Map Tour story map template updates

(With contributions by Greg L’Azou, story maps developer).  With the July 2013 ArcGIS Online release the popular Map Tour story map template also received a major update, with new features and capabilities for both public and organizational account users.

About the Map Tour

The map tour is a popular template, and is used to power story maps such as San Diego Transportation Innovations, Palm Springs Map Tour, Highlights of the RijnhavenExplore Qatar Hotels, and many more.

The map tour template is hosted on ArcGIS Online, and is also available to download from the template gallery. While you can publish your tour from your own servers, the ArcGIS Online hosted tour offers the additional benefit of being updated automatically, so we recommend using the hosted template.

New Map Tour capabilities

The hosted map tour now offers several different options for adding photos to your tour. First save your map, click Share to make it available publicly or within your organization, then click Make a Web Application.

You’ll currently find Map Tour on the second template page in the Make a Web Application gallery:

When you first configure the application the Map Tour Builder will assist you in adding photos, and you can choose from several different options and sources:

The updated Map Tour provides lots of options for adding photos to your tour. You can connect to a Flickr, Facebook, or Picasa account to access already hosted photos. If the photos are geotagged they will be placed on your map automatically, or you can place them interactively. You can also reference hosted photos using a CSV file that also contains the lat/long coordinates of their locations.

If you want to host your photos in ArcGIS Online, choose the ArcGIS Online Hosted Feature Service option. This option is only available via an ArcGIS Online subscription, and requires Publisher or Administrator privilege to create the feature service. Photos will be automatically sized for both main display and thumbnails, and will be stored as attachments in the feature service.

Upgrading self-hosted map tours

If you’ve previously used the map tour template and hosted it from your own servers, you can update to the ArcGIS Online hosted tour by opening your existing web map, choosing Share, then Make a Web Application, and choosing Publish with the new Map Tour template. The interactive builder will let you customize the application colors and the header logo.

If you’d like to customize the template further, the template source and documentation is available at GitHub. Download the template, modify the source to suit your needs, and host it from your own servers.

Note: For existing map tours, if your map tour layer does not contain the field that defines the point marker color, the interactive builder will require you to choose a field. Any existing field can be used, but if you choose an existing field and change the color using the builder, the field contents will be overwritten. If your tour layer does not have a color field, it’s recommended that you drop the layer from your web map and import the original CSV using the assistant, and the color field will be added automatically.

For more information see:

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Leave a Reply


  1. raj_philly says:

    Hello Bern! Thank you for the blog. This inspired me to create my own story map. I have a question. Can users or people looking at the story map can comment on the story map? If yes, can you please point me to the right direction on where I can find the information to get this functionality in my story map? Thank you in advance.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      A viewer can’t place comments directly on your story map, however they can comment on your story map item if you have comments enabled. The ability for users to add comments is enabled by the organization administrator, and applies to all items in the organization.

  2. celadon88 says:

    Hi Bern, I was really excited to create my first Story Map, however towards the end of the creation process, I am having trouble loading images from my Flickr account where I have an album full of photos onto my “Short List” Story Map. The second tab I created allowed me to load the first marker with an image and a description, then I deleted my second and third marker because when I clicked on the second marker, the third marker appears on the screen. I think it is because the first marker and second marker shared the same address. Fast forward to now, a week later and I still cannot go back and add the second and third marker in my second tab. Can you help? Thanks!

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      This sounds complicated enough that we should take it off-post and handle differently. Send me details via email to along with a link to your Short List if possible. Since the new ShortList is still in beta, I’ll bring in other team members as needed to understand your issue.

  3. alapetina says:


    My students are trying to use the Shortlist Storymap App to create storymaps arguing why Detroit is a great city. Unfortunately, locations are being found when searched for, but not added consistently. For example, the address for the Charles H. Wright Museum, 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 shows up as an address, but cannot be found when added. Thanks for the assistance!

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I’ll need a little more detail about your problem. You can send directly to By default the shortlist (and other story maps) use the same geocoder as your web map. I geocoded the address you provided above using both the web map and the Shortlist, and came up with the exact same location.