Getting the most out of your customized storytelling app — part 1

We love when developers customize Esri’s Storytelling Apps; however, we’ve noticed that most custom apps seem to be used only for a single story. If you brand an app with colors, logos, and design elements of your organization’s visual identity wouldn’t it be great to reuse that work for other stories as well?

For example, the National Parks Service created a custom version of the Story Map Tour app and used it to highlight the many community conservation assistance projects NPS supports. Clicking on a state or territory from this page launches the NPS’s custom map tour app showing projects in that locale.

NPS’s custom version of the Story Map Tour application showing a story about projects in Colorado.

This rest of this post describes how to reuse a branded version of a storytelling app to get the most out of the effort you put into customizing it.

Deploy once — use many times

If you’ve deployed a customized app on your own server, you might think that to use it for other stories you’d need to create copies of the app and paste application IDs into each copy’s index.html, but there’s an easier way…

You simply need to edit the authorizedOwners property in the index.html file to add the ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS user names of the members whose stories you want to be able to view using your version of the app. If the list of story map authors in your organization is small you can simply list them, like this:

authorizedOwners: [“author1”, “author2”, “author3”]

In larger organizations listing individual authors may be cumbersome, so you can specify your organization ID (enclosed in brackets) to authorize your customized app to show stories from anyone in your organization, for example:

authorizedOwners: [“[a1b2c3d4e5f6g7h8]”]

The comments in the index.html tell you how to find your organization ID.

index.html that authorizes stories owned by any member of an organization to be viewed.

Once you configure the authorizedOwners property you can use the appID URL parameter to display any story created by an authorized owner like this:

http://myserver.com/MyCustomApp/index.html?appid=123456789abcdefghijklmn123456789

Create stories using your customized app

You can also share your customized app using a link that launches it in Builder mode. Simply append the parameter ?fromScratch to the end of the URL:

http://myserver.com/MyCustomApp/index.html?fromScratch

When someone visits this link they will be prompted to log in with their ArcGIS account, and — if they are specified as an authorized owner — the app will launch in Builder mode. The story they build will be saved in their My Content as a new web mapping application item, and the URL will point to the customized version of the app that you are hosting.

Authors can bookmark this Builder link to keep it handy, but other ideas for making it easily accessible are to:

  • Add an item to your organization’s configurable apps gallery. For more information on this read part 2.
  • Create a web application item and add it to your featured content. Be sure to use a good title, thumbnail, and summary to explain the item well. (Note, this item will not work as expected if you add it to your organizations custom template gallery.)
  • Add it as a link on your internal mapping resources website or other intranet resources page.
  • Add it as a link from your ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS home page description area.