Basemaps Just Got Even More Awesome (and Geeky) With The New ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor!

Something new, cool, and pretty exciting for GIS professionals who want to make amazing maps. We can’t guarantee that you’ll be replacing John Nelson at Esri any time soon, however, you will be on your way to maybe giving him a run for his money! Enter the new ArcGIS Vector Tile Style Editor.

vector tile style editor

According to the Devs from Esri who authored this blog post, “Whether you are a developer, designer, or a GIS professional, this tool gives you a fast and easy way to create a custom basemap style that matches your brand and the type of app that you are building.”

To better understand things we may want to step back a couple of years to understand Vector Tile Basemaps a little better. Simply put, vector tiles support dynamic, interactive cartography that can be customized and personalized. It was back in 2015 when Andrew Turner of Esri first announced that ArcGIS would be supporting vector tile basemaps (See this fine article) and since then Esri has rolled out some great enhancements that have enable GIS professionals and map makers to do some amazing things!  This from Andrew Turner, “Vector tiles have been adopted by some major consumer devices and mapping platforms over the past few years, building on standards that were pioneered by open data communities such as OpenStreetMap and Mapnik. Most recently the team at Mapbox developed an open specification for vector tiles that has become a community supported standard.”

Fast forward to May, 2018 and we are greeted by news of the new vector tile style editor (Beta). To get started all you need to do is select an existing basemap, like my favorite, the World dark grey canvas basemap and then start customizing the layer properties like colors and labels, patterns, transparency settings,  and zoom level visibility. Below we share a fun, GEO Jobe themed Basemap created with the Style Editor.

geo jobe vector tile map style

A GEO Jobe color themed vector tile basemap

Testing the Style Editor

So, let’s take it for a quick spin. Getting started is Easy. For this test I jumped to

  • Clicked the “Get Started” button’
  • Used the editor to manipulate the style settings accordingly – see below
  • EASY!!

Browse a large number of basemap styles

Select a style

Edit the basemap styles and save!

To start customizing a basemap sign into the ArcGIS for Developers website and click “New Basemap Style”. There are also new ArcGIS DevLabs for styling a vector tile basemap and displaying a styled vector basemap in your application. 

Thanks to Alan, John, and Patrick for the tips! Have you created an amazing vector tile basemap? Please tell us about it, we’d love to see it!

Create your own Custom Vector Tile Basemap HERE

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.