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Choose basemap

A basemap provides a background of geographical context for the content you want to display in a map. When you create a new map, you can choose which basemap you want to use. You can change the basemap of the current map at any time by using the basemap gallery or using your own layer as the basemap. You can also create a basemap containing multiple layers from the Contents pane in Map Viewer.

Select basemap from the gallery

The basemap gallery includes a variety of choices, including topography, imagery, and streets.

  1. Verify that you are signed in and, if you want to save changes, that you have privileges to create content.
  2. Open Map Viewer and click Basemap.
  3. Click the thumbnail of the basemap you want to use in your map.
  4. View information about a basemap in the gallery by first adding it to your map.
    1. Click Details and click Show Content.
    2. Click the basemap name, click More Options More Options, and click Description.
  5. Click Save to save the new basemap to the map.

Use your own basemap

In addition to the basemap gallery, you can also use your own basemap by searching for an existing layer or adding a layer from the web. You can use basemaps from ArcGIS Server layers, OGC layers, and tile layers. When you use your own basemap, your map uses the projection of that basemap instead of Web Mercator, the projection of Map Viewer.

Note:

If you do not have privileges to create content, you can still use your own basemap to explore data by clicking Modify Map.

  1. Verify that you are signed in, open the map in Map Viewer, and click Add.
  2. To search for an existing layer to use as a basemap, choose Search for Layers.
    1. Enter keywords in the Find field.
    2. Choose where you want to search for layers.
    3. Click Go.

      A list of layers appears that relate to the keywords you entered.

    4. Click the title of the layer you want as your basemap.
    5. Choose Use as Basemap in the pop-up that appears.
    6. Click Done Adding Layers to close the Search for layers to add window.
  3. To add a layer from the web as your basemap, choose Add Layer from Web.
    1. Choose the type of data the layer references.
    2. Enter the layer's web address in the URL field.
    3. Click Go.

      When Map Viewer finds the layer, its name appears in the results.

    4. Check the Use as Basemap box.

If your organization has a custom basemap gallery and you have the correct privileges, you can include your basemap in the gallery.

Create a multilayer basemap

You can create a multilayer basemap using operational layers in your map. Operational layers are the layers that you interact with and that draw on top of the basemap. By moving operational layers into the basemap layer group in the Contents pane, you can create a basemap with multiple layers. This is useful when you have two or more layers that you want to use together as a background, or context, for your map—for example, if you have a base imagery layer and want to add a map image layer that includes reference labels on top of it, or if you want to combine multiple base layers, such as a hillshade imagery layer with a topographic map image layer. See an example

The following types of layers can be included in a multilayer basemap:

  • Imagery
  • Map image
  • Tile
  • Vector tile
  • WMS OGC
  • WMTS OGC
  • Bing
  • OpenStreetMap

Once you have moved layers to the basemap layer group, you can move them up or down in the group, specify a layer to be used as a reference layer, and move a layer out of the basemap layer group. After creating your multilayer basemap, you can rename any of the layers, including the basemap layer group title, and save the basemap. Multilayer basemaps can be used in your organization's basemap gallery.

  1. Verify that you are signed in and, if you want to save changes, that you have privileges to create content.
  2. Do one of the following in Map Viewer:
    • Create a new map and add the layers you want to include in your basemap.
    • Open an existing map containing layers you want to include in your basemap.
  3. Browse to a layer that you want to move to the basemap and do the following:
    1. Modify the layer as needed. Depending on the layer type, modifications may include configuring pop-ups, changing the style, and so on. Any changes you make will persist when you move the layer to the basemap.
    2. Click More Options More Options and click Move to Basemap Move to Basemap.
  4. Repeat the previous step for each layer you want to include in the multilayer basemap.
  5. Do any of the following as needed by selecting the appropriate option from the layer's More Options More Options menu:
    • To specify a layer in the basemap to be used as a reference layer (for example, a layer containing place-names), select Set as Reference Layer Set as Reference Layer. Reference layers always draw on top of all other layers in the map and appear at the top of the basemap layer group in the Contents pane. They typically include labels indicating transportation routes, place-names, and other reference features. If you change your mind later, click Remove as Reference Layer Remove as Reference Layer to make the layer a nonreference basemap layer.
    • To move a layer out of the basemap, select Move from Basemap Move from Basemap. The layer is moved out of the basemap layer group and back into the operational layer section of the Contents pane.
      Note:

      The bottommost basemap layer can only be moved out of the basemap layer group if the basemap layer group contains another basemap layer of the same type. For example, you can move a tile basemap layer only if the basemap layer group contains another tile layer.

    • To move a layer up or down in the basemap layer group, select Move up or Move down.
      Note:

      Basemap layers in a multilayer basemap can only be reordered if the basemap layer group contains at least two tile layers, two nontile layers, or two reference layers. Reference layers cannot be moved below nonreference layers.

    • To rename the basemap layer group title or any of the basemap layers, select Rename. Type a new name in the box and click OK.
  6. Click Save to save your multilayer basemap. You must be signed in and have privileges to create content.

Basemap considerations

  • Map Viewer can't display layers in a map without a working basemap because the basemap establishes the coordinate system of the map. Once you save a map with a basemap, Map Viewer only uses that basemap; it doesn't revert to a default basemap if yours is unavailable. You can repair your map by using a different basemap as long as the spatial reference of the bad and new basemap are the same. Repair your map by selecting a different basemap or using the URL parameter basemapURL.
  • When you use your own basemap, some of the zoom levels may be missing. This occurs because the map displays the zoom levels of the current basemap, for example, the World Topographic basemap. To see the additional zoom levels in the basemap you've added, save your map, close the Map Viewer page (for example, go to the Gallery), and reopen the map. The additional zoom levels appear.
  • If your OGC WMS layer uses a projection other than Web Mercator, the projection of the default World Topographic basemap, Map Viewer attempts to use a compatible basemap. If your layer is in GCS WGS84, Map Viewer uses the GCS WGS84 World Imagery basemap. If your OGC layer is in a coordinate system other than Web Mercator or GCS WGS84, your layer is used as the basemap. You can use a different basemap as long as it is compatible with your layer's projection. If a basemap in the gallery is not compatible, Map Viewer will not add it to your map; instead, you will see an error message letting you know your layer is not compatible with the basemap's coordinate system.
  • When you add an OGC WMS layer to your map, you may get an error that the layer's coordinate system doesn't align with that of the basemap. This error message usually appears if you have added layers to your map and add an OGC (WMS) layer that isn't in Web Mercator, the projection of the basemaps in the Map Viewer gallery. Create a new map and add your OGC (WMS) layer first. If your layer is in GCS WGS84, Map Viewer uses the GCS WGS84 World Imagery basemap. If your OGC layer is in a coordinate system other than Web Mercator or GCS WGS84, your layer is used as the basemap. Now you can add additional layers.
  • After creating a multilayer basemap, if you then choose a basemap from the gallery or add a basemap by adding layers from the web, searching for layers, or choosing a basemap from the Living Atlas gallery, your multilayer basemap is replaced by the new basemap and any layers included in the multilayer basemap are removed from the map.