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ArcGIS StoryMaps

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Apurva Shah and Alison Sizer writes... 


What is accessibility

Before we dive into what web accessibility means, let’s first understand whataccessibility in general means. Accessibility is the extent to which something is able to be accessed by everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Buildings, public transportation, web applications, or other things we use in our daily lives are accessible if everyone can use these things. For example, most public buildings have ramps or elevators in addition to stairs to provide access to wheelchairs, and many speeches by public figures have a sign language interpreter so people with hearing disabilities can access the spoken content. The end goal is to enable access to all possible things for people with disabilities, not only because it is required by law, but because it is right thing to do.

Continue reading at Building an accessible product | ArcGIS StoryMaps

Embeds are a very flexible block that can be used to add all sorts of content from the web to a story. When you add an embed, the builder does several things behind the scenes to try to optimize the experience for you and your readers.


For many interactive embeds, readers see a “Click anywhere to interact” panel when they pass the mouse over the embed frame. After clicking once, the embed becomes active. This safeguard is there because some types of content can lead to a bad experience if interaction is immediately allowed.

If the embedded content is a mapping application (dashboard, configurable app template, etc), a scrolling web page (like a survey form), or other type of content where scrolling is active, leaving mouse interaction open can lead to a poor experience for readers. For example, have you ever been scrolling through a web page and had your mouse pass over a map? Suddenly you have zoomed the map way out and you've completely lost where the map should have been. That’s the type of thing we’re trying to prevent happening to unsuspecting readers by requiring a click on embeds.


There are, however, embeds that do not scroll where this extra click is not needed. This includes content such as interactive charts, simple dashboard widgets, or hosted media players (like SoundCloud). For these types of content, the extra click is unnecessary or undesirable.


To help address this, we’ve added an option for our power authors that can improve the interaction experience for readers. When you know your web content doesn’t scroll and there's no potential for unwanted interaction, you can add the embed using an iframe and include the following configuration parameter: remove-click-to-interact="true"


So, for example:


<iframe src="[your embed link]" remove-click-to-interact="true"></iframe>


Using this configuration parameter will make your embed immediately clickable when it's viewed on a large screen (on smaller screens / mobile devices you still have the choice to show an alternate image or a card in place of the live embed). When this config option is present, it will also remove the “Open in new tab” button from the top right of the frame. Check out the charts and dashboard widgets near the beginning of this story to see this parameter in action.



If you'd like to know more about using using embeds in your stories and get more tips for refining the experience, check out this article.

We’ve just released a variety of new features and improvements to the StoryMaps builder.


Several of these are things you, our community members, have been asking and patiently waiting for, like:

  • The ability to duplicate a story
  • Story navigation links (think bookmarks in the classic Cascade template)
  • A floating panel layout for sidecar (think Cascade’s immersive experience)
  • Adding video to guided tour


We’ve also added some new themes, styling options for express map annotations, a broader selection of Living Atlas content, and more.


Get an overview of all of the newly added features in this blog post.


Finally, in this release we also resolved a number of bugs that you’ve helped us identify:

  • Map actions are now reversible on small screens
  • Map actions work as expected in duplicated slides
  • Pasting text into map action buttons and headings works as expected
  • The process for using enterprise logins to access private stories has been improved
  • Rich embeds now display live in sidecar narrative panel, where appropriate
  • A situation where autoplay speed would increase after interacting with the story has been addressed
  • Merging and splitting block quotes now behaves as expected
  • Some issues where text or media blocks were not inserted in the correct place have been addressed


Thank you for helping improve the product by sharing your bug reports and feedback with us!


Read Owen Evans What’s new blog post to learn more about all the updates made in our April 2020 release.

Shana Crosson writes... 


"We’ve all become accustomed to having curb cuts in sidewalks. We use them for baby strollers, bikes and generally as a path of least resistance. Curb cuts were designed to make it easier for people who use wheelchairs to get around. Yet, everyone benefits from them.


Making websites accessible is the same!"


Read more at: Writing accessible story map content  

Cooper Thomas writes...


"Like many forms of storytelling, story maps are, in most cases, linear reading experiences. They have a clear narrative structure, rather than an open-ended, choose your own adventure-style selection of paths. But just because story maps are linear doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t include short detours—especially if those detours add value to interested readers.


The January release to ArcGIS StoryMaps introduced a powerful new feature, map actions, which allow you to enrich your stories with optional map interactions."


Read more at: Supercharge your stories with map actions (beta) 

Hannah Wilber writes... 


"First we brought you to sidecar, then we added slideshow into the mix; now my colleagues and I would like to introduce you to the newest immersive block in ArcGIS StoryMaps: guided tour.

Currently in beta, guided tour’s design draws heavily from the original Story Map Tour template, with a few new enhancements that take this reading experience above and beyond its classic predecessor."


Read more at: Now available in ArcGIS StoryMaps: guided tour (beta) 


Follow our story to get a hands-on tutorial of building your first guided tour in ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Michelle Bush writes... 


" Esri has just launched a new user type, Storyteller, which provides access to ArcGIS StoryMaps for just $100 per year. With this new option, you can empower all the storytellers in your organization with the ability to create beautiful, inspiring, digital narratives using your ArcGIS web maps and app content. Here’s what you need to know:"


Read more at: 4 things to know about Esri’s new Storyteller user type 

Mark Harrower writes... "Where stories happen matters. We take the “maps” part of “StoryMaps” very seriously. Geography isn’t merely a passive stage upon which things happen. It shapes our stories. It often explains those stories. Place matters and without it your readers may be missing the whole story. So, even if you’ve never had any cartographic or GIS training, we want you to be able to include maps in your stories—that’s why we created express maps within the ArcGIS StoryMaps builder. "


Read more at: What is an express map and why should you use one? 

Owen Evans writes...


It’s time for another update to ArcGIS StoryMapsHere’s a rundown of new features added this week:

  • Guided tour
  • Map actions
  • Format text with color
  • Fit and fill options for video
  • Narrative panel style options in slideshow
  • Conclude your story with a credits section
  • Publish a story privately or share it to a group
  • …and much more!


Read more at: What’s new in ArcGIS StoryMaps (January 2020) 

Toggle your map legend on or off


Some maps display a variety of data, so your readers will need a legend to make sense of what’s what. Other maps, meanwhile, are nice and straightforward, and it can be nice to hide the map legend in these instances to reduce visual clutter.


Turning a legend on our off is the same whether you’re configuring a web map, 3D scene, or an express map. Start by opening the map designer and navigating to the Settings tab of the side panel. There, you’ll see a switch to show or hide the legend; simply toggle it on or off depending on your map needs. Your map will update instantly to reflect this change.


Add your logo to the header of your story


Branding can be an important element of a polished story map, and nothing more clearly shows off your brand than a logo. If you want, you can have your logo appear in the header of your story, right next to the title, so it’s always visible as readers scroll through your narrative.


To do this, enter the builder for your story and click Design in the header. At the bottom of the design panel you’ll find the option to upload a logo; click the + and select your desired image. Once it’s uploaded, you’ll see it appear in the top corner of your story. You’ll also see additional fields appear at the bottom of the design panel—use these to add alternative text for your logo and to link it to a website of your choosing.



Link to a specific item in a collection


Collections are useful for bundling together related stories and other ArcGIS apps. You can share links with your audience that send them to the collection overview (where they’ll see a gallery of cards for each item available to them) or to the presentation view (where they’ll see items one-by-one as full-page interactives). The general presentation view link will always open to the first item in the collection. If, however, you’d like to point readers to a specific item, you can also generate a link that will open the presentation view on that app or story.


There are two ways you can generate this link. The first is by navigating to the collection overview, clicking on the card of the item to which you want to direct your readers, and simply copying the URL from your browser once the presentation view loads.


You’ll notice that this link includes /present, indicating that you’re pointing to the presentation view of a collection. It also includes ?item=n, where n is the number of the item in that collection. So, if you want a bit of a shortcut for linking to a specific collection item—let’s say the fourth item, for example—simply grab the collection link and add /present?item=4 to the end of the URL (or whatever number applies to your desired item).


If you’re not sure of the item’s number in the collection, simply open the presentation view, navigate to your item of choice, and you’ll see the specific item number in the header alongside the total number of items in the collection.


Add alternative text to media



Making your content accessible is an important part of authoring inclusive stories. That’s why we’ve designed StoryMaps to meet common accessibility standards. We’ve also included features to help authors cater to individuals using assistive technology like screen readers. Alternative text is one of these features—you should use it to describe any functional media in your story so that those with visual impairments can still follow along.


Adding alternative text to any piece of media is simple. Just open the Properties panel for that piece of content (you may need to hover over it to reveal the media toolbar) and the field to enter your description is front and center. Click Save when you’re done and you’re good to go.


Reorder numbered points in an express map

Say you have an express map with five numbered points representing places you visited on your latest vacation.

You added the points for each place in the order in which you visited them, but now you’ve changed your mind and want the numbers to serve as a ranking for enjoyment at each destination. Don’t panic, there’s no need to delete your points and start over. In the Map layers tab of the map designer’s side panel you’ll see your points listed with point one at the top and point five at the bottom. To reorder your list, click and drag the point name for each place, dropping them into your preferred sequence. The numbers for each point on your map will update as you make changes in the side panel, and all that pop-up information you already added for each point is preserved just as you had it.


Change an express map's basemap


The style of express maps is automatically synced with your story’s theme, so you can always be confident that they’ll harmonize with the rest of your content. But did you know you can choose from a few different basemaps when creating one of these simple maps? Each theme comes with two vector basemaps that fit your theme’s aesthetic, plus the satellite imagery basemap for instances where your readers need a literal bird’s eye view.


To change your map’s basemap, open the map designer and navigate to the Settings tab on the side panel. There you’ll find your three basemap options—just pick whichever one best suits your needs and click Place map to save your changes.