Skip navigation
All Places > ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World > Blog > 2018 > December

Wayback provides access to each version of the World Imagery map published since 2014.  While designed to enable users to step backward through the World Imagery timeline, Wayback has recently taken a significant step forward.  Wayback is officially out of beta and now includes World Imagery metadata.

As of December 14, 2018, Wayback includes 89 versions of World Imagery, with metadata now available for each.

What is World Imagery Metadata?

Simply put, metadata is “data that provides information about other data”, or “data about data”. Accordingly, World Imagery metadata provides detailed information and metrics (data) about the input imagery sources (data) that comprise the World Imagery map.

Sometimes a visual inspection of the imagery is all a user needs to select one image source over another. In other cases, a user may need additional information about the individual images that have been compiled, measured, and blended together during the creation and curation of the World Imagery map. The individual images in the map may vary by capture date, available level of detail, and/or how the features (roads, buildings, etc.) are represented with respect to their true location on the ground. The metadata exposes this type of information to support more informed decision making.

It is worth noting that two distinct dates are now presented in Wayback, ‘map publication’ dates and ‘image capture’ dates. As before, Wayback layers have the map publication date embedded in the name. This is the date when a particular version of the World Imagery map was updated and published. The publication date applies collectively to all of the imagery included in a version of the map, but does not indicate the actual vintage of individual images within the map. The age of a particular image can now be determined with the capture date provided in the metadata popup window, displayed when a user points and clicks on a location in the map.


The Wayback app was already a great tool for exploration and discovery of Wayback imagery. With the seamless integration of the metadata, we can easily access all of this additional information about the imagery. Try this: 1) Open the Wayback App 2) Click on the map. Voila, a great looking popup with detailed information about the imagery.



When executing the “export to web map” functionality, the selected image layers, AND the associated metadata layers, are saved to the custom web map.



Outside the app, all of the Wayback metadata is available as individual ArcGIS Online layer items for use in Online, Pro, and custom applications. Search ArcGIS Online from Pro or the Online Map Viewer.  Browse or search the Wayback Imagery group, where you can find each Wayback imagery item along with its associated Wayback metadata item.


More Information

For more information see the following:

This blog was originally posted on the ArcGIS blog site. For more Esri vector basemap blogs, see this page.


Esri Vector Basemaps were recently updated with new data, a new Ocean Reference style and made more localized languages available.


New content added to the Esri Vector Basemap tile set is available across all the styles of our vector tile layers. These updates include data from HERE as well as from our Community Maps Program contributors. The banner image of this blog shows voestalpine steel mill in Austria, a new addition of contributed data to the map. This industrial campus displays trees, parking lots, and other special areas pertinent to this site. Learn more about what data your campus or community can contribute to the platform. Visit this Living Atlas of the World page.

The Living Atlas is also a great place to find the Esri Vector Basemaps. Find the layers and maps directly from the Living Atlas website or search the Living Atlas through ArcGIS Online (left image below) or Pro (right). Narrow your search to vector maps, a sub-category of the basemaps category. Additionally, the Esri Vector Basemaps can be set as the default maps for your basemap gallery. and Pro windows


Ocean reference vector layer

New additions to the suite of Esri Vector Basemap layers and maps are the World Ocean Reference vector layer and Ocean Basemap web map which utilitizes the vector layer. The new vector ocean reference layer has similar content and design as the existing raster ocean reference layer (boundaries and all labels). Because it is vector format, there is the ability to customize not only the content of the layer, but also the appearance of the display. This includes changing boundary line symbolization and font styles (face, color, size). This customization can be made through the editing of the root.json style file of your tile layer or through the ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor app.


World Ocean Reference layer file


Localization of vector basemaps

There are three additional languages available across the vector basemap styles. This brings our current total to twelve languages. Each language localized is available in nine different basemap styles. New are Arabic, Chinese (Hong Kong) and Chinese (Taiwan). These join previously released Modern ChineseFrenchGermanItalianJapanesePolishBrazilian PortugueseRussian, and Spanish. To make localized maps the default basemap, change the organization’s Region and Language in the General settings. Also, change the Map setting to display Esri vector basemaps as the default gallery. Each language above is linked to a group of web maps. Localized labels display primarily at small scales; however, we are expanding translations across more feature classes and at more scales. Additional languages will be deployed in future releases.



Customizing Esri Vector Basemaps

The Esri Tile Layer Style Editor (Beta) provides an easy way to customize vector basemaps. Experiment (& save!) different cartographic styles with this app. Start from an Esri vector basemap or one of your own vector tile layers. Two styling paths exist:


Quick Edit is only configured for Esri vector basemaps. This quick path sorts map features into six high-level categories. Apply random colors for cartographic inspiration, or apply a pre-defined color palette to each category.


Edit Layer Styles works with Esri vector maps and your own styles. It offers more control over each map feature’s spec. Countless options are available to customize your new vector map. Save your new style as a tile layer in your account and use the new style in your web maps and apps. This blog and space on GeoNet offers information about the Style Editor. This recent Esri Webinar showcased the Style Editor. Follow-up questions and answers are at this Living Atlas GeoNet page.


Style Editor for quick edit changes



Have you ever seen a problem with Esri Vector Basemap data that needs to be fixed? Report issues directly on this Feedback Map. Our team reviews your comments and considers the update for one of our frequent releases.