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Map temporal data

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Temporal data includes time and date information for geographic locations. If your data contains temporal values (date), you can add a time-aware layer to a map in Excel and run an animation that shows how patterns in the data change over time.


When your data contains time-only fields (as opposed to date/time fields), ArcGIS Maps for Office converts these values to text strings to display them in pop-ups. Because of this, unlike true date/time values, time-only values cannot be used in time animations.

When you enable time animation on a map layer, you use the Time Settings pane to configure the field in your data that contains the time information. You can also configure the animation slider to specify playback speed, time interval, and whether to display cumulative data on the map.

Enable time animation

To enable time animation on a layer, do the following:

  1. Sign in to ArcGIS if you're not already signed in.
  2. Add a layer to the map using data that contains date and time information.

    You can add a layer from Excel or from ArcGIS.

  3. Click More More to display the Layer Options and choose Time animation.

    The Time settings pane opens.

    Time settings pane for selected layer

  4. From the Layer drop-down list, choose the layer you want to animate.

    The Layer drop-down list shows only the time-enabled layers in your map; these can be time-enabled layers added from ArcGIS or layers added from an Excel spreadsheet that contains time and date information. By default, the active layer is the one from which you opened the Time settings pane.

  5. Click the Time animation toggle to On.
  6. From the Time field drop-down list, choose the column that contains the date and time information you want to animate.

    The drop-down list only displays columns that contain temporal data.

  7. Click OK.

    In the Contents pane, a small clock icon appears beside the layer name to indicate that time animation is enabled.

    Time-enabled layer

    The time slider appears on the map, using the default options. You can configure the time slider to change the animation speed and time interval; see Configure the time slider.

    Time slider over map

  8. To turn off time animation on a layer, choose Time animation from Layer Options to display the Time settings pane for the layer. Click the Time animation toggle to Off and click OK.

Configure the time slider

The time slider allows you to animate temporal layers on the map to see how your data changes over time. You can configure the playback speed of time animations, define the time intervals shown, and specify whether to display cumulative data or only data in the current time interval. Time slider configuration options apply to all time-animated layers on a map.

To configure the time slider, do the following:

  1. Click the Configure Configure button in the upper right corner of the time slider.

    The Time Settings pane opens.

    Map time settings options

  2. Move the Playback Speed slider toward Slow or Fast to specify the speed of the animation.

    The default speed is two seconds per time interval.

  3. Enter a numerical value in the Time Interval text box and choose the units for the interval from the drop-down list.

    The units that appear in the drop-down list depend on the time lines in the layer data.

  4. Choose how to display the data:
    • Choose only display the data in the current time interval to show only the data that falls within the current time window. For example, if you have data representing hurricane paths over a 10-year period and you want to show the paths of all hurricanes that occurred within a given year, you would choose this option (and specify 1 year as your time interval). As the map animates, you see the hurricane paths for the first year, the second, the third, and so on. Each year of data displays independently of the other years.
    • Choose cumulatively display all the data to show all the data over time. For example, if you have data representing hurricane paths over a 10-year period and you want to display all the hurricane paths that occurred over the 10-year period in successive years over the previous years, you would choose this option (and specify 1 year as your time interval). As the map animates, you see the yearly hurricane paths cumulatively over 10 years.
  5. Click OK.

Use the time slider

The time slider appears as an animation control overlaid on the map. When you're not interactively working with the time slider, it appears semitransparent so that it doesn't interfere with the map display. When you play the animation or hover over the slider, it appears opaque to better display the available controls.

There are several controls you can use to manipulate a time animation.

Time slider controls
  1. Click the Down arrow to minimize the time slider window. When the window is minimized, click the Up arrow to maximize the time slider window.
  2. Click Play to begin the animation. When the animation is playing, this changes to a Pause button.
  3. Click anywhere on the interval section to move directly to that time period. You can also move the interval handles individually to display a specific time range.
  4. Show the currently displayed time range.
  5. Show the total date and time range in the current layer.
  6. Click Previous to move the animation to the previous time interval.
  7. Click Next to move the animation to the next time interval.
  8. Click Configure to set the Time Settings configuration options for the map.


When you select features on a time-aware layer and run the time animation, only the features visible during a specific time period are visible during the animation.