ArcGIS StoryMaps

Enhance your collections with design options and more

When ArcGIS StoryMaps was rolled out a year and some change ago, collections were amongst the first features to be implemented. Ever since, the ability to gather stories together and present them as a set has been one of StoryMaps’ most popular and most asked-about features.

In the months since, the StoryMaps team has worked tirelessly to continuously improve the collections experience, for both storytellers and readers. This effort has manifested in a number of updates to collections that this article will walk you through below.

If you’re unfamiliar with collections, please check out this blog post that goes in depth on their purpose and functionality, as well as this step-by-step tutorial that covers how to actually put a collection together in ArcGIS StoryMaps.

 

Expanding your collection

A couple of upgrades have made collections bigger than ever—literally. For starters, the types of items you can add to your collection has grown steadily over the past year. In addition to stories, you can also add other ArcGIS apps like Insights pages, Living Atlas content, and images and PDFs that have been uploaded as ArcGIS content.

Additionally, the number of items that it’s possible to place in a collection has doubled from 30 to 60. This makes collections a great way to house and promote content on a weekly basis over the course of a year, like a newsletter or a recurring status update or data tracking. As an example, the StoryMaps team uses a collection for our Weekly Waypoint.

Screenshot of the ArcGIS StoryMaps Weekly Waypoint collection

 

Enhancing your collection

Navigation Options

Introduced in July, 2020, there are presently three options that determine how the readers of your collection can navigate through it, via the navigation bar that appears at the top of the page when any collection is open to one of the items within it. Choose from these options inside the Design panel that’s located in the app header when editing a collection.

 

Here are brief descriptions of each of the three navigation options, with recommendations for when they’re best suited:

Best used for: longer collections, particularly where there isn’t a need for the reader to be able to jump around quickly. For instance, a presentational format where each item is effectively a “slide.”

Best used for: shorter collections that have fairly brief item names, say, a limited series with multiple parts that have generic names, like “Part 1, Part 2,” et cetera, or a monthly publication where the item names correspond to the names of the months.

Best used for: similar cases to tabbed, but where the item names are long enough to appear unwieldy in the limited space of the navigation bar.

 

A screenshot showing an example of the bulleted collection navigation option
An example of a collection using bulleted navigation, with the current story highlighted and another item displaying a tooltip with its title.

 

Edit individual item details

It’s the little things that make a difference, and that holds true for StoryMaps collections. Now, the editor of a collection has the capability to change the name of any item as it appears in the collection overview, as well as to manually select a thumbnail image for the item’s card in the collection overview. These actions can be taken via the Custom item details panel, accessed by clicking the gear icon that appears when hovering over an item in the overview.

 

An item’s custom name will also be reflected in the tabbed navigation layout, making this capability an effective way to cut down on potential word salad in the navigation bar. It’s good to know that editing these details only impacts the item’s appearance within the collection and not the original item itself.

 

Hide a story’s cover

Also amongst the custom item details for a story item is a checkbox for the option of hiding that story’s cover. This feature can come in handy for presentational formats, where there may be live narration or guidance that makes the cover superfluous.

 

Branding your collection

Add a logo

Put your brand out there along with your collection by adding your organization’s logo using the uploader at the bottom of the design panel. The logo will appear above the collection title on the collection overview page. Once your logo has been uploaded, a field will appear in the design panel to add a URL, which makes the logo a clickable link.

 

Theme a collection (coming soon)

One of the latest and greatest features added to ArcGIS StoryMaps is theme builder (beta), a way to concoct your own scheme of background, accent, and text colors, pair an expanded selection of fonts, and more. Storytellers can save themes for future use and will eventually be able to share them across an organization, allowing for a virtually infinite number of combinations that can be used to match a topic, convey a mood, or complement a brand.

Theming a collection isn’t quite ready as of this writing, but it’s in the works and will be possible soon! In the mean time, you’re highly encouraged to start playing with theme builder and building a repository of themes that can be applied to your collections in the near future.

 

Sharing your collection

Get iframe embed code

When it’s time for your collection to be out in the world, you may appreciate the ability to embed it on another website, whether that’s because of an employer’s protocol, or because you have your own proprietary site or blog with lots of traffic already, or for any other reason.

Embedding a collection as it appears in full on another website is super easy to do, thanks to an addition to the header menu of a published collection that enables you to pull an automatically generated, embed-ready iframe code. See this blog post for a detailed guide on how to embed ArcGIS StoryMaps output elsewhere on the web.

A screenshot of a collection embedded in another website

 


As mentioned above, collections remain a huge hit with the storytelling community, and we love seeing the inventive ways in which they’re used. Our goal is to continue enhancing all aspects of the collections experience—more updates are in the pipeline, so stay tuned! Your feedback helps drive our product planning, so please leave any questions or suggestions in the comments of this blog post, or find us on Twitter or GeoNet.

 

Stamp collection photo: Allie (@wordsmithmedia), via Unsplash

About the author

Will is a Content Specialist on the StoryMaps editorial team. A yinzer born and bred, he is an aficionado of two-lane road trips, Minor League Baseball, malt-forward beer, or any combination thereof.

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