Set layer properties

When working with layers in ArcGIS Earth, you can emphasize features or improve their visualization by setting a proper elevation offset or visibility range on the fly. If available, you can apply a server-side processing template for an imagery layer. Starting in ArcGIS Earth 1.13, layer icons in the table of contents can be customized for various layer types.

Elevation offset

By applying proper elevation mode and offset value to the layers, you can view overlapped data more clearly. In addition to symbol extrusion, you can set the elevation properties for a specific feature layer or scene layer. To specify elevation, right-click the layer in the table of contents and select Elevation from the context menu. The following elevation modes are available:

  • Draped None—Feature belongs on the ground.
  • Relative None—Feature knows where it is compared to the ground.
  • Absolute None—Feature knows its exact height.

Once elevation mode is selected, use offset parameters to adjust extrusion view on the globe. The recommended maximum offset is 8,000,000 meters.

  • Only Absolute mode is supported for scene layers. For feature layers, all three modes are supported.
  • You can change the elevation offset unit in the Settings panel.

Visibility range

Visibility range is frequently used when several layers are displayed in the same theme. Because most layers do not need to be displayed across all scales, you can set the visibility range based on the layer's level of detail (LOD) to adjust layer appearance on the globe.

To configure visibility range, complete the following steps:

  1. Right-click the layer in the table of contents and select Visibility Range from the context menu.
  2. Adjust the visible range slider to set a proper minimum scale and maximum scale.

    The highlighted blue indicator represents the current scale of the camera.

  3. Optionally, click the Reset button Reset to revert the current visibility range to the layer's original visibility range.
  • Scene layers, scene services, and scene packages are not supported in the current version.
  • The boundaries of the indicator are blurred because the visibility scale is not a fixed value in 3D scenes.
  • The cache of the visibility range is cleared once you exit ArcGIS Earth.

Processing templates

Processing templates are essentially operations that apply on-the-fly processing directly to the pixels of imagery and raster dataset. They are predetermined display settings or raster function chains associated with imagery layers. When working with a web imagery layer or image service layer in ArcGIS Earth, you can choose to display the layer with any of its server-side processing templates if available by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the layer in the table of contents and select Properties from the context menu.
  2. Click Imagery tab.

    Under Processing Templates, you'll see Name, Description, and Help text for the current processing template if there's any.

  3. Click the drop-down list of Name.

    All server-side processing templates with their preview thumbnails, name and description show up in the list.

  4. Click the one you want to use.

    The text under Name, Description, and Help updates. The layer reloads accordingly.

  • Name information is unavailable if the layer has no server-side processing templates predefined.
  • There is no Imagery tab for local raster layer.

Customize layer icon

Layer icons in the table of contents in ArcGIS Earth can be customized at two levels:

In other words, Level I custom icons can be different for different types of layers (for example, feature service versus map service), while Level II custom icons can be different for different layers of the same type (for example, feature service A versus feature service B).

Icon customization supports icon files of various image formats including PNG (.png), JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg), TIFF (.tif, .tiff), ICO (.ico), bitmap (.bmp), and GIF (.gif). Custom icon path supports local drive path, shared network drive path, and URL.


A layer/folder type icon overrides ArcGIS Earth default icons. The layer icon overrides the layer/folder type icon. That means for any layer, the following apply:

  • When no custom icon is set, which is by default, ArcGIS Earth default icon appears in the table of contents.
  • When either layer/folder type icon or layer icon is successfully set, icon set at the level appears in the table of contents.
  • When both levels of icons are successfully set, the layer icon appears in the table of contents.
  • When neither level of icon is successfully set, ArcGIS Earth default invalid icon Invalid appears in the table of contents.

Level I: layer/folder type icon

Layer icons in the table of contents can be customized for each layer type or folder type. To do this, the following files are needed:

  • An icon file for the specified type of layer and folder. A 16x16 pixel file in PNG format is recommended. If the custom icon file is larger than 16x16 pixels, it will be resized to fit the 16x16 pixel dimensions with its native aspect ratio preserved. The icon files must be stored in a location that current users of ArcGIS Earth can access. It can be a local folder, shared folder, or website.
  • A JSON file named icon_config.json located at C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\ESRI\ArcGISEarth.

In the JSON file, the layer or folder type keyword and its corresponding custom icon file path need to be specified. Relative path, Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path, and URL are supported as icon file paths. An example of such a JSON file is as follows:

  "version": "1.13",
  "layerTypeIcons": [
      "type": "FeatureService",
      "uri": "layerIcons\\myFeatureService.png" 
      "type": "ImageService",
      "uri": "\\\\servername\\layerIcons\\myImageService.png" 
      "type": "Raster"
      "uri": "https://web-url/icon/myRaster.png"

Supported folder type keywords include the following:

  • MyDrawings, MyData, StartupLayers
  • OpenedFolder, ClosedFolder

The supported layer type keywords cover almost all types of layers in the ArcGIS Earth table of contents. They include the following:

  • KmlDocument, KmlFolder, KmlModel, KmlTour, KmlNetworkLink, KmlGroundOverlay, KmlScreenOverlay, KmlPhotoOverlay
  • Model
  • FeatureService, PointFeature, PolylineFeature, PolygonFeature
  • Shapefile
  • CSV
  • GeoJSON
  • FeatureCollection
  • MapService, MapImageLayer, MapTileLayer
  • TilePackage
  • ImageService, Raster
  • SceneLayer, SceneLayer3DObject, SceneLayerPoint, SceneLayerPointCloud, SceneLayerIntegratedMesh
  • MobileScenePackage
  • WebScene, WebMap
  • UnloadedKML, UnloadedGeoJSON, UnloadedShapefile, UnloadedMapService, UnloadedImageService, UnloadedFeatureService, UnloadedSceneLayer, UnloadedTilePackage, UnloadedRaster, UnloadedWebScene, UnloadedWebMap, UnloadedMobileScenePackage, UnloadedWMS, UnloadedWFS

FeatureService refers to the outermost layer when a feature service (URL or item) is added to ArcGIS Earth. Under it there are sublayers corresponding to the keywords of PointFeature, PolylineFeature, or PolygonFeature. Custom layer icons are independent for all the four keywords.

Shapefile or WFS refers to a layer with source data from a shapefile or WFS. It is a single layer with geometry type of either point, polyline, or polygon. When Shapefile or WFS is not specified with a custom icon, the layer uses the same icon as the default or custom icon corresponding to the keyword PolylineFeature, PolylineFeature, or PolygonFeature; when Shapefile or WFS is customized, the layer uses its own custom icon, no longer using the same default or custom icon as PointFeature, PolylineFeature, or PolygonFeature.

MapService, MapImageLayer, or MapTileLayer refers to the layer with source data of map service. MapService is a general keyword for MapImageLayer and MapTileLayer. When MapService is specified with a custom icon but MapImageLayer or MapTileLayer is not, the layer uses the custom icon for MapService; when both MapService and MapImageLayer or MapTileLayer are customized, the layer uses the custom icon for MapImageLayer or MapTileLayer.

SceneLayer or SceneLayer* refers to the layer with source data of scene layer package or scene service. It can be either 3D object, point, building, point cloud, or integrated mesh. SceneLayer is a general keyword for SceneLayer*. When SceneLayer is specified with a custom icon but SceneLayer* is not, the layer uses the custom icon for SceneLayer; when both SceneLayer and SceneLayer* are customized, the layer uses the custom icon for SceneLayer*.

WebScene or WebMap refers to the outermost layer of a web scene or web map. The sublayers can be various layer types and are independent of WebScene and WebMap.

Unloaded* refers to startup layers with state set as Invisible in ArcGIS Earth configuration.

Level II: layer icon

Level II custom icon layers fall into two categories: operational layers and startup layers.

Operational layers refer to layers with their information (including custom icon path) saved in operational_layers.json file in ArcGIS Earth workspace. They include the My Drawings folder, My Data folder, groups, topmost layer of a dataset added into the table of contents, and sublayers of a feature service or scene service layer under My Data. Icon customization for operational layer can be done through a user interface using the following steps:

  1. Move the pointer to the layer icon in the table of contents. Wait about half second until the Edit buttonEdit shows up.
  2. Click the button to open the Icon Location dialog box.
  3. In this dialog box, directly enter the custom icon path or URL. Alternatively, click the Edit button Edit to open the icon browser, and then browse to and select the custom icon file located in a local drive or shared network drive.
  4. Click OK to close the Icon Location dialog box.

    In the table of contents, the icon selected in Step 3 shows up as the layer icon.

  5. To set the layer icon back to which it currently overrides, open the Icon Location dialog box by following Step 1 and 2, and then click Reset.

For operational layer icon customization, if using a local icon file, it is recommended that you put the file in the current workspace folder, so that when you export a workspace, the icon files can be included into the exported workspace folder.

Startup layers are layers defined by the administrator configuration in ArcGIS Earth configuration file. The custom icon path for a startup layer is defined in the same entry as the layer itself in the configuration file. The following is an example entry of a startup layer with its icon customized.

<layer name="" type="Shapefile" url="C:\test.shp" visible="False" icon="C:\icon.png"/>

For a more comprehensive example, refer to the sample configuration.