ArcMap is the main component of Esri's ArcGIS suite of geospatial processing programs, and is used primarily to view, edit, create, and analyze geospatial data. ArcMap allows the user to explore data within a data set, symbolize features accordingly, and create maps.
ArcMap users can create and manipulate data sets to include a variety of information. For example, the maps produced in ArcMap generally include features such as north arrows, scale bars, titles, legends, etc. The software package includes a style-set of these features.
The ArcGIS suite is available at three license levels: Basic, Standard, or Advanced (formerly ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo). Each step up in the license provides the user with more extensions that allow a variety of querying to be performed on a data set. ArcInfo is the highest level of licensing, and allows the user to use such extensions as 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and the Geostatistical Analyst.
Maps created and saved within ArcMap will create a file on the hard drive with an .mxd extension. Once an .mxd file is opened in ArcMap, the user can display a variety of information, as long as it exists within the data set. At this time the user will create an entirely new map output and use the customization and design features to create a unique product. Upon completion of the map, ArcMap has the ability to save, print, and export files to PDF.
The geographic information that is loaded into ArcMap can be viewed in two ways: data view and layout view.
In data view, the user can interact with the geographic information presented, and the map elements are hidden from view. Most projects begin in this view, and continue to the layout view for final editing and production. While in the layout view, the user can incorporate a number of useful features such as scale bars and legends. These elements are crucial to map-making, and provide clients with appropriate reference information.
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See also 
- ST-Links PgMap
- Geographic information systems software
- Comparison of geographic information systems software
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