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ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World

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NAIP imagery has long been available in ArcGIS Living Atlas as a dynamic image service, enabling image analysis on the 4-band source imagery dating back to 2010. However, for those who wish to leverage the imagery for visualization, the latest NAIP imagery has been optimized for display quality and performance in the form of a new tile layer.


On top of that, the NAIP imagery has been enhanced to provide the best results. See the before and after below:



In addition, the metadata display has been improved, meaning you have instant access to the source, acquisition date, accuracy, resolution and more. All available with a single click. 


For more info see this blog article by Robert Waterman: Fast and Simple NAIP Imagery 

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World provides foundation elevation layers and tools to support analysis and visualization across the ArcGIS platform. These layers get updated quarterly with high resolution elevation data from open sources and community maps program. In a recent release, world elevation layers are updated with bathymetry and a few high-resolution elevation datasets.



This blog article from Rajinder Nagi provides the details: High resolution data updates to Living Atlas World Elevation Layers (July 2020) 

Note:  This blog was originally published on the Esri Blog site.


The Esri vector basemaps were updated this week with new content from our commercial data provider and community contributions. The content below details how you can influence map content and styling. Additionally, we’re sharing details on new and expanded map features. Check in on the Vector Basemaps blogs for related information.

Community Map Editor

Data Contributions and Community Map Editor

The Community Maps Program for Basemaps uses the best available data sources to produce a wide variety of multi-scale, online basemaps. These maps serve as a foundation for almost any GIS task. Provide your organization’s authoritative data to enhance the map. If you don’t have a collection of data layers to provide, but still want to contribute, consider adding content through the Community Maps Editor app. Edit parts of the Esri Community Maps basemap to add detailed features for universities, schools, parks, landmarks, and other special areas of interest.

Vector Style Editor

Style Editor

A key benefit using Esri Vector Basemaps is custom cartographic styling. Through the Vector Tile Style Editor, put a unique touch on your map’s look. The Quick Editor feature single click color changes across the map. Don’t like the results? Click again. Fine tune the map style through layer control changes. Turn features off. Change colors. Replace typefaces. Adjust line widths. These are the tip of what can be done to make your mark on your design. The editor is accessible through this app or from the “change style” icon in the map viewer. See supporting documentation.

Vector Basemap Localization


Esri Vector Basemaps are now available in 24 localized languages. Another expansion in the Localization efforts is the map styles available. Our creative vector styles (Charted Territory, Modern Antique, Nova, etc.) are now included in the language/regional basemap galleries. Refer to this FAQ answer for the list of available languages of the Esri vector basemaps.

Places | Points of Interest


As reported earlier this year, our collection of Beta layers include extended points of interest. We initially included millions of places in the United States using SafeGraph Places as the data source. In this week’s release, we expanded our global reach outside the U.S. Millions more restaurants, stores, businesses, and other POIs are in the map from HERE Places Extract data.We’ll continue to improve the Beta items before a production release.

Esri User Conference 2020

Esri User Conference

This year’s Esri User Conference is a virtual event on July 13 – 16, 2020. Many sessions related to the ArcGIS Living Atlas are available this year. Basemaps, the Style Editor, and Community Maps are a few of the topics covered. The U.C. event also provides an opportunity to connect with Esri cartographers and other staff. Navigate to the Basemap & Community Maps page. We’re part of the Living Atlas and Location & Data Services area. Register today and check us out.

Esri Vector Feedback


Need to make a correction to one of our maps? Our Feedback Services are built for this purpose. Mark up the map and enter the details. We’ll review and publish the edit to the basemaps.

GeoNet Community

GeoNet | The Esri Community

Visit the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World product page on GeoNet. Ask questions, share custom styles, and browse for the information you need!

Air quality impacts us all. 


The air we breathe is full of particles that come from factories, cars, construction sites, and many other sources. These particles can get into our lungs and even our bloodstream to cause serious health issues. Organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NASA provide information about the air we breathe in order to provide a data-driven approach for regulations and guidelines.


ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World contains a wide range of layers, maps, and stories that help communicate what air quality in the US was like in the past, and how it is currently. 



There are many different ways to explore air quality with content from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. A few of those ways are:

  • Current Air Quality
    • Air Quality Index (AQI) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and AirNow
    • "The AQI is divided into six categories. Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. Each category also has a specific color. The color makes it easy for people to quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities." - AirNow
    • Find all EPA layers, maps, and applications in Living Atlas by clicking here.
  • Current PM 2.5 concentrations
    • The OpenAQ Community reports recent PM 2.5 concentrations 
    • Every day activities such as driving, burning coal for electricity, wildfires, running factories, even cooking and cleaning, release particles into the air. Besides being an irritant, small particles of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM2.5) are a health hazard since they can get deep into the respiratory system and damage the delicate tissues.
  • Smoke Forecasts
  • Historical PM 2.5 concentrations


To learn more about air quality in the United States and the content listed above, check out this story map.

This was originally posted to the Esri blog website.


The latest updates to the Esri Vector Basemaps deployed to late last week. New data from our commercial provider HERE, open sources, and community contributors provide refreshed content across all our vector styles. See the Living Atlas of the World for our variety of vector basemap styles. To use vector maps in the basemap gallery, your administrator can set your organization to use default Esri vector basemaps. New organizations get the vector basemap gallery as default.


ArcGis Living Atlas Esri Vector Basemaps

Contribute Content

There are several ways to contribute content to the Esri Vector Basemaps. If you have data to improve the map, your organization can contribute its local, authoritative content through the Community Maps Program. Your data is integrated with data from other providers. It gets published and hosted by Esri as part of ArcGIS Online reference and thematic basemap layers. Want to add detail for a special area of interest? Use our Community Maps Editor. Do you see inaccurate or missing content? Mark up the map in our Feedback Service and tell us what to fix.

Customize Styles

One of the biggest benefits of the Esri Vector Basemaps is the user ability to customize styles. Change colors. Replace fonts. Turn off layers. Even simple changes can make a big impact. Access the Vector Tile Style Editor app from the Change Style icon under any Esri Vector Basemap layer (see image, ArcGIS Online log-in required). The Style Editor app is also accessible from the Esri Developers site. See this documentation page for information on using this app along with additional links. For more involved changes, such as revising disputed boundary lines, see the Reference Document for how to make more involved changes.

Vector Tile Style Editor

Places 2020

Coming attractions in 2020

A few coming attractions for the Esri Vector Basemaps. As noted in this recent blog, we addded places (points of interest) for shops, restaurants, medical facilities, and more in the USA in a set of beta map styles. Wider expansion of places worldwide is also planned. We’re expanding our localization effort with more styles with translated content. To keep up-to-date on these and other changes to the Esri Vector Basemaps, bookmark this collection of blogs.


If you haven’t migrated to vector basemaps, be aware of the Lifecycle updates for our raster basemaps.

This blog was originally published on January 21, 2020 on the Esri ArcGIS Blog web page

by Deane Kensok


Last year at the Esri User Conference, we announced plans to introduce an expanded set of point-of-interest (POI) and other places data into our ArcGIS location services. This includes integration of places data in our maps, geocoding, and directions services. This month, we are releasing (in beta) the first set of this places data in the Esri Vector Basemaps.


With the first update of the Esri Vector Basemaps in 2020 released this month, we now include a “Places” layer that displays the locations of restaurants, stores, businesses, and other POIs. The initial release includes several million places in the United States, using SafeGraph Places as the data source. The Places layer will be available in many of the styles available for the Esri Vector Basemaps, and has first been added to our popular Streets and Imagery Hybrid maps.


New Places Layer in Streets Basemap. Click Image to Explore Map!

New Places layer in the Streets style vector basemap. Click to explore.


The Places layer displays at medium-to-large scales, with increasing numbers of places displayed as you zoom in to the larger scales. The places are symbolized by category (e.g. shop, school, theater, etc.), with unique symbols for over 100 types of places.


Why Now

The Esri basemaps have always included a limited number of POIs, such as transportation stations, but we have limited that because many of our users intend to overlay their own POIs or other point data on our basemaps. With the Esri Vector Basemaps, we now have the option to include a much more comprehensive set of places as a separate layer that can easily be turned on or off in the style. You will be able to choose from various ‘ready-to-use’ styles in which places are displayed by default, and you will be able to customize other styles to display the places layer in your map. You will also be able to filter the categories of places that are included (e.g. select restaurants and cafés) to display just the types of places that are relevant for your map.


Data Updates

One of the challenges of including places in a basemap is that the data is often changing. Businesses open and close each week, or move to new locations. Our partner SafeGraph is keeping up with these changes in various ways to provide the most accurate POI data available for the United States. We are actively updating the places layer in the Esri Vector Basemaps with the latest monthly updates of SafeGraph Places data to ensure we offer the latest data with each basemap release. And, if you see something that is wrong or missing in the places data, you will be able to help fix it using our Community Maps Editor app so it is reviewed and updated in a subsequent release.


What’s Next

The new Places layer will be added to additional basemap styles over the coming weeks. You will be able to find all of the currently available styles in this Places group.


Over the next few months, we will be updating the Places layer to include data for many other countries around the world. At that point, we’ll end the beta release and you’ll be free to use the places in your public maps and apps. These places will also be added to our Geocoding service so that you can also find them in your searches. In the future, the places will be added to our Routing and Directions service so they can be used as landmarks in directions. We’ll keep you updated as new capabilities become available!

blog by Andy Skinner

This blog was originally posted on Oct. 4, 2019 on the Esri ArcGIS Blog site by Andy Skinner. 
It's been replicated here on GeoNet in its entirety.

The Esri Vector Tile Style Editor makes the customizing of vector tile maps a relatively simple process. More so now that the Editor is available through the map viewer. The easiest to work with are base layers like the Canvas Maps. The reduced content and the blank ‘canvas’ provided by the gray palette makes them very adaptable. However, that does not mean that the more complex basemaps are out of reach for restyling.

I’m going to work with the National Geographic Style basemap as an example of this Arguably it has the richest palette of our core basemaps, it has a lot of content, and only part of the information can be restyled. So how do you start with a map like this?  (If you want to jump ahead to the final result, the new map is here).


A bright and intricate map like the National Geographic Style does not lend itself to sweeping change, so don’t be over ambitious when you are planning out what you want to do.  Let the new style evolve, and you might be surprised by the result.

In this example, I’ve decided my starting point is to give the basemap an autumnal feel, then see where the process takes me. I want to make some broad changes to the palette.

Starting out

Raster layers

I need to give myself some room to maneuver. The strong background layer incorporating the water and land colors defines the look of the map at small scales, but it is raster-based, and therefore not customizable. What I can do is use a transparency setting to fade it back. I’ve set it to about 45% of the full saturation.

At larger scales the background is the ‘’World Hillshade’ raster layer, so I’ve made the same adjustment to that to tone it back

Vector layers

Now I can switch to the vector tile layer, which carries the rest of the information. I’ve saved a copy of the original and called it ‘National Geographic Style Autumn’. This IS customizable using the Vector Style Editor.

I need to find some features that will overlay the background so that I can shift the overall color of the map. The Reference Document can help me with that. The basemap has a land polygon limited on the current map to larger scales only. But the reference document (starting on p14) tells me that it is available at levels 0-18. In the Style Editor I can adjust it to the full scale range (it resamples at zoom levels beyond 18).

Similarly, the ‘Marine Area’ layer is available at all of my required scales. These polygons now overlay the background at smaller scales.

Now I can use a combination of color and opacity on the overlying polygons to change the feel of the base. By lowering the opacity level (increasing the transparency), I can set colors that work with the background layer to create the new look. I keep a graphics app alongside my work to try things out (in my case it is Adobe Illustrator), and I’ve used it to calculate these new color values. The results are a bit startling in the Style Editor (right) – yellow and pink! But when set over the muted background (left) they are giving me that Autumnal feel.


The distinctive ‘Tint Band’ effects used along the boundaries on the National Geographic Style map are tricky, because there are many layers to deal with, and on this paler background they need to be less pronounced. I could work out a new palette to suit this map, then use the ‘Edit by Color’ option in the Style Editor to apply the new values, but I decided on a different approach.

Instead I have kept the existing colors and lowered the opacity value on all of the layers (increased the transparency). The new ‘land’ color blends into the adjusted tint bands giving them a much more complementary feel.

Next steps

The overall look of the map is established, but now I need to review the details. This is where much of the time is spent. All of the information, at all zoom levels, needs to be examined to see if it is still working with the new palette. Symbol conflicts must be addressed, but beyond that you may want to make changes for aesthetic reasons.

In this case I’ve decided that boundary lines and roads are okay, but some other features do need to be adjusted. For example, enclosed water polygons (lakes, etc.) are on separate layers, and they need to be changed to match the new aggregated color of the open water areas. I’ve sampled the combined color, captured the value in my graphics app, then applied it to the water polygons.

There are other features at various scales that either require or would look better with some adjustment.

The fun part

Once the basic look is nailed down you can start to play!

One change that can be dramatic is to switch the font treatment. I’ve decided I want a simpler look, so I’ve used Josefina Sans and Josefina Slab (These fonts are available as options in our basemaps). Not all labels need to be switched (I left streets alone for example), but I’ve gone through level by level and changed those that make a significant difference.

I’ve also introduced a ‘fall trees’ pattern for parks and forests at larger scales (See ‘The Basics 5: Sprites’ for more information on how to do this). I’ve used transparency settings to blend them into the solid color at smaller scales.

The result

Here is the link to my final basemap again. I think you’ll agree that it looks very different to the source.

Below are before and after images:

The impactful changes I’ve made in customizing this basemap are limited:

  1. Reducing the strength of the background and the boundary tint bands.
  2. Two color adjustments to affect the overall look.
  3. A change of font.
  4. A new pattern fill.

It’s not all I’ve done – I’ve made a lot of subtle adjustments to the symbolization at all scales, but these four are the ones that define the new basemap (Compare it to the original National Geographic Style basemap and work through the scales if you want to see what the other changes are).

The level of work you want to put into this sort of project is up to you, and even with a map as distinctive as this it doesn’t need much to change its appearance. Be careful though! It’s very easy to underestimate the amount of effort involved in the details, and to lose yourself in them. Depending on how you intend to use it, and how diligent you want to be, the work involved in finishing such a transformation can be as little or as much as you want.

Esri Vector Basemaps Mid-August Status

The latest updates to the Esri Vector Basemaps deployed to last week. New data from our commercial provider, open sources, and community contributors provide refreshed content across all our vector styles. If you missed the announcement at this year’s User Conference, we released a new vector National Geographic Style map along with the Navigation (Dark Mode) map and Watercolour creative style. See the Living Atlas of the World for our variety of vector basemap styles. To get vector maps in the basemap gallery, your administrator can set your organization to use default Esri vector basemaps. National Geographic Style map is expected to be included in the default basemap gallery in the next Online release.

National Geographic Style Map

National Geographic Style map

Navigation Dark Mode

Navigation (Dark Mode)


Watercolour creative style

Community Maps Challenge

Some of the newest content comes from our many participants in the Community Maps Program. There are several ways users can provide information and data to improve our maps. First option is to provide feedback. See a problem – report it on the appropriate map. We have feedback services where you can make notations right on the map. The second way is to share data. Register to become a data steward and submit authoritative feature classes through our Community Maps data prep tools.

Community Maps

The third way is editing features with our Community Maps Editor app. This interactive app allows you to draw the features directly on the map. After our review, they’ll get incorporated into the basemaps. Ideal features to add include special areas of interest and other large scale features for your building complex, campus, school, or park. In fact, our latest Map Challenge is to enhance the most iconic city parks around the world. For more details, see the challenge page to participate.

Community Maps Challenge
Golden Gate Park

Map Challenge: Iconic City Parks | Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Customization Updates

One of the biggest benefits of the Esri Vector Basemaps is the user ability to customize these maps. Changes can be as simple as switching colors, replacing fonts, removing unneeded features, or similar. The change can also be more involved, such as changing the presentation of a disputed boundary lines for a specific world view.


See our Reference Document and Web Map for all the DisputeID codes. These control the dashed boundary line display and alternate naming of select features. Editing your copy of the root.json style file in a text editor is required (e.g. Brackets or Notepad++). One specific change this release expands the options to display boundary lines of the West Bank and Gaza Strip separately.  There is a segment of boundary line at Jerusalem that changed from DisputeID=45 to DisputeID=157. Additionally, the Gaza Strip boundary is now DisputeID=145 (it was also 45).

Esri Vector Tile Style Editor

Another way to customize vector maps is through the Style Editor. It was released as part of the Online Map Viewer update right before the User Conference. Access the app from the Change Style icon under any Esri Vector Basemap layer (icon circled in image). Log-in required. It is also accessible from the Esri Developer’s site. See this documentation page for information on using this app along with additional links.

MapViewer access to VTSE

Access style editor from vector tile layer

Vector Style Editor

See the collection of ArcGIS blogs related to Esri Vector Basemaps.

This post was originally published on the Esri blog.



As the month of June came to a close, we updated our Esri Vector Basemaps tile set. New content was contributed from our commercial, community, and open source data providers. Additionally, three new styles were released: Navigation (Dark Mode), National Geographic Style, and Watercolour. The latter two are described in more detail in their own blogs posted by the cartographer who designed the maps. First,Wes Jones shares info on Watercolour. Next up, Andy Skinner shares info on National Geographic Style.


new Esri Vector Basemaps
New Esri Vector Basemap designs: National Geographic Style and Watercolour

Navigation (Dark Mode)

The newly released Navigation (Dark Mode) is a counterpart to our existing Navigation style vector basemaps. The dark mode map was built with the Esri Tracker App in mind. This provides a basemap for low-light conditions and emphasizing the purpose of the app: asset location tracking. It can also be used in other situations where you want to symbolize your own content on a darker background. This Navigation (Dark Mode) joins our three other dark-focused designs: Streets (Night), Dark Gray Canvas, and Human Geography Dark. Each of these Esri Vector Basemaps have their own unique styling and content specs. They also have their own daytime or lighter-style counterpart.


Navigation Dark Mode Esri Vector Basemaps

New map style: Navigation (Dark Mode) Esri vector basemap


Our OpenStreetMap vector tile set was updated, too. It is built from the Esri-maintained OSM replica database.  Two other OSM-based styles are now available. See this separate blog.

Map Viewer Style Editor

Vector Tile Style Editor

The Esri Vector Tile Style Editor is coming out of Beta. It is available on this Developer site to restyle vector basemaps. With the latest ArcGIS Online update, the vector style editor is accessible from within the Map Viewer of Launch the app from the icon under a vector layer.  See image at left. Do a Quick Edit restyling (one click gets you a completely restyled map) or change more parameters using the in-depth Style by Layer. Your options to redesign the a map are essentially unlimited.


Vector Tile Style Editor for Esri Vector Basemaps


Accessible from the Developer Site or from within the Map Viewer, the Vector Tile Style Editor can create one-of-a-kind custom tile layers.



We’ve expanded our collection of vector basemap styles for those users wanting the WGS84/GCS tiling scheme. The vector maps that utilize a raster base layer (e.g. Imagery Hybrid (WGS84)) are ready-to-use. Web maps include the correct base layers.


WGS84 Esri vector basemaps

Community Maps

The last topic of new updates related to Esri vector basemaps this release. We now offer users this collection called Esri Vector Basemaps (Community Maps). We heard your requests. Include *ALL* the data that communities are providing through the Community Maps Program. This includes community roads and administrative boundary lines. The maps in this group do just that! Now, this version of vector basemap styles: Street, Navigation, Canvas, etc. present the community content — without users saving their own json styles. We’ve done it for you. All these maps include “(Community Maps)” in their title.


Esri Vector Basemaps:  Feedback

Ever see a problem with Esri Vector Basemap data or display? Report issues directly on this Feedback Map. As a result, our team reviews your comments and considers the update for one of our frequent releases.

GeoNet:  the Esri community

Visit the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World product page on GeoNet.  Ask questions, share updates and custom styles, and browse this space for the content you need!

2019 Esri UC

Stop by say, “Hi!” at this year’s User Conference

Finally, if you’re in San Diego for the 2019 Esri User Conference, stop at the Living Atlas Basemaps kiosk.  We’re in the Data & Location Services area of the expo. Get your questions answered from the team of cartographers making the maps. Or just stop by to say, “Hi!”, because we’ll have buttons and stickers to collect. For a selection of Tech Workshops and Demo Theater topics, use keyword vector basemaps in the searchable online UC agenda. Session topics range from adding your data via the Community Maps Editor app to contributing larger amounts of content through the Community Maps Program. Learn best practices for building you own vector tiles in addition to how to find the best basemap for your use. For you creative types, learn how to restyle ready-made vector basemaps from the Living Atlas. There is so much to explore!


Visit Esri's Basemaps kiosk at the UC

This post was originally published on the ArcGIS blog page.


Last summer, we introduced a new OpenStreetMap Vector Basemap.  Since that time, we have made numerous updates to the basemap and improved the integration with ArcGIS Online.  With our update last week, we’ve added new styles and another tile scheme to the OpenStreetMap group.


Esri hosts a live replica of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, which we reference with ArcGIS Pro to build and publish a hosted vector tile layer in ArcGIS Online.  Because it is a vector basemap, Esri and our users can re-style the basemap in many ways. The initial style mimics OSM cartography. We created two more styles built on the OSM data. We created map items in the Esri Street Map style as well as Esri Hybrid Reference style intended for display over imagery.

OSM Esri

OpenStreetMap Vector Tiles hosted by Esri


OSM Esri

OpenStreetMap Vector Tiles hosted by Esri, Cartography matching Esri Street Map


OSM Esri

OpenStreetMap Vector Tiles hosted by Esri, Cartography matching Esri Imagery Hybrid


Vector Tile Style Editor

If you’d like to create your own style, you can do that through the Vector Tile Style Editor!  The Vector Tile Style Editor app supports re-styling the OpenStreetMap basemap through the Quick Edit tools, along with the other Esri basemaps.  You can select the OpenStreetMap style to get started, use the Quick Edit tools to quickly re-style the many layers in the map to make it your own, and then save the custom map to your ArcGIS Online account. The Vector Tile Style Editor can also be accessed through the ArcGIS Online Map Viewer.

Esri Vector Tile Style Editor

Esri Vector Tile Style Editor


As an alternative to the stand-alone style editor app, sign in to and add a vector tile layer to the contents of the Map details panel. Click the icon under the layer to launch the style editor app. The editor is accessible from a vector tile layer within or outside of the basemap.

Map Viewer Style Editor

Style Editor accessible through the Map Viewer



For those looking for WGS84/GCS tiling scheme, we’ve released a separate GCS tile set (OpenStreetMap_GCS_v2) with the same map styles as the OSM in Web Mercator Aux. Sphere:  OSM cartography, Esri Street style, and Esri Hybrid Reference.


OSM Esri

OpenStreetMap Vector Tiles hosted by Esri, GCS varieties


Accessing the Map

The OpenStreetMap vector basemap hosted by Esri is freely available to any user or developer to use in your map or app!  The OpenStreetMap vector basemap hosted by Esri is provided under a Creative Commons by Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license so that it may be used freely, and without transaction limits, in your internal and public facing maps.  You just need to give appropriate credit for use of the map (i.e. “Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Map layer by Esri”) in your work.


The OpenStreetMap vector basemap is available in the ArcGIS Online basemap gallery.  This is the case for anonymous users, new organizations, as well as ArcGIS Online organizations that have configured the Basemap Gallery to use the Esri Default maps and have enabled use of Esri vector basemaps. If your organization has not yet enabled use of Esri vector basemaps, we encourage you to do that now.

Vector gallery basemaps

Default Vector Basemaps in Gallery


You can also access the map through the OpenStreetMap Vector Basemap group.  If you are a developer, or a user embedding the map in a website or story map, we encourage you to use the web map referenced in this group, and also part of the Living Atlas.


GeoNet:  The Esri Community

Finally, ask questions, share updates, and browse the space for the content you need! Visit the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World product page.


GeoNet Product Page: Living Atlas of the World

GeoNet Product Page: Living Atlas of the World

This blog was written by Andy Skinner and was originally posted on the ArcGIS Blog

vector basemap arcgis vector tile style editor


Part of the Esri National Geographic Style map showing the central Mediterranean

The National Geographic Style Map


The National Geographic basemap, first released on in 2012, continues to be a popular map for reference, education, storytelling, and conservation mapping. This release of the new National Geographic Style Basemap builds on that history and completes the transition of Esri basemaps to using vector tiles!

The map retains much of the flavor of the original, including the rich cartography and saturated land colors at smaller scales, with a series of enhancements:



The vector style is now available worldwide at all scales, from global to the very largest of street-level information.

Part of the Esri National Geographic Style map showing part of Central Paris

National Geographic Style map at large scale

The Background

At smaller scales, a new cached base layer has been created, the National Geographic Style Base. It blends our multi-directional hillshade with a specially prepared version of the Esri/USGS Ecophysiographic Land Units Map. More information on the science behind ELUs can be found here. At mid-scales, the ELUs give way to a single tone land color. The hillshade continues into large scale, matching the coverage seen on other basemaps such as Topographic.

Esri National Geographic Style map base

The National Geographic Style map base only

The Vector Tile information.

All other map information is contained in the National Geographic Style, built from the same vector tile data as our other Esri vector basemaps. The sharpness of vector detail is retained regardless of the resolution of the screen and with the help of the Vector Style Editor this detail can be customized by you. Map content is subject to our regular update schedule.

The rich cartography of the original map continues into the vector tile data with the addition of color boundary tint bands, and a selection of distinctive open source fonts.

Part of the Esri National Geographic Style map showing Switzerland

National Geographic Style map showing Switzerland


As with the original, the National Geographic Style has value as a stand-alone reference map, as well as a basemap for your operational data. In the right circumstance it can add some real character to your work.


We hope that you find this vector style as appealing.


Watercolour Map

Posted by robert_green-esristaff Employee Jun 29, 2019

This blog was written by Wes Jones and was originally posted on the ArcGIS Blog.

vector basemap arcgis vector tile style editor


Have you ever felt like you were destined to do something? With this map, I felt a calling. A faint whisper at first. But—surely as a clock ticks—that whisper has grown. For as long as I have enjoyed making maps, I have particularly enjoyed watercolour maps. Easily, a watercolour map would be among my favourite map types. They make me smile, so what more could you ask for?

I am pleased to introduce Watercolour, the newest map in the Esri basemap collection.



Inspiration is magical. I can’t think of anything created in a vacuum. There are too many watercolor map artists to mention, but over the years I’ve tried to take mental notes on their work to build a catalogue of things I liked.

As an aside, I can’t tell you how many great winery and travel maps are painted so beautifully. I am also very drawn to fantasy maps, and the watercolour skill in that genre is phenomenal. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awe-inspiring Stamen watercolor map. It still looks fresh to this day and is one of my favourites. I took inspiration from architectural plans, which are so often painted in watercolour. So are golf course maps. Those are some of my favourite, including one in particular, but I will get back to that later.


This map is made up of 64 painted images. What a task. I loved every minute of it, but it was slow going at first. Because I was gearing up for this map over such a long period, I even took watercolour painting classes to build up my skills. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until I watched my children paint that I found some of the techniques I had been searching for.

Once a colour scheme was chosen, the process went a little quicker. As I said, this map has been on my mind for a long time and is probably my fourth official attempt. Painting the watercolour swatches was great, but making them seamless repeating textures was almost as enjoyable. I spent a long time on this phase, as I wanted them to look right.


I designed almost the entire map in the ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor. It was probably the game changer that I didn’t know I was waiting for. If you haven’t used it, you really should give it a minute. I don’t think I can stress enough how important it was in the creation of this map.


As I mentioned earlier, a certain golf course map has inspired me over the years. It is from the golf course in Osoyoos (pronounced O-soo-yuss), British Columbia. Growing up, I spent all my summers in that town. One day my uncle came up to me, pointed at the golf course map on the wall, and said, “Have you ever looked at that map?” I had, but then he added, “Do you know who the first member of the club was?” I looked through the names on the wall, and there it was—my grandfather. Audrey from the club graciously took a picture for me.

Osoyoos Golf Course
Grandpa Jones

But this story has a point besides nostalgia. Beyond this map’s having extra meaning for me and beyond its being one of my early inspirations, I wanted to show off this golf course in my map. The problem was, the golf course wasn’t in our data. However, that didn’t remain a problem long. I jumped over to the Community Map Editor and digitized the course. Now, if you haven’t used this editor either, it is a game changer too.


Making this map has been a wonderful journey. I’d really like to thank all the teams here at Esri who have helped me along the way—without their help, this would still be just a whisper in my ear. I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I have enjoyed making it and I can’t wait to see how you use it.

To conclude, I want to take you on a tour.

Watercolour World view
Watercolour Europe view
Watercolour Japan view
Watercolour Montenegro
Watercolour Boston
Watercolour Hawaii
Watercolour Manila
Watercolour New Delhi
Watercolour Berlin
Watercolour Oakland
Watercolour Netherlands

And finally…

Watercolour Osoyoos

This blog was originally published by Wes Jones on May 24, 2019, on the ArcGIS blog page.  



As map makers we make maps. However, that doesn’t mean that each map is made from scratch. It is just as often the case that a map is updated, tweaked, or redesigned. I want to share some of my journey redesigning the Navigation Basemap.



There were several reasons why a redesign was in order. Other than needing a freshening up (as all maps need periodically), there were areas identified as needing adjustment to better serve some common use cases. Some of the main concerns were road widths being too thin, the label hierarchy, and some colour selections.



This map is a heavily used map with many different users, so the changes couldn’t be so drastic as to radically change the look.



Any map redesign is nuanced, but I want to look at five things that helped make this redesign more successful and that can be applied to similar projects:


I think this is one of the most important steps: feel gratitude. I was/am very grateful for what came before. The original map was a really nice design, which was a huge bonus. It made the redesign easier in many ways. Even if it hadn’t been, what comes before is one of the pillars for building that which comes after.


The map changes were focused around road widths, label hierarchy, and some colour adjustment. At first glance that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it really is. One change leads to another. By the end of the project, every single feature had been adjusted, and it really is a new map in so many ways.


It is important to have an open dialogue with the parties involved. Listen to their concerns and explain your choices. The more openness, the better a chance of success.


One obvious metric is whether the stakeholders are happy. Another measure of success in this project’s redesign was whether the changes generally went unnoticed by everyone else.


The update process never ends. There are already some tweaks that are needed. In the future, maybe I will have to do a complete redesign again, or maybe someone will have to update what I have done. The point is, it is never-ending journey.



Here is a look at some of the Navigation redesign. The new design is the first image in the following breakdown.

At the smallest scales the changes were very minimal. The colours are a hint more vibrant, and the city label positions were changed.

Navigation New Scale 2
Navigation Old Scale 2

At this scale, some of the focus was on changing the colour balance. It is also a good scale to see how the changes aren’t drastic and are mainly noticeable only in a side-by-side comparison.

Navigation New Scale 4
Navigation Old Scale 4

A goal at this scale was to help the transition and tone down the road density.

Navigation New Scale 6
Navigation Old Scale 6

This was another scale where that same road transition technique was applied.

Navigation New Scale 8
Navigation Old Scale 8

Again, that road transition technique was applied. It hasn’t been mentioned, but at this scale and others, the city labels are larger and darker than on the original map.

Navigation New Scale 9
Navigation Old Scale 9

This scale is a good example to again show how the maps are fairly similar but the new one is a bit more vibrant and the colours are balanced slightly differently.

Navigation New Scale 11
Navigation Old Scale 11

One goal at this scale was to promote the roads slightly more.

Navigation New Scale 12
Navigation Old Scale 12

This scale is a good example of the increased importance placed on street names in the hierarchy. The adjusted symbology also opens the map up too.

Navigation New Scale 13
Navigation Old Scale 13

The map changes the most at the largest scales. The roads start to become much wider, and the labels are much darker and larger. The buildings stand out more too. The colour scheme follows the previous patterns and is brighter and the map moves away from a slightly backgroundy look that is had before.

Navigation New Scale 15
Navigation Old Scale 15

This is the last example and a good illustration that shows how maps evolve. Our maps continue to get more detailed, and greater emphasis is placed on larger and larger scales. The maps have to continue to evolve to better represent those scales and details.

Navigation New Scale 18
Navigation Old Scale 18

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I had a great time. I want to note that the ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor was the tool used to redesign this map. If you haven’t used it, it is totally worth your time!

This blog post was originally posted to the ArcGIS blog page on May 23, 2019.


Since the last blog about Esri Vector Basemaps, we rolled out several data updates in our tile set. These changes include HERE commercial data updates, authoritative Community Maps Program contributions , Community Maps Editor additions of highly detailed “campus” areas, and open data updates. In addition to updated map content, several map styles were improved. The most notable change is in the World Navigation vector tile layer. The updated style allows for better use on mobile devices through Runtime as well as in ArcGIS Online and Pro applications. This separate blog post provides our cartographer’s insight to his Navigation redesign.


Navigation Vector Basemap

Updated Navigation vector basemap style


Basemap Localization:  Turkish

Turkish is our 18th language with localized maps, aside from our global English map. Each language displays in ten basemap styles. For localized language maps in your gallery, change your organization’s Region and Language in the General settings. Set Esri vector basemaps as the default gallery. This option is in the Map settings. More language updates are planned in future releases. Each link directs you to a group of web maps in that language:
Arabic | Chinese (Hong Kong) | Chinese (Taiwan) | Modern Chinese | Czech | Finnish | French| German | Hebrew | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Polish | Brazilian Portuguese | Russian |Spanish | Swedish | Turkish



Other Localization and Customization

Do you want one of your custom-styled Esri vector basemaps to displays a localized language? Our World_Basemap_v2 tile set includes the language data that allows you to do that. See the Esri Vector Basemap Reference Document (v2) for details on how to customize your map to expose translated labels. The reference document includes the list of layers supported and the 2-digit language code you apply to the json. Try starting with one of our existing localized map styles and apply your own cartographic styling.

Additionally, the reference document provides how-to details on customizing Esri vector basemap boundaries and names to show different world views. Boundaries are changeable from disputed to non-disputed. Displaying alternate names for select features is possible with json edits (for example:  The Gulf -or- Persian Gulf -or- Arabian Gulf).


Esri Vector Basemaps Tile Style Editor

Customize the look of your own vector basemaps

In addition to language or geopolitical customization, you can also edit overall cartographic styling. Change the root.json code in a text editor and update your tile layer. Alternately, try the ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor (beta) app for a user-friendly styling experience.  The Quick Editor function changes groups of features on layers en masse.  In contrast, the editor also has an Edit Layer Styles option for a deep dive into individual map specifications. Change style settings for text, sprites, lines, polygons, and point features with the editor app. Use it to edit an Esri vector basemap style or your own vector tile layer created through ArcGIS Pro.

We also have a Customizing Esri’s Vector Basemaps series of story maps. Topics include the Basics, Color, Lines, Labels, and Sprites. These reference tools can help when you’re modifying an existing vector basemap or when you’re creating your own multi-scale vector maps.


The Vector Road Ahead

Stay tuned to this blog page and the vector basemap group for new vector basemap styles available in ArcGIS Online. Some new map styles are being built for specific apps while others  provide unique cartographic presentations of the Esri Vector Basemap tile set.


Esri Vector Basemaps:  Feedback

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

Keith VanGraafeiland co-hosted the recent Esri Spatial Data Webinar: Make Useful Maps and Layer in ArcGIS.

Take a moment to review Keith's recap of the great questions that came in from our audience, available on Keith's latest blog: Make Useful Maps and Layers in ArcGIS.


Thanks for tuning in. 


Next webinar is June 12: Explore Ready-to-use Demographic Data for Location Intelligence