ArcGIS Online Printing Enhancements US&R

07-28-2021 02:08 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor II

First – thank you to Esri and everyone else (FEMA GIS, NAPSG Foundation) who makes all of our geospatial tools available for Urban Search and Rescue (US&R). We finally have a common operating platform and mobile apps that firefighters can use. The below is an attempt to help make this system better and prevent us from losing traction with our System members.

During the Champlain Tower Collapse in Surfside, FL we needed to make quick paper maps for the field and incident command post briefings. Our audience is primarily Firefighters, Urban Search and Rescue Teams.

The Problem The Print Widget in Web AppBuilder (we call it “the Intel Manager”) and Web Map Viewer Printing do not provide a printed map that meets our standards. This meant we relied heavily on GIS Professionals off-site and resulted in some teams using other systems (e.g., Powerpoint, SARTopo, hand-drawn maps) that were not tied into our common operating picture. This was a problem on this deployment and will be a big challenge with hurricane response later this year.

Solution: A printing tool that works in ArcGIS Online that has the following capabilities. Please note, ArcGIS Sever is not an option for us. We just need this to work by signing in with our accounts.

1) Preview - Provide a print preview and bounding box - people need to know what map extent they are going to get before they hit print. In addition, it seemed like the PDF produced did not even match what we had on-screen. See the SARTopo video below, we like how they let you select a scale and/or bounding area, center of the map, etc.

2) GeoPDF with QR - The PDF product should be a GeoPDF with scannable QR Codes similar to SARTopo / CalTopo. The PDF should be hosted and accessible via QR Code without any extra work.

3) Grid - USNG / Lat Long Grids similar to SARTopo / CalTopo - for printed maps a USNG Grid is a national standard for search and rescue.

4) North Arrow - this is a standard element for maps.

5) Border - Less white space - we should be able to select the amount of white space/border.

6) Legend - Control over the legend - right now it seems like the legend is never formatted correctly?

7) Page Sizes - a 24x36 and similar size is a must. Also, just use plain language alongside ARCH and ANSI codes, people don't have these memorized!

8 Scale – the scale bar always seems to have strange decimals or not whole numbers? Is there a way to fix this?

While we know the push is to use mobile apps (Survey123, QuickCapture, Field Maps - and we do!), first responders are going to want a printed map for a very long time - for at least the next 10 years. If we cannot get a good printed map out of the system they will continue to seek alternatives, which defeats the purpose of a common operating platform.


Brandy Florida Task Force 1
Santiago Florida Task Force 2

More information about our tools

Not so good map made with Web AppBuilder (off-centered, no north arrow, wierd legend and scale bar, etc.): 


Slightly better map made with SARTopo (but not using our common operating platform or imagery)




SARTopo Examples below:



Ideal Map made with ArcGIS Pro:


Tags (4)

We wholeheartedly agree with the proposed solutions/enhancements @FLTF1USR  and FL-TF2 listed above. We have encountered many of the same hurdles of folks maintaining different maps as a result , and losing Common Operating Picture, on both local and national responses.  We also advocate for the itemized list FL-TF1 and 2 included in the suggested solutions, and need the functionality on AGOL, Server is not an option for us.


Thank you for the detailed feedback and suggestion for printing. Keep the input coming our way so we can continue to improve. -Ryan


Update: The new print widget provided through the map viewer has some slight improvements to the printing interface but the print options and the output are nearly identifical to before. This is disappointing.

I have not heard anything from the @ArcGISOnline Team or JavaScript Team on this topic.

Again, I totally understand the move to using mobile apps. We have rolled out QuickCapture, Survey123, and Field Maps - they love the capability of seeing it on their phone. But first responders in the field still want a decent paper map for tactical decision making.

It can be pretty frustrating telling the +8,000 members of the Urban Search and Rescue System that we are using ArcGIS Online because it is the best mapping platform for their mission, but then telling them to wait in line for me (or just a very small handful of GIS Specialists available) to print them a proper paper map or ask them to go to SARTopo to get the job done.  

We have carefully considered creating our own print utility and determined this would be a major investment of time/money and add complexity (e.g., ArcGIS Enterprise, additional logins, etc.) to our system that is not scalable during disasters.

We just want to know what to do next? How can we help Esri fix this problem? I don't want to use additional mapping platforms (e.g. CalTopo/SARTopo, Google Maps, Avenza) which are disconnected from our common operating platform, but right now that is the only feasible alternative. It seems like some relatively simple enhancements could go a long way. 

A similar idea was posted here in 2019

@BjornSvensson @SudMenon anything else this community can do to help express how important this functionality is during disaster response and public safety in general? Any chance to provide actionable feedback at the EsriUC this year?


We are increasingly using AGOL and mobile apps in our district, but the simple fact remains that there are times when leadership and crews need to be able to print something on short notice. We don't always need an SME to get involved nor do we require Pro-level cartographic design, but it seems so obvious to provide some basic design principles, functionality, and branding to the process of printing off a web map/app. Solution #2 above would be nice, but the other solutions are must haves.


Link here which might be of use to anyone: Printing Custom Layouts from ArcGIS Online - We Talk Tech | Esri Ireland (

ESRI doesn't seem to be rushing to provide this basic functionality in AGOL, so thankfully some people are providing workarounds.