Shortcodes For Making Items Easy to Find in ArcGIS Online

09-02-2020 04:07 PM
Status: Open
Occasional Contributor III

Real-world Problem: ArcGIS Online has grown into a large ecosystem of maps, apps, and data. When searching for an item, (public, private, or especially inter-organizational) it is now very difficult to simply use keywords or titles.


Technical Problem: Keywords, Titles, Tags are not unique enough. This problem is especially challenging when trying to help someone find a web map in mobile apps like Explorer.


Example: A simple search for "Fire Map" returns +10,000 results! 


Workaround: At NAPSG Foundation we started using item ids when referencing specific items vs sending links. Why? Inter-organization URLs often cause issues. For example, if NAPSG shares something into a private group with GISCorps members, if we send them a link that includes - that often prompts them to sign-in to our organization. This is a known issue with ArcGIS Online that I think they are working on.


Search for Item ID: 6dc469279760492d802c7ba6db45ff0e (it's the unique code at the end of a URL for an item) in ArcGIS Online and it will take you to our #FireMappers app.


But what about when you are on the phone or radio trying to describe to a non-GIS person how to navigate to an item that they have access to but can't seem to find? Keywords won't work and item ids are too long. 


Solution: Shortcodes! 

We currently take the last 5 characters of the item id and add it to both the title and tags for our item. 

Item ID: 6dc469279760492d802c7ba6db45ff0e

Short Code: 5ff0e

Search for 5ff0e in ArcGIS Online and our #FireMappers map appears right at the top of the search and I can confirm with my "end-user" / customer that this is the right item because the shortcode is in the title. I can even read this over the phone or radio quickly as "the number five, f-foxtrot, f-foxtrot, the number 0, e-echo". 


We have used this in a few different projects and disaster response support and it works really well! QuickCapture now uses this concept for public projects and SARTopo (an ArcGIS Online-like app) uses shortcodes as well. 


Wouldn't it be awesome if each item had a shortcode generated by default??? Please upvote. 


Would be great to utilize this code in more places as well... Like being able to use it as


I will often receive a copy/pasted link to an app with a request to adjust this or that, but, since I regularly need to make several versions of the same web map/apps for different use cases or security levels, I have to go hunt down the correct version. Being able to just search for the last four or five digits of the item id number would save loads of time. It would also be very helpful to see links for all items used within a wed app or dashboard, similar to how links to all layers within a web map are linked on the Overview page.


I'll admit, I thought this was going to be an overwhelming positive response, but I think it was bad timing with the re-launch of GeoNet. I am getting a lot of positive feedback on this idea from our non-GIS stakeholders using mobile apps, but they aren't likely going to sign into GeoNet to kudos it : (