Working with and Customizing Esri Vector Basemaps: The Basics

Updated August 27th, 2018:  An update to this blog and the linked Story Maps can be found here. The update includes information on working with the ArcGIS Vector Style Editor released in Beta in May 2018. More information on that can be found here.

Vector Tile Layers can be used to create multi-scale maps that are efficient, high-resolution and customizable.¬†Esri’s Living Atlas Content Team has created vector tile versions of most of our traditional basemaps (plus some new ones), and these work well in themselves.

But have you ever had that moment where you thought ‘This basemap would work really well, if only …’?

These links take you to a sequence of story maps that introduce the mechanics of customization – using our basemaps as a starting point to build something perfectly suited for your work.

Pt 1: Starting

Pt 2: Colors

Pt 3: Lines

Pt 4: Labels

It assumes that you have zero knowledge of working in this environment (editing JSON code), but even if you do know your way around a block of code, it will help you to understand how our maps are structured.

About the author

Andy is a Cartographic Designer who has been working with Esri in Redlands for 12 years, most recently on the creation of some of Esri's vector basemaps, and the development of color ramps for ArcGIS Online. Prior to Esri, he was Manager of Cartographic Design at Rand McNally, and before that a Senior Cartographer at GeoSystems/MapQuest. He is originally from England, and worked for a number of years at what is now the University of Derby before moving to the USA. Andy can be contacted at:

Next Article

Map in a minute: Map volcanic activity using ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Living Atlas

Read this article