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.

Image display order

A dynamic imagery layer of a mosaic dataset contains a collection of images. These images are mosaicked on the fly and behave like a single image when you view the layer. For example, the USA NAIP Imagery: Natural Color imagery layer from ArcGIS ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is published from a mosaic dataset.

When working with these types of imagery layers in ArcGIS Earth, you can modify the image display order and determine how to resolve overlapping areas. Image order refers to how images are displayed when there are multiple images over the same area.

To change the image display order for a dynamic imagery layer, complete the following steps:

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

    Under Image Display Order, you'll see Mosaic Method, Mosaic Operator, and Reverse the Order.

  3. From the Mosaic Method drop-down list, select the option you want to use to prioritize imagery. The available options are as follows:
    • North West—The order is based on the center of each image's distance to the northwest corner of the mosaicked raster layer. Since this presents a static display, it is useful when you do not want the images to change percentage as you move across the mosaic.
    • By Attribute—Select an attribute to determine the image display order. The image with the highest priority according to its attribute will be displayed on top. For example, if you want to show the most recent images, you can display the images based on their acquisition dates. Another common attribute to use is the percentage of cloud cover to get the clearest image possible.
    • Closest to Center—The images with their image centers closest in distance to the center of the screen display on top. This is useful if you are interested in viewing features from a more consistent point of view.
    • Closest to Nadir—The images with their image centers closest to a nadir (vertical) view angle display on top. This is useful if you are interested in viewing imagery with a minimum of building and feature lean.
    • Seamlines—Images are prioritized based on the existing seamlines. If you choose this option, use Blend to resolve any overlapping pixels.
    • Lock RasterLocked images will be displayed.
    • None—Order is based on ObjectId.
  4. From the Mosaic Operatior drop-down list, select an option for resolving overlapping pixels. The available options are as follows:
    • First—Display the pixel value from the image that has the highest priority as set by the mosaic method.
    • Last—Display the pixel value from the image that has the lowest priority as set by the mosaic method.
    • Minimum—Display the lowest pixel value.
    • Maximum—Display the highest pixel value.
    • Average—Display the mean pixel value.
    • Blend—Use the blend option for overlapping areas to create a smooth transition along seamlines.
    • Sum—Add all the pixel values together.
  5. Optionally, reverse the order of priority by turning on the Reverse the Order toggle button.
  • Image Display Order will be unavailable if the imagery layer is not published from a mosaic dataset.

Customize layer icons

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

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

Icon customization supports icon files of various image formats, including PNG (.png), JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg), TIFF (.tif or .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. A layer icon overrides a layer/folder type icon. That means for any layer, the following apply:

  • When no custom icon is set, which is the default, the ArcGIS Earth default icon appears in the table of contents.
  • When either a layer/folder type icon or a layer icon is successfully set, the 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, the ArcGIS Earth default invalid icon Invalid appears in the table of contents.

Level I—Layer/Folder type icons

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

  • 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 must 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
  • VectorTilePackage, VectorTileService
  • 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 a 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 the source data of the 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 icons

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 an 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. To customize icons for operational layers through a user interface, complete the following steps:

  1. Hover the pointer over the layer icon in the table of contents until the Edit button Edit appears.
  2. Click the button to open the Icon Location dialog box.
  3. 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 as the layer icon.

  5. To reset the layer icon, open the Icon Location dialog box by following steps 1 and 2, and 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 in the exported workspace folder.

Startup layers are layers defined by the administrator configuration in the 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.