ArcGIS Online

Map in a minute: Create a rotating globe using ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Living Atlas

I remember my first rotating globe very well, my parents bought it for me when I was in elementary school. It was a raised relief globe, with topography and bathymetry you could see and touch. Whenever I learned of events in the news, I’d spin the globe to see where in the world those were happening. I still have it; it’s part of my home office decor that you might see in the background during a Teams or Zoom meeting.

My first globe
View larger image


Make an auto-rotating globe

Scene Viewer is used to author, view, and interact with 3D scenes. ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World includes authoritative live feeds and other global content. 3D Viewer is one of the ArcGIS Instant Apps that lets you showcase a scene using easily configured tools.

Using the above, follow these steps to make your own rotating globe in a minute, maybe less.

Step 1 — Sign in to your ArcGIS account and open Scene Viewer. Choose New scene to begin.

New scene

Step 2 — On the Designer toolbar, click Add layers (+), then click Browse layers.

Add layers to scene

Step 3 — Choose Living Atlas from the Browse layers drop-down.

Browse Living Atlas layers

Step 4 — For this example, we’ll use the Vibrant Basemap, which is actually a tile layer found in Living Atlas. Search for “vibrant” and locate the layer. Click (+) Add to add the layer to your scene.

Add layer to scene

Tip: You can also search for layers at the Living Atlas website. Sign in to your account, then use the Browse tab to search, filter, and find layers to begin creating your scenes.

Step 5 — Since the Vibrant layer covers the entire globe, we can remove the basemap. From the toolbar, click the Basemap tool, then scroll down to the bottom and choose No basemap.

Remove basemap

Tip: Experiment with turning the Sun position by date and time off (it is on by default). This will influence the appearance of the globe.

Daylight sun position setting
View larger image

Step 6 — Save your work and use 3D Viewer, one of the Instant Apps, to create a rotating globe.

aSave the scene.

b – Click Create app

c– Choose Instant Apps.

Save and create an Instant Apps

Step 8 — From the Instant Apps gallery page, choose 3D Viewer.

3D Viewer

Step 9 — In the Create app pane, name your app and optionally add tags, then click Create app.

Create app pane

Step 10 — Enable the Rotate globe tool.

All Instant Apps open in Express setup mode, providing access to essential settings. One of the tools not found in Express mode for 3D Viewer is the Rotate globe tool. To locate and enable it, click Search settings in the configuration panel and enter “rotate,” then choose Rotate globe.

Search for rotate tool

Step 11 – The Rotate globe tool is available in full setup mode. Click Continue to acknowledge that you want to turn off express mode and enter full setup.

For more information, see Express and full setup modes.

Turn off express mode

Step 12 – Enable the Rotate globe tool.

Enable rotate globe

Step 13 – Click Publish when finished. Confirm when prompted, adjust the sharing as desired, then click Launch to view the configured 3D Viewer app.

Technically, in well under a minute, we’ve created an auto-rotating globe app. When the app is opened, the globe will automatically rotate.  Click Pause/Play to stop and resume the rotation.

Open the Vibrant Globe scene to review the steps above, or open the Vibrant Globe 3D Viewer app.

3D Viewer app
Open 3D Viewer app


Improve the scene with a reference layer or 3D labels

With a few additional steps, the scene and rotating globe can be improved using the reference layer or 3D labels found in scene basemaps.

An easy way to add a reference layer or labels is to choose the basemap whose reference layer or 3D place labels you want to use from the Scene Viewer basemap gallery. Below, the Enhanced Contrast basemap has been selected, adding the draped reference layer labels to the scene.

Enhanced Contrast basemap

Note that the Enhanced Contrast Map is not in the default basemap collection. You can add it by creating a custom basemap gallery.

To add 3D Places and Labels, choose one of the 3D basemaps. You can toggle the buildings and trees off for the purposes of creating a rotating globe.

3D Places and Labels from 3D basemap

An alternate way to add a 2D reference layer or 3D labels is to identify the URL of the layer in the source basemap or Living Atlas reference layer and add it to the scene by choosing Add layers, then ArcGIS web service.

Add layer from web service URL


Tips for going further

Rotating globes can be extended and enhanced using a variety of Scene Viewer techniques, Living Atlas and your own content, and a bit of experimentation. Here’s some ideas for doing more.


Sample globe gallery

View sample auto-rotating 3D Viewer apps and associated web scenes in this group. Click View all content to find the scenes used to create the apps.

Open group
Open Globe Viewer group


More information

For more information, see:

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


Next Article

New version of the ArcGIS Pro Performance Assessment Tool (PAT) is now available!

Read this article