Re: Adding Images to a Story Map from Drive with URL

11-24-2020 12:42 PM
Status: Open
Esri Notable Contributor

Hi @JoshKing1 -- Thanks for posting this question. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, Google Drive and Google Photos are not structured to be services that host static images for use in third party websites, like a StoryMap.

While you can share images stored in these services, the type of sharing that's possible is a specific, controlled experience with its own web page; it's not a simple static URL that links directly to the image file that can be reliably referenced from other web pages.

There are some articles online about how to manually hack together a URL that "works" for this purpose, but that is not a persistent or stable solution that we would be able to successfully implement in a product like ArcGIS StoryMaps. It's possible that our development team could build a direct integration with these services, but this would not be a trivial amount of effort and we'd need to look into the terms of service to see if this would be allowed.

I'll move this post to the ideas board so others can vote for it, and if there are sufficient votes for us to prioritize this request we can spend some more time looking into the feasibility.


Hi @OwenGeo

Thank you for your response and for moving the post to the ideas board.  When images are uploaded to StoryMaps from a computer hard drive, where are they being hosted?  I am just beginning to build my knowledge around this topic and wondered if you could point me in the direction of more typical services that people use to host static images for use in StoryMap.  This could help solve a problem for me when I am building assignments with common images, but it does not solve the problem for my students when they build their own StoryMaps from scratch, as they will acquire a range of images to use.  There are strict district policies around what the students are allowed to access outside of the Google GSuite software, so I am not sure they will have access to any hosting service.  I am assuming that most users in education are at the college level and do not have this Chromebook/Google Drive issue.    

Thank you again, 



@JoshKing1 -- When you drag an image into the story builder the image is uploaded to and hosted with your story in the ArcGIS cloud. This is the recommended way to add images to a story since the builder also compresses and optimizes images for viewing on the web, which provides the best performance when a story is viewed on a range of devices.

While it's possible to link to images from photo hosting services like Flickr, Imgur, etc, those images are not optimized in the same way as uploaded images are. 

It's not yet possible to link directly to an image file hosted on a web server. This can provide a very poor experience for readers (say if an author links to a very large, unoptimized image file). We are looking into this as a possible future enhancement, but we are currently gathering information about the need for this capability and possible ways to avoid common pitfalls that authors might fall into when doing this.

To solve your challenge of having images that are common across assignments, you could upload an image file to your ArcGIS account as an item and link to that image in a story. This comes with some of the same caveats mentioned above where the image is not optimized, so you want to make sure you upload a reasonably sized image if you do this. Also, the image must be shared with everyone to be used in a story (even if the story is not shared with everyone). See this blog for steps on how to do this.


by Anonymous User

Thank you very much and Happy New Year !!!!!!!!!!!


@OwenGeo where specifically are the images (and the descriptions and all the other components) stored? I want to edit and update them in a data driven way from feature classes where the authoritative content  exists. Copy and paste item by item is very time consuming and error prone.


@MattWilkie1 -- The images and data are stored in the StoryMap item, but there's currently no way to update this outside the story builder.

We are working on a few things that might help, though. Can you let me know in which part of the story are you interested in dynamically updating images and information (e.g, map tour, express map, etc.)?


Thanks for responding @OwenGeo. I'm trying to create a story map of campgrounds that resembles the classic Shortlist template using an "as-is" data source. All of the elements to be displayed in the story map already exist in the attribute columns of the source feature class: X/Y location, Title, Short Description, Description, Tab Name, Image URL, Link URL, Symbol Color, etc., etc.

The feature class is built from master tables that also drive other products such as downloadable PDFs built, web pages, and internal operations dashboards and data entry forms. All of these other products are fed through Adobe InDesign, Drupal, PowerBI and so on. (This is the desired future state, we're not there on all fronts.)

In terms of publishing the story maps, the work of the geo analyst should only be designing the story and map elements, not inputting the data.


Got it, thanks for the info. Stay tuned to our updates coming next month as we have some features coming that should be helpful for you...


Oh that's good news. Would that be approx. 2 or 6 weeks from now? The timing will have a big impact on how we go forward.


@MattWilkie1 -- We're targeting mid-Fed.