Shortlist Story Map Customize Labelling Descriptions Caption Text Formatting

11-01-2018 01:07 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor

Hello ESRI,

I have a problem that could easily be fixed if there was a Shortlist feature that allowed you to customize a description template for every event/item in the Story Map.

I have 45 events and do not want to edit these by hand.

I know there is a way to do this with HTML code, but I'm not a programmer. Moreover my boss says to do this it would force the company to host the Story Map on their server which they don't want to do.

This would not be as a big a problem if this was a one-time created map. But this Story Map is intended to be updated with an automated spreadsheet, and so in the future new events will be added. Someone would have to edit the Shortlist every time the spreadsheet was updated.

Please help me and the countless others who will face this problem in the future, by making a new labelling feature.

Image of descriptions without labelling:

Descriptions/ information below the image

Image of descriptions with desired labelling:

correct labelling

I asked this question on stack exhange and received an answer:

labeling - Automating ArcGIS Online Shortlist Story Map description customization? - Geographic Info... 

I appreciate you taking the time to review this. Thank you.


Hi Elizabeth,

This is a good idea. But to avoid having to make a form/panel editor that could become quite complicated, we took the approach of just accepting whatever the author assembles. Here's how you can do this now. It requires a bit of HTML tagging:

- Create an Excel spreadsheet containing all the underlying fields you want to use. Base it on the Shortlist data schema you can download from here: Esri Story Maps - FAQ . For example if you want every place in your Shortlist to have some italic text with the photographers name, add a field in which you store the photographer's name. Use the Excel CONCATENATE formula to define the Description fields (i.e. DESC1, DESC2) by combining the underlying fields with HTML tags in quotes. So the CONCATENATE string for the DESC1 field would include the HTML tags for making something italic and the name of the field that has the photographers' names.

- Save the Excel spreadsheet as a CSV file and add that file into a web map.

- Share that web map as a Shortlist. When the Shortlist Builder prompts you, choose the 'As-is' workflow. In this workflow, the Shortlist content is driven from a layer in a web map and reflects any updates you make to that web map.Esri Story Maps - FAQ . Save your Shortlist. In as 'as-is' Shortlist you can define a few things in the Shortlist Builder, like the header color, but you can't edit the places at all: instead you manage your places via the web map. So it is all automatic instead of requiring manual updates.

- Your Shortlist is now driven from the data in the layer in your map. If you want to make any updates, you can edit your Excel spreadsheet (say to add new records or tabs). and then save it as a CSV file again and upload it again into that same web map, deleting the existing layer too. Your Shortlist will now reflect your updated data.

Here's an example Excel spreadsheet set up like this: 

It contains the data I use in this Shortlist: Great Places of America which is a collaboration do with the American Planning Association. This has some HTML formatting for each place that, like you say above, I definitely don't want to have to manually add in via the Shortlist Builder. This is an 'as-is' Shortlist driven by this web map, 

which simply contains a CSV upload of that spreadsheet. If you look at the popups in that web map you can see the HTML formatting in the attributes that I defined in the spreadsheet.

I do the upload again every year when the APA announces the new awardees. 

In that spreadsheet I've color coded the fields so you can see what is going on.

White fields and light green fields are used by Shortlist and simply contain the data. 

Light blue fields contain data referenced by the formulas in the dark blue fields. So the name of the photographer is a light blue field. After saving out the spreadsheet as a CSV file, the light blue fields can be deleted from the CSV file because they are no longer needed, but there's no need to do that because Shortlist just ignores any fields that are not part of the schema it expects. 


Dark blue fields are used by Shortlist and are populated by formulas that combine light blue fields together, with HTML formatting too as required. When you save the spreadsheet as a CSV the returned values of those formulas are automatically written in the CSV file. For example the light blue fields Place_Name, City and State_ab get concatenated into the Name field. My dark blue Desc4 and Desc5 fields are the ones that concatenate several light blue fields together and combine them with the HTML formatting I want.

Another nice thing about this approach is that if I change my mind about the formatting in each panel, or the client would like it to be changed or new fields added, I can just modify those formulas in the Excel file once (in the first line, and then use Excel fill-down to update all the records), and then easily update the Shortlist. I definitely don't want to hand edit the layout of the 245 places in this Shortlist.

Note that you don't need to use Excel for this workflow. You could also generate the same dataset from inside ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro by using field calculations to do the same concatenation. If you aren't sure how to do that, you could ask them someone on the GIS team who is familiar with that to set up the dataset for you (at least that's what I would do because I've not done field calcs for years ). This workflow does provide some ways to automate the generation of the data to get it into the correct format to drive a Shortlist and make it look the way you want it to look. For example a script could be written to take a GIS layer and publish it for use in a web map with all the fields and HTML formatting set up as required. This would then drive an 'as-is' Shortlist. Note that Shortlist has problems digesting data from ArcGIS Enterprise Server in 'as-is' mode, so I don't recommend trying that.

Hope that helps.



Hello Rupert,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query. I appreciate it.

However, my internship employer at the National Guard doesn't want to have to publish this web mapping application through the organization's server. So, I'm pretty sure this means that I cannot do HTML formatting.

Thank s again, your Great Places of America Shortlist example actually helped me understand this concept better.