Editing the configuration of a story map

Using the ArcGIS Online Assistant to edit a story map’s JSON

Many of the articles on the Story Maps Developers’ Corner blog describe how you can modify a story map’s appearance or capabilities by editing the story configuration outside of the story map builder.

This article describes the general process of editing a story’s JSON configuration, the risks involved, and safeguards to minimize the chances that something will go wrong.

Photo by Bart Anestin on Unsplash

And now for the warnings…

Before you forge ahead, be aware there are risks associated with editing your story outside of builder.

Be careful — editing JSON can break your story!

Bad things can happen if you aren’t careful. You can:

  • Completely and irreparably break your story so that it will no longer load
  • Delete and lose links to images, videos, or other web content you’ve added or linked to in your story (although you can’t delete the content itself)
  • Delete and lose the text you’ve written in your story map

Scared yet? It’s ok, this article will walk you through things. If you are careful and follow the tips below editing the JSON can be safe.

Practice Safe Story Editing

Here are some tips for minimizing the risks that something will go wrong:

  1. If you’ve never edited story map JSON before it’s wise to try it a few times on a test story until you’re comfortable with the procedure.
  2. Before you start editing, always copy and save your story’s original JSON in a text file in case something goes wrong.
  3. Always have a plan for what you’re going to edit. The articles on the Dev Corner blog describe specific changes you can make, so unless you know exactly what you are doing it’s recommended that you leave the training wheels on and stay on the path we’ve lead you down.
  4. Be careful not to remove any extra quotes, commas, or brackets — and make sure these always match up when you’re finished. Otherwise, you will invalidate your JSON and won’t be able to save your changes.

How to…

Now that you are ready to edit your story, here are the steps you’ll need to follow.

  1. Go to the ArcGIS Online Assistant and log in with your ArcGIS account.
  2. In the header, click I want to… View an item’s JSON.
  3. Locate the story map you want to edit in the left side bar. You can use the search box at the top to help find your story.
  4. Scroll down to the Data section of the right panel.
  5. Copy the JSON to a text file as a backup. The Copy tool is to the left of the Save button.
  6. Click the pencil icon to start editing the JSON.
  7. Find the parameters you want to change and edit them.
  8. Save your changes.
  9. Refresh your story map to view the changes.
Sample story configuration JSON as viewed with the ArcGIS Online Assistant