization? Is your Portal connected to an enterprise Active Directory? How do you add members to the Portal when they are added to the Active Directory? A better question is how do you remove members from the Portal when they are removed from the Active Directory? A related challenge comes with when you remove the members – what do you do with the content and groups they own? We recently had a colleague move on who had a lot of content – some authoritative – and we had to find another user to transfer ownership of his content.

In all my conversations with various clients and colleagues, one question asked almost always reveals an issue: How do you manage aging content? Is there an updated version to the dataset or map? What’s your policy for retaining information that is over a year old? Who is responsible for making sure the authoritative content is still current? Ensuring that your content is still relevant for the current organization challenges provides extreme value for the ArcGIS platform.

Most of these challenges can be solved with defined workflows and corporate policies. Some challenges may require a script to provide consistent results. Yet another possibility – a monitoring tool to provide insight to how your Portal is being utilized throughout your organization. There are many considerations for implementing, using, and maintaining your Portal, beyond the obvious ones. We would love to hear your feedback on these or other challenges you’ve faced!


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