Quick Step Guide: Storytelling Map Tour

Map Tours are an easy and interesting way to combine text, media (photos and videos), and and their geographic locations using an interactive map. Map Tours can be authored and published by anyone with an ArcGIS account – whether you’re a public account holder or a member of an ArcGIS organization.

Map Tours can inform, educate, entertain, and inspire people about a wide variety of topics. You’ll find many examples at the Esri Storytelling with Maps website such as Palm Springs Map Tour, A walk on the High Line, and Treasures of Redlands.

Before you start

To make a Map Tour story map, first organize the media (photos or videos) that you want to use and place them in publicly accessible location such as Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, or another online sharing and storage solution.

Optionally if you have an ArcGIS organizational account and have either Administrator or Publisher privileges, you can import your local photos to your ArcGIS Online account. Note that this creates a feature service (with photos as attachments), and will consume account credits.

You’ll also need to know where on the map you want to place your photos and videos. You can place media interactively using the Map Tour builder, or can use a CSV file with the locations to create your map for the tour.

Follow the steps below to create your Map Tour. For more information view the Map Tour description.

Start the Map Tour builder and sign in to your ArcGIS account. You can use a public or organizational account.

Choose the location of your media from the available options.

Your images or videos must be hosted at an online location such as Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, or YouTube.

If you have an organizational account with either Administrator or Publisher privileges, you can also upload your photos to ArcGIS Online.

Follow the steps for your choice above. Depending on where you’ve stored your photos this may require signing in, selecting folders, and making other choices. When finished click Import.

Choose the photos you want to locate and click the map to place them. Geotagged media will be automatically placed on the map. To adjust the location, click and drag to a new location. When finished click Import.

Make additional changes using the map tour builder. You can change the title, subtitle, layout, basemap, order of the locations, and more.

When finished click Save.

Click Share to make your map tour publicly accessible, or share it only within your organization (requires an organizational account).

Copy and paste the URL to share it with others.

You can also view the details of your saved map tour, and can edit its description, change the thumbnail, add tags, and more. To make changes to your tour click Switch to builder mode after signing in, or after opening the map tour from your account.

For more information

For more information visit the Storytelling with Maps website or view the Map Tour description.

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  1. c.emery says:

    Nice Quick Guide! You write: “Geotagged media will be automatically placed on the map”. If you don’t have the chance to have a GPS Photo Camera, I made good experiments with stand-alone Windows executable “ExifTool by Phil Harvey” (http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/) using a .bat File to edit Meta Information:

    exiftool -GPSLongitudeRef=”E” -GPSLongitude=”8.746567″ image1.jpg
    exiftool -GPSLatitudeRef=”N” -GPSLatitude=”47.128177″ image1.jpg

    My Winter “Storytelling Map Tour” > http://bit.ly/15Zwsll
    Best Regards, Chris

  2. jekkster says:


    I’ve been asking ESRI when they will start spending time making this sort of app available to those of us who for one reason or another do not want/ or can not use ArcGIS Online? I have ArcGIS Server and would like to create my own story telling map, hosted internally, but the templates that are available to download will not work (maybe unless you have some advanced programming skills) without using ArcGIS Online.. Seems like ESRI focuses on what will make them more money and control of data…. please stop pushing everyone onto your cloud. As a consultant, my clients will not allow me to push data to any third party…

    thanks and please consider this…

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Jeff – I appreciate your comments. One of the reasons that an ArcGIS Online web map is used is because that makes it easy to assume that everything needed for the story map is good to go – a nicely authored web map, configured pop-ups, title, subtitle, etc. The map tour is one of the few story maps that you can get by with using just a basemap, but most/all others rely on a properly authored web map with a good pop-up experience, etc. So a web map is a building block element for story maps, and other configurable app templates. As you know, it’s a lot easier to just author a web map properly and plug it into a template, than write all the code needed to do all that yourself.

      If you (or your client) do have ArcGIS Server you can leverage the “on-premise” version of ArcGIS Online – Portal for ArcGIS. It’s an extension to ArcGIS for Server Advanced for both workgroup and enterprise editions. It is bundled with Server, though licensed based on user accounts, but with ArcGIS Desktop you have user accounts already. So you could author your web maps using Portal, and use it in the Map Tour or other template hosted within your Portal.

      To be clear, Esri is not interested in “control of data.” The data is always yours.

      • wpgis5673 says:

        I think what Jeff is saying is that he does not want to be forced into the cloud. I am of the same opinion. The permitting status app can be configured to run locally so why not any other app? There really is only one answer. I will leave readers to ponder what that might be.

        • Bern Szukalski says:

          You can download the full application source code and host it from your own server. You do need a web map for the app to work since that is where tour locations are stored, they’d need to be stored somewhere…

  3. harleyp says:

    I am in the process of building a story map based on my families NZ summer holiday (road trip around the South Island of NZ). Many of the photos are GPS tagged (via my Samsung S4). I load these into Flickr and the meta data comes into Flickr fine. However, when I load them into the story map (using the builder), the GPS is lost. I have checked that the settings in Flickr are as required. Any ideas?