ArcGIS Pro

Steal this "Sampler" style for ArcGIS Pro please

When I was five years old my mother patiently taught me how to cross-stitch. It was slow going and I remember having to back-track plenty of stitches along the way. I made this, as my first lesson.

I was a pretty shy kid, and rarely participated in my kindergarten class’ show and tell sessions, but I was so proud of this rainbow and mustered the nerve to bring it in. I remember it pretty clearly. When it was my turn I fished it from my pocket and told the class, probably mostly inaudibly, about how cross-stitch is like coloring but you draw with a needle and string by making little “x”es. When it was time for questions, a kid raised his hand and I pointed to him. He told the class, “only girls sew.” Some of the kids chuckled. I returned to my seat and the rainbow went right back into the pocket.

It makes my cheeks burn just thinking about that all these years later. Wish I’d been a braver kid. Oh well.

Maybe mom was a little disappointed I never wanted to do any more. I don’t know. She was a textile artist and spun thread and wove it. When we were kids and that equipment slowly moved into the garage she shifted over to cross-stitch. Here’s a map of our home state of Michigan she made that hung on our walls growing up, and still hangs in my dad’s house. It’s one of those objects that someone we miss has invested a little spark of themselves into. And I appreciate it for that.

In any case, I’ve always marveled at the thread-work of folks out there—Bettina Matzkuhn and Edie Punt, and more recently Rachel Brackenridge. Over the years I’ve thought about trying to make a cross-stitch style for ArcGIS Pro, so maps can be gridded charmingly as cross-crossed brightly colored thread. A handful of folks have even asked about it. I put it off because I wanted to do right by it, for surprisingly personal reasons. But my experience with the Lego Map style gave me confidence that a cross-stitch style was doable.

And here it is!

Steal this “Sampler” style for ArcGIS Pro please

Here’s a look at some Sampler samples…

So be braver than I was. Make some cross-stitch stuff and be proud of it!

Happy Cross-Stitch Mapping, John

P.S. If you like that hoop stretcher graphic, you can have it. Just add it to your layout on top of your map. Or, if you are exceptionally proud of your stitched map, then you can frame it, with this frame overlay graphic.

Mega P.S. If you want a 1-minute primer on how to install a style in Pro, then here you go. And here’s another 1-minute video showing you how to apply dynamic data-driven color to your threads.

About the author

I have far too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, hopefully driving product strategy and engaging users. I work in the ArcGIS Living Atlas team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways and then sharing the process. I also design user experiences for maps and apps. When I'm not doing those things, I'm chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens, and generally getting into other ad-hoc adventures. Life is good. You might also like these Styles for ArcGIS Pro:


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Alex Friant
Alex Friant

This quarantine has set your game up to new levels. This is amazing! I’m honestly impressed.

Adam Nicinski
Adam Nicinski

John NelsonJohn Nelson: I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Very professional, informative and appealing ArcGIS Pro – based maps! Right man in right place! Congrats!

Cash Eddy
Cash Eddy

John Nelson: This is super awesome. Thanks for all of your hard work and creative innovations that you bring & share with everyone.

Meg Wieger
Meg Wieger

John, I think it’s safe to say your mother would be so proud of you for many reasons – this one just adds to the pile. I’ve shared this with my class @ JHU and many are raving about it. Kudos!!

Rogerio Madeira
Rogerio Madeira

I really liked this style. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

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