Monthly Archives: April 2013

ANZMapS and Story Maps from ArcGIS for Desktop

ANZMapS_logoAs much as I would have liked to attend the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Conference in Canberra last week, I decided instead to attend for two days and present at the ANZMapS Conference in Melbourne at the end of the previous week.  It was a decision I did not regret because I found it to be an event full of interesting presentations and attended by a very welcome and enthusiastic society of mainly cartographers.

SLIGHT_James SLIGHT_William_(c1830-1887)

My presentation was primarily about my great-great-great-grandfather William Slight (pictured at left) who was highly regarded as an engraver of maps in Victoria during the period from 1855-1887.  Upon his death in 1887, his eldest son James Slight (1855-1930; pictured at right) succeeded him as Chief Engraver and Draughtsman for the Crown Lands Department of Victoria.  James (better known as Jim) was an all rounder who also played for Australia in the first Test Cricket match on English soil in 1880 after having umpired the first inter-colonial Australian Rules football match between South Australia and Victoria in 1879.

I had hoped to tell their tale using an Online Story Map but in the end decided on a different approach.  One of my main requirements was to be able to use William Slight’s best known map called Continental Australia (see below) as a basemap.  I purchased a high resolution image of the map from the National Library of Australia and it was easy to georeference using ArcGIS for Desktop.  However, to make it available as a basemap in the map viewer or ArcGIS Explorer Online would have required me to publish it to ArcGIS for Server for which I do not have licensing.  Consequently, I opted to do my presentation using ArcGIS for Desktop alone.


To move between slides I used a Python Add-in to add a toolbar with 26 buttons (one for each “slide”).  With these I was able to step through various extents from Scotland, England, Australia, USA and Colombia and turn layers and labels on and off according to my narrative with one click per “slide”.  I used HTML popups to examine photos and documents like marriage certificates, death notices, a will, and newspaper articles along the way.

I would not advocate ArcGIS for Desktop for more than a subset of story maps, but if you have a license (perhaps ArcGIS for Home Use) and some intermediate Python skills, not every story map needs to be online.