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  • Writer's pictureMark Gallant

Looking back at classic Esri Story Maps

PGA Tour 2016: Winning with Instagram
Story Map Journal: Floating Panel

Now that classic Esri Story Maps have entered mature support, the gallery will no longer feature applications made with the following templates: Story Map Tour, Story Map Journal, Story Map Cascade, and Story Map Series. However, these applications will remain accessible via the group on ArcGIS Online for as long as they continue to function properly in a modern web browser.

These templates were used for some of the most popular apps shown on this website and helped inspire many storymappers to create their own along the way. A few honourable mentions would be Seinfeld: A Map About Nothing, The Open Championship: Host Courses, and Making Waves: The History of Ska, which earned an Esri Story Maps Competition award in 2015. Off to The Races: NASCAR’s Biggest Tracks was the first app to get widespread exposure with over 30,000 views and was even featured on FOX Sports.

A variety of classic story maps
A variety of classic story maps

A choice template: Story Map Journal

The most versatile template had to be the Story Map Journal. It had the ability to both present an enormous amount of map-based content with many scrolling panes, or just a single map with one pane. The simple split-screen design allowed users to read text and view a map at the same time, and with map action text, even zoom to a location or call upon a map pop-up. On mobile screens, it elegantly stacked the text panel and map panel behind one another with a button for the user to flip between the two.

The template even featured two appearance modes: fixed or floating. Each text panel also contained a source code editor, so builders could paste in formatted html snippets. The possibilities with this template were truly endless.

Story Map Journal: Fixed Panel
Story Map Journal: Fixed Panel

Embedding media

Many of the classic templates allowed builders to embed media from external websites using iframes. This was a great way to include some video or audio clips for giving users better context about a location they were viewing on a map. This ability could even be leveraged within map pop-ups if you had URLs within your attribute data. As more and more shareable content began to dominate the web over the years, I even had success embedding tweets and Instagram posts directly within classic app templates as well as map pop-ups.

With the new map viewer on ArcGIS Online and the new templates available, this ability is no longer available. There are instances where video or audio can be brought into an app, but not via an iframe pulling in content from an external website.

Emedding tweets within map pop-ups
Emedding tweets within map pop-ups

One of a kind

The classic templates were far less streamlined in their appearance compared to the newer, all-in-one story map builder application. This allowed for more diversity in the sheer amount of story maps out there. It was always interesting to see how an organization or website decided to use a template for a given subject. Plus, given all the options to customize the look and feel, builders ended up making so many stories that were truly one of a kind.

Given that technology moves on over time, and as standards on the web evolve, the new story maps that are being made will be to leverage modern templates and builders to achieve their goals. However, when looking back at the apps of years gone by, it can be inspiring to see just how unique each one was.

Story Map Cascade
Story Map Cascade


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