Story Maps

Picasa and Google+: What story map authors need to know

UPDATE: This post was originally published in May 2016. It was revised in Sept 2016 and Dec 2018 with new information.

In the first half of 2019, Google plans to retire both the Picasa Web Album API and Google+. These services were used by the Esri Story Maps builders to enable authors to create stories using publicly shared images stored in Google accounts.
Because these services are shutting down, the ability to add images from Picasa or Google+ was removed from all Story Map Builders in the December 2018 release of ArcGIS OnlineRead on for more information about how this may affect your existing stories and your choices for adding images to future stories you may create.

Will stories that already have images stored in a Google account be affected?

Story maps store links to images once they are added, so images in existing stories should continue to work even after these Google APIs are shut down. We’ll continue to monitor this situation and update this article if things change in the future.
Since these Google services are being shut down, it’s possible that sometime in the future the links to the images may become invalid. If you have stories with images in Google accounts that are still being used by you or others we recommend that you upload your images via the builder to ensure they will still be available for the long term.

Where is the best place for me to store images I want to use in a story map?

All Story Map Builders let you upload images directly to your story. When you upload images they are stored with your story item in ArcGIS Online or on your ArcGIS Enterprise portal. This is the best and easiest option since you don’t use a separate service to host your images. The uploaded images are also optimized for viewing on the web when you add them through a Story Map Builder, and the images are always shared the same way as the story, so your readers will never have issues accessing images.
If you already have photos stored in Flickr, the Story Map Builders provide a way for you to use these in a story. Another option is to store images on your own web server or cloud file storage. To do this you need to link to each image from the Story Map Builder using the image’s URL. However, it’s important to know these storage methods are not optimized for serving images and require separate security/permissions management so using them may negatively impact the experience for your readers.

What about Google Photos?

The instructions for adding images from Google Photos via Google+ that were available in this blog article have been removed since Google+ is being retired so that workflow can no longer be supported in Story Map Builders.
Google is recommending app developers migrate to the Google Photos API as a replacement for the retired Picasa Web Albums API. The Story Maps team is evaluating interest in and suitability of Google Photos integration for future releases of Story Maps. If you have a need to use images from Google Photos in story maps, please drop us a note on GeoNet to let us know more about how and why you’d like the Story Map Builders to support this.

More information

About the author

Owen is the Lead Product Engineer on the StoryMaps team and works out of the Esri R&D Center in Washington, DC. He has been with Esri since 2004, and before joining the StoryMaps team spent 11 years as a solution engineer on Esri's National Government team.

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