What’s new in ArcGIS StoryMaps (March 2023)

ArcGIS StoryMaps is a professional storytelling tool that enables you to transform your geographic work into interactive content to inform and inspire others. It makes it easy to explain complex topics related to your knowledge and experience. ArcGIS StoryMaps is updated regularly with new features and capabilities, and here’s what’s been added recently:

Collection Description

Collections are a great way to group together a set of stories and related resources. Our team uses collections all the time to create a set of tutorialsgroup stories on similar topics, or bundle stories that are chapters in one longer narrative.

Many authors in the storytelling community have asked for more space to provide descriptive information for a collection. Others have asked for the ability to use links and another formatting. Now, you have more options—and more space—to provide introductory material or context on the overview page when you create a collection. In addition to the title, byline/author name, and summary, there is now a new description field.

The summary is still ideal for providing a short subtitle for your collection, but now the description field is also available for adding a longer introduction or more background about the contents of a collection. In addition to being longer than the summary, the new description can contain formatted text. Now you can include links, lists, and flourishes of colour on the collection overview to communicate your message. To format text, just select it and use the toolbar or use one of the standard keyboard shortcuts (if you need a reminder about how to use these shortcuts, make sure you keep reading…).

This collection has a description so you can see what it looks like in a live example: 2022 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition Winners, and of course, we have a video for you to enjoy, below.https://mediaspace.esri.com/embed/secure/iframe/entryId/1_1yh5s3jg/uiConfId/49028003

The summary and description fields are both optional, but we recommend including a summary for collections you plan to share publicly since that piece of information is shown when your collection is shared on social media sites or when people discover it via web search results. The three main fields on the collection overview page nicely match up with the corresponding ArcGIS item detail fields of the same names (title, summary, and description). When publishing, the description text will be automatically added to the description for your collection’s ArcGIS item details, but you can choose to disable this update in the publish options.

If you haven’t made a collection yet, check out Start Your First ArcGIS StoryMaps Collection or this tutorial to get started.

Accessibility updates

Our team is always working to improve the accessibility of ArcGIS StoryMaps for people both reading and building stories. This month we’re releasing several updates that provide enhanced accessibility for those of you who build stories.

Shortcut Guide

The first accessibility-related update is a new keyboard shortcut guide. Text formatting shortcuts let you do things like quickly adding a heading or list item when typing or inserting a link without touching your mouse. These have been outlined in the documentation, but they’re now always close by in the Help menu (that’s the question mark button in the header at the top of the page) whenever you need a reminder.

The ArcGIS StoryMaps keyboard shortcut guide

Add alternative text to a tour map

This update also came directly from your feedback. We heard from authors who wanted to add alternative text to the map in a map tour, and you can now do this. To ensure your story is accessible for anyone using a screen reader you should consider adding alternative text for all the images, videos, maps, and other media in your story.

With the addition of this feature, there’s a small update in the map toolbar. Configuring the tour map settings is now done via the Edit button (pencil icon) and alt text can be added using the Options button (gear icon). This makes the configuration toolbar for tour maps consistent with how it looks for other maps.

The tour map toolbar has been updated to match the toolbar on other types of maps.

Dropdown menu update

Our development team has reworked the dropdown menu component to enhance keyboard navigation, focus management, and screen reader support. This component is used throughout the builder, and the overall experience of making menu selections is improved for everyone. You may noticed some changes that better indicate the focused and selected items, and it’s easier to navigate through menu items by using the up/down arrow keys.

We have several other accessibility projects that are ongoing, and we’ll provide updates on those as that work is released.

And more…

We also wanted to let you know a few other things: 3D mode for map tours is no longer in beta, we found and squashed a bug that sometimes would cause a story to refuse to open in the builder, and you’ll likely benefit from several other performance and stability fixes that were made this month.

For a complete list of changes and fixes, see the Release notes. And don’t forget to check back later this month, we’ve got another release in two weeks!

Did you know Esri also offers a personal storytelling tool?

If you’d like to publish beautiful stories about your vacations, road trips, weekend adventures, favourite restaurants, family ancestry, and other hobbies, head over to StoryMaps.com to sign up for your free account.

To learn more about StoryMaps.com and ArcGIS StoryMaps, visit Storytelling Solutions for Professional or Personal Use.

Banner image by Anja via Pixabay