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Introduction to geoportals

What is a geoportal?

A geoportal is a gateway to web-based geospatial resources, enabling you to discover, view, and access geospatial information and services made available by their providing organizations. Likewise, data providers can use the geoportal to make their geospatial resources discoverable, viewable, and accessible to others.

Esri Geoportal Server provides seamless communication with data services that use a wide range of communication protocols, and also supports searching, publishing, and managing standards-based resources.

The suite of software modules includes the following:

  • A customizable geoportal web application for publishing, administering, and searching resources
  • A live data previewer map interface for viewing live resources
  • Integration with content management systems to organize resources to support focused user communities
  • Data extraction service customization for downloading data for a resource, with the ability to specify an extent, projection, and download format
  • Search results exposed through the REST API so resources can be easily shared among applications and users
  • Widgets for searching geoportals from an HTML page, a Flex-based viewer, or a Silverlight-based viewer

Esri Geoportal Server is now maintained separately as an open source product on GitHub. For detailed information about Geoportal Server, see

What is the INSPIRE Geoportal Server?

The INSPIRE Geoportal Server is a suite of software modules that are based on Esri Geoportal Server, but it has been tailored toward INSPIRE needs. It allows an organization to build a custom geoportal that meets its style, resource needs, and use objectives of INSPIRE.

The INSPIRE Geoportal Server system requirements are different from other software components of INSPIRE. See the installation and system requirements as well as the documentation for important information about Esri Geoportal Server.

What is a resource?

A resource—in geoportal terms—is information, data, or a repository that hosts information or data. Resources can be metadata records, web services, Wikipedia articles, Flickr content, YouTube videos, SharePoint documents, RSS feeds, KML documents, REST URLs, metadata catalogs, and more.

There are a number of things that can be done with a resource using the Geoportal extension. You can discover resources through the geoportal and view metadata about the resource. You can preview the resource if it's a live service through the geoportal preview page. You can share the resource with others by sending its REST API URL using email, a Twitter feed, social media, or a content management system link. Providers of the resource can publish it to the geoportal so others can discover the resources.