How to make a time-aware Story Map

A new ArcGIS Online configurable app was released in July 2015 that provides an updated experience for sharing time-enabled maps. The Time Aware app looks and works great on its own, but it also provides a way to add time-enabled maps to your Story Maps. Read on to find out how to create a Time Aware app and embed it in a Story Map Journal or Story Map Series.

Step 1: Create a web map with a time-enabled layer

You’ll need to start by making or finding a map that has at least one layer with temporal data like this web map of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If you are new to time-enabled layers you can learn more about publishing and configuring time on layers.

Once you add a layer with time you’ll see a time slider at the bottom of the map that controls how the time data is displayed.

Click the Configure  button on the time slider, click Show advanced options, and configure the time span and time display for the map. These settings control the overall extent of time shown by the slider and the time window shown on the map (learn more about configuring time settings in a map).

When the map layers and time settings are configured, Save the map.

Step 2: Share the map using the Time Aware app

Click Share, choose who can see your map, click Create A Web App, and click Create under the new Time Aware configurable app from the app gallery.

If you don’t see this app, or you see a Time Aware app labeled “retired,” your administrator may have a custom app gallery configured for your organization. Contact the admin and ask him or her to add the current default Esri apps to your organization’s app gallery. This can be done by going to My Organization > Edit Settings > Map > Web App Templates and checking the box to Share the Esri default web application templates to this group when you click Save.

If the app is available, you’ll see something like this once you finish creating the app.

Step 3: Configure the Time Aware app

Now you’ll use the configuration panel to adjust how your Time Aware app looks and behaves. The configuration panel should be visible when you first create the app, but you can always access it by going to the app’s item page and clicking Configure App.

When embedding the Time Aware app in a Story Map it’s best to turn off Show Title, Display about dialog, and Display share dialog in the General settings. If you uncheck these three settings the header bar will be removed, which works best for embedding this app in a Story Map.

The default dark grey theme pairs well with most Story Maps, but you can choose different theme colors for the legend and time slider if you like. There are also configuration panel sections to tweak the Time Display, Map Tools, and Search options for the app.

Once you’re done configuring, don’t forget to Save your configuration changes.

There are many other configuration options for you to explore including some useful Time Settings that control how the time slider appears and works in your app. See this blog for more information about using the Time Aware configurable app.

Step 4: Embed the Time Aware app into your Story Map

Finally, copy the URL of your Time Aware app and add it to your Story Map Journal, Series, or Cascade as a web page as described in this blog post. Make sure to copy the URL of the app when the configuration panel is not open, or copy it from the Properties section of the app’s item page.

Here is a simple example of a Time Aware app in a Map Journal.

Finally, be sure to avoid configuring the description panel for a tabbed or bulleted Story Map Series on the right side if your Time Aware app’s legend is visible.

For more information

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Leave a Reply


  1. conabio_sig says:

    Hi Owen,

    thank you for this article!

    Is the Map-Series example you mention in step 4, locked?



  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Owen,

    I have a question for you related to time-aware mapping in ArcGIS Online. I’m trying to create a time aware map of population data for the Great Migration with data for 12 or so cities for 1910, 1920, 1930, up to 1970. Each city has a single time field for the given year (so there are seven separate entries per city) and on the back end I have my layer properties in ArcMap set to each feature has a single time field, the time field is YEAR with the field format YYYY and the time step interval is 1.00 decades with the extent set to 1910 to 1970.

    When I publish this layer as a service and open it in Arc Online I enable the time settings and it recognizes that I have specific events in time and that the field is YEAR, yet when I open the data table, my year field has gone from 1910 to 12/31/1909; 1920 to 12/31/1919 etc.

    Any thoughts on why it is doing this or how I can fix it? Any help would be much appreciated!


    • Owen Evans says:

      When you create a feature service the year is converted to a full date. I believe it shows as 12/31 because it assumes Jan 1 if there’s no date and there’s a offset between your time zone and UTC that pushes it back a day (to the previous year in your case).

      Try entering Jan 2 as a date for all the years (1/2/09, 1/2/1919, etc.) and republish. Then when you get the feature service added to a web map you can adjust the time display format to only display the year (layer menu > Configure Pop-ups > Configure Attributes).

      Hope this helps!

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Owen,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply! Sorry for the delay in response – it took me a bit before I could revisit this map and work on it! I did try something similar to what you recommended, but I found in order for the correct years to show in the slider and for there to be no overlap when viewing the data – I changed the first year (1910) for all the cities to 1/2/1910 and then for all the subsequent cities I did 12/31/1920, 12/31/1930, 12/31/1940 etc.

        Then I configured the pop-ups to show just the year. Here is a link to the map:

        Thanks Again!

  3. dunhams says:

    I am having trouble with getting the link to embed the Time Aware App into my Story Map series. I copy the link and paste it into the web link area, configure it and then nothing loads. Any idea what could be causing that?
    Thank you!!

    • Owen Evans says:

      It could be that your Time Aware app or its map isn’t shared. It also could be an http/https issue. Make sure that you are using an https URL for the Time Aware app if your story map is being accessed over https.

      • Kristin says:

        I’m having a similar issue. I embedded the URL into my story map journal and it works fine for me when I look at it while editing or when i click “view story”. However, I had my project partner look at the story map and she cannot view the time aware app. It comes up as a gray screen on her end. All other maps work fine. I checked the layer to be sure it is shared publicly and also the app is shared in the organization. Still nothing. Anything else I can check?

        • Owen Evans says:

          Hi Kristin — Sorry about your issue. You mentioned you checked that the layer and the app are shared, is the web map also shared?

          • Kristin says:

            Yes. Everything is shared to public.

          • Kristin says:

            I can see that my time app is http and my story map is https. You mention that might cause a problem. How would I go about fixing that?

          • Owen Evans says:

            Kristin — Make sure that if you are accessing your main story over https that you used https for the URL of your embedded app. If you are accessing the main story over http then the embedded app can use either http or https. Hope this solves your issue, but if you have more questions I’d recommend that you please use GeoNet, which is Esri’s public help and support community, or logging an issue with Esri Technical Support.

  4. sheebaashraf102 says:

    Hi Owen,
    Thanks for this article.
    I have a question I want to create a time aware feature layer
    I have a set of polygons (some places) I want to check how the geometry of the polygon changes within decades.
    Data stored pattern:
    In year 2001(say) all the polygon are stored but in initial state , further years only polygon with any change in geometry are stored.
    If I execute it only polygon which are changed are visible which is obvious but my requirement is to get both unchanged and chaned
    Do I need to replicate all the polygons which are not changed.
    Is there any concept to get/link data from archieve
    Please provide inputs

  5. adiehl says:

    I am having trouble with this part:

    When embedding the Time Aware app in a Story Map it’s best to turn off Show Title, Display about dialog, and Display share dialog in the General settings. If you uncheck these three settings the header bar will be removed, which works best for embedding this app in a Story Map.

    I cannot find these settings.

  6. kmayj0681 says:

    Aloha everyone,

    I had a problem that many others had- when logged in I could see the app but from a separate browser it would not load in my story map where I embedded it. I tried to share settings first, then tried playing with the http vs https. It turned out to be that one of my original maps’ layers wasn’t shared. I finally tracked down this sound advice that fixed it for me:
    “Check that all the components in your story shared properly. If you want to share your story publicly, for example, then all its layers, maps, and apps must also be shared publicly. This includes layers and maps used in an embedded app or story map.”