CartoVista and ArcGIS Online: A Comprehensive GIS Software Review

CartoVista and Esri’s ArcGIS Online: both of these cutting-edge platforms offer outstanding features and functionalities that empower users to create interactive and captivating maps. In this blog, we’ll do a deep dive into both platforms, analyzing their strengths, and reviewing their current limitations. We’ll explore their mapping and visualization capabilities, learning curve and ease of use, storytelling features, data integration and analysis features, collaboration capabilities, and pricing models. This will help you make a better decision on what’s the best GIS mapping software for your use case. 

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

Table of Contents

What is ArcGIS Online?

ArcGIS Online is the online component of Esri’s GIS suite designed for GIS specialists. Over the years, Esri has developed GIS tools with numerous extensions. Their SaaS platform ArcGIS Online allows users to upload data and create online interactive maps with their data. As part of Esri’s ecosystem, ArcGIS Online has lots of different features but can be quite complex at times. Although ArcGIS Online was the first to introduce Story Mapping, its steeper learning curve can be somewhat daunting for those who are not familiar with the software.

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What is CartoVista ?

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CartoVista is a cloud-based mapping platform designed for creating interactive and engaging Story Maps. Focusing on ease of use, CartoVista democratizes map-making and data analysis, making it accessible to individuals beyond the realm of GIS specialists, data analysts, or developers. The platform combines a seamless user experience with visually stunning aesthetics and a wealth of rich features, including story mapping, live data updates, online editing, and task automation via a powerful REST API. With an affordable entry price, CartoVista empowers users to tell captivating stories with their data and make informed decisions.

Which GIS Mapping Software is the Best For You?

ArcGIS Online benefits from its full integration into the Esri ecosystem and handles large-scale data analysis very well. Whereas, CartoVista allows anyone (not just GIS specialists)  to create engaging Story Maps quickly and easily. 

If you’re an existing Esri user who has the technical skillset to make the most of the Esri platform and does not use story mapping all that often, then ArcGIS Online is probably a good platform for you. 

However, if you don’t have an existing Esri license or don’t have advanced coding skills, and are looking to create interactive maps, dashboards, and Story Maps easily, then CartoVista is an excellent choice for you. It also helps that CartoVista supports Esri shapefiles and Web Map Tile Service (WMTS), allowing for smooth data integration and helping scale your projects easily. Moreover, CartoVista offers seamless integration with Esri’s ArcGIS Online by utilizing ArcGIS Feature Services, allowing you to fully leverage the combined capabilities of both platforms. 

This means you don’t have to think of CartoVista as just an ArcGIS alternative. The Feature Services integration lets you unlock advanced mapping functionalities and maximizes each platform’s unique strengths by combining the powers of ArcGIS Online with CartoVista. 

If you don’t have the time to go over the entire detailed analysis, here’s a quick score for both platforms across different categories.

Key ConsiderationsArcGIS OnlineCartoVista
Mapping and visualization icons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star
Ease of useicons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star
Storytelling icons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star
Data analysisicons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star
Collaboration and sharing icons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star
Pricing and licensingicons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 staricons8 star