So, you wanna mess around with ArcGIS.com. First, you’ll want to create an account of logging to your existing ESRI global account – not totally necessary, however, for full functionality you’ll want to be logged in. Once logged in you can begin exploring or even creating your own maps.I started my first map by zooming into an area of interest (the Gulf of Mexico, LA coastline in this case. Then select a basemap to use in your map… this is where it starts getting really cool! Users have about 12 choices in selecting a basemap including: Bing aerial, hybrid, or road map, street basemap, imagery, toppo map, or even OpenStreetMap… nice! I selected an imagery layer. Next, the fun begins by searching for data layers using the ArcGIS Online service… users can also search the web or a local GIS server for data. Searching for “Louisiana” I discovered a Gulf Coast Environmental sensitivity data layer and added that.
I also discovered a Gulf Coast oil spill 3 day forecast data layer along with data showing wind direction. The data layers were all combined and saved as a map in my collection. Once saved I had the opportunity to enable sharing and discovery of my map by everyone and was provided with a link to directly access my map.
A couple of quick observations. I could not easily locate a way to see my data layers and then toggle them on/off. Although, when I viewed my map after saving I could view the map legend (upper left), toggle them on/off, and view other information about the map (Correction, editing/removing data layers is found in lower-left region when creating maps) . Also, I had assumed that there might be an embed map option… this was not available as an option either as far as I could tell. To view user maps (including the one I created) see the Gallery
Note: Once saved, maps can be opened and viewed using ArcGIS.com or ArcGIS desktop if available to you. You can see my map HERE