Using Story Map Journal Story Actions

A Story Map Journal is an ideal choice when you want to combine narrative text with maps, media, and other embedded content to tell a story. A Map Journal contains entries, or sections, that viewers scroll through. Each section is composed of a main stage and an accompanying side panel.

Maps or other featured media are placed on the main stage, with side panel content complementing what is presented there.

Story actions can be configured via the side panel to interact with the main stage. Story actions can interact with a map on the main stage to zoom, toggle a layer, display a pop-up, or any combination of these. Actions can also display a new map, image, video, web page, or even open another application (or Story Map). And actions can also be used to create links to sections

Using story actions for interacting with the map

After you’ve added a map to the main stage (see the Story Map Journal Tutorial), you can add story actions to the side panel that interact with the map. Story actions are driven from text links in the side panel. Links can be applied to any text in the side panel, including captions under images.

For actions that interact with the current main stage map, (1) Select the text you want to use (this enables the main stage action button), then (2) click to Change the Main Stage content.

In Change The Main Stage Content, you can (a) change the current location of the map, (b) change layer visibility, and (c) open a pop-up.

Story actions can be used individually, or combined. For example, you can configure a story action that zooms to a specific location in the current map. Or you can configure a story action that zooms to a specific location in the current map, and also opens a pop-up window.

Change map location
To change the map location, click Custom Configuration:

The map will appear, and you can pan, zoom, or enter an address to reposition the map. When finished, click Save Map Location:

When the story action link is clicked, the map zooms to your saved extent. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which returns the map to previous settings.

Change layer visibility
To change layer visibility, in the Content section click Custom configuration:

Check the boxes on or off for the layers that you want to display, then click Save Map Content:

When the story action link is clicked, layer visibility will change as toggled. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which returns the map to the previous settings.

Open a pop-up
To open a feature pop-up in the map, in the Popup section click Custom configuration:

Click a feature to open its pop-up. With the pop-up open, click Save

When the story action link is clicked, the pop-up will open. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which closes the pop-up and returns the map to the previous settings.

Using story actions for switching main stage content 

You can also use story actions to change the main stage content entirely. For example, you can switch from the current map to display a new map, or a video, image or web page. Or you can switch from an image to display a new image, or a map, video, or web page. In each case, a Back button will appear after the action that will return the main stage back to its previous settings.

For all actions that change what is shown on the main stage, (1) Select the text you want to use (this enables the main stage action button), then (2) click to Change the Main Stage content.

In Change The Main Stage Content, you can switch to a different (a) map, (b) image, (c) video, or (d) web page.

Display a map
Click Map to show the options for (a) selecting a different map, (b) creating a new map, or (c) editing the existing map.

Note: when editing the existing map, the original map will be overwritten. Changes may impact other edits and actions you have made elsewhere in the Story Map Journal, and may impact other applications or workflows the original map supports.

When the story action link is clicked, the specified map will open. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which returns the main stage to the previous settings.

Display an image
Click Image to show the options for selecting an image from Flickr, Facebook, Picassa, or a URL. Adding images from Flickr will require entering a username, adding images from Facebook and Picasa will require logging in to an existing account.

After selecting the image, choose the Position for the image. The default is Fill, but test other options to ensure best results.

When the story action link is clicked, the specified image will open. A Back button appears at the top of the image, which returns the main stage to the previous settings.

Display a video
Click Video to show the options for selecting a video from YouTube, Vimeo, or a link to a video source.

When adding a video from YouTube or Vimeo, after copying and pasting the URL click Check to ensure the URL is correct, then click Select this video to add it to your story map.

After selecting the video, choose the Position for the video. The default is Fill, but test other options to ensure best results.

When the story action link is clicked, the specified video will open. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which returns the main stage to the previous settings.

Display a web page
Click Web page to show the options for adding a Web page to the main stage. Copy and paste the web page URL, then click Configure. Optionally you can add the embed code for the page.

Next, choose the Position for the Web page. For most web pages, especially responsive pages, Fill is the best option. Test to ensure the Position option you’ve chosen is the best choice.

When the story action link is clicked, the specified Web page will open. A Back button appears at the top of the map, which returns the main stage to the previous settings.

Display an application
You can display another application, including another Story Map, on the main stage. Follow the steps for Displaying a Web page, but instead of inserting a Web page URL, copy and paste the URL to the application.

Using story actions to add links to sections

Story actions can also be used to create links from text in the side or floating panel that will jump to a specific section. This can be useful if you want to create a table of contents, or otherwise want to provide the ability to quickly navigate to a specific section.

For details on using actions to create links to sections, see Adding links to sections in Story Map Journal.

Summary

Story actions offer lots of creative possibilities and options, but just like seasoning on a great steak, they’re best added in small, focused amounts. Rather than loading a lot of story actions into a single section, think about limiting the main stage actions to just the one or two essential ones necessary to tell your story in each section.

For more information see:

This post was originally published on December 18, 2015, and has been updated.

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Leave a Reply

6 Comments

  1. mattcsimon says:

    This is a great post and helped me to understand how to easily toggle layers on and off! It looks like the functionality you describe above is unique to the map journal though and not available in the side accordion or tabbed apps, is that correct? Basically I’m wondering if there is a way to toggle those layers the same way as you describe (selecting the text and creating a ‘hyperlink’ action based on the custom configuration and toggling layers on and off) in the Side Accordion map story.

  2. bkent says:

    When adding an image as a story map action, can I change the default gray gradient background of the main stage to a different color?…say white, for example, so that it looks like the image is filling the main stage even if it isn’t.

  3. mmolter says:

    When I use the story map action in a Story Map Journal template to display a second AGOL map within the main frame, it does not display the legend for the 2nd map. Is it possible for the legend of the 2nd map (the map that is linked with the story action) to be displayed?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I just tested this myself. When you first create a main stage action to change the map, you can specify a legend. If you go back and edit the main stage action and switch to a new map, you cannot. I’ve logged it to be corrected. In the meanwhile you can just add a new section, specify the legend for the main stage action of changing the map, then reorder the new section into the appropriate place, and delete the old section.