Build a sidecar in your story

To help readers correctly interpret your map, you can create a series of map views that take the reader from a big picture view of the data to specific patterns. Sidecars use a scrolling technique to allow you to alternate between layers of data or large-scale views of specific locations on the map.

The story Urban Africa uses a sidecar to show growth of cities. As you scroll through, you'll see layers fade from one to the next, allowing you to compare the size of urban populations with the rate of urban population change. In a few instances, the map zooms in to noteworthy data points. To learn more about the value of this technique, start with this explanatory blog post. Otherwise, use the steps below to create a gradual walk-through of your visualized data. If you want to go a step further, you can download all of the content used in the Urban Africa story map in the last section of this lesson to test your new skills by rebuilding the entire story.

Sign in and locate your web map

First, you'll find and bookmark the web map that's featured in the Urban Africa story to use in your story. Adding content to My Favorites in ArcGIS Online allows you to locate to add to your story.

  1. Go to ArcGIS Online and sign in to your organizational or public account.


    If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  2. In the search bar, type Urbanization in Africa.

    Searching in the global navigation allows you to find content from across ArcGIS Online.

  3. If necessary, under Filters, turn off the Only search in <your organization> option.

    Search for content outside your organization.

  4. Make sure your search locates the web map by StoryMaps. Click the Add to Favorites button.

    Urbanization in Africa search result and Add to Favorites button

    Adding content to My Favorites helps you locate the map in the ArcGIS StoryMaps builder. Now that you've located the web map, it's time to open the story builder and start assembling your sequential map views in a sidecar.

  5. Click the App Launcher and choose StoryMaps.

    Choose the StoryMaps icon from the app launcher.


    You can also access the story builder from the ArcGIS StoryMaps home page. If you've created any other stories with the story builder, you can see them here under My Stories. Stories you've added to your favorites appear in My Favorites, and stories that are shared in your organization appear in My Organization.

  6. On the Stories page, click New story and under Quick Start, click Sidecar.

    Quick Start a new Sidecar story

    A story opens in the builder with a blank sidecar with a docked panel layout.

    A sidecar is an immersive block with a side-by-side reading experience composed of narrative panel on one side and a media panel on the other. Together, these two panels constitute a slide.

    Blank sidecar story template

  7. Title your story Using a Sidecar.

    This name is so you can identify the story after you close the builder.

Configure your sidecar slides

Now that you have your story set up, you can add content blocks. The sidecar block can be used to share many types of media. In this case, it's a good tool for guiding a reader through your maps and data in a series of slides in the sidecar block. You'll add a sidecar and configure a set of slides that show the patterns of urban growth in Africa.


In this lesson, you'll focus on the sidecar block. For a more thorough introduction to StoryMaps, try the Getting to Know the New ArcGIS StoryMaps learn path.

  1. On the media panel of your first sidecar slide, click the Add media menu and choose Add map.

    Add a map

    The Add a map window opens. By switching between tabs, you can choose content from your account, your organization, and the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. You can also add content from across ArcGIS Online through My Favorites.

  2. Click the My Favorites tab and choose the Urbanization in Africa map.

    Choose the Urbanization in Africa map from My Favorites.

    The map opens in the Adjust web map appearance view. When adding maps to a story, you can choose the zoom extent and view and set layer visibility before placing the map. These changes are saved in the story without affecting the original map. The map you configure here appears on the first slide in your sidecar. Start by giving your readers an overview of urban density in Africa.


    You can customize the names of your map's layers by clicking the layer name (or edit button) and typing. These changes only appear in the story map you're currently building and make your legend understandable to the average reader, but they do not affect the map anywhere else. To display the legend, you can turn on the toggle button in the settings tab.

  3. In the All features pane, make sure the Layers tab is visible.
  4. For the Urban Density layer, ensure the layer is visible.

    Urban Density layer is set to visible

  5. Zoom and pan until the continent of Africa is the focal point of the map and click Place map.

    Center the continent of Africa in the media panel.

    The map is placed in the media pane. You can go back to editing the map at any time by clicking the pencil icon on the toolbar. Now it's time to add the next slide in your sidecar. Because you want to show another aspect of the same Urbanization in Africa map, you'll duplicate the slide.


    At this point you can also start adding content to the narrative panel of your sidecar slide. However, duplicating a slide duplicates content in both the narrative and media panels. Since you will use the same web map over a series of slides, it's a bit faster to first configure the media panels by duplicating them and adjusting the maps and adding the related narrative content after your sequence is set.

  6. On the bottom of the sidecar block is the slide panel where you can manage the order of slides

    Sidecar slide panel

  7. On the slide panel, for the current slide thumbnail, click the More Options button and select Duplicate.

    Duplicate the current slide.

    A second slide is added and the editor automatically shifts to that slide for you to continue editing.


    You can use the same web map and adjust its configuration (instead of adding an entirely separate web map) to give your readers a smoother experience. As they scroll through slides with the same web map, layers fade in or out, and the map pans and zooms to the next extent.

  8. On the media panel, click the edit button to open the map designer for the duplicated slide.

    Edit the map.

  9. In the Map layers pane, turn off the Urban Density layer and turn on Population, 2015 (Cities 100k and up).
  10. Click Place map to save your changes.

    Map of cities larger than 100,000 people.

    The updated map is added to the second slide. Each circle represents a city with a population greater than 100,000. The larger the circle, the larger the population size. While there are many large cities on the continent, Cairo stands out as the largest. On the next slide, you'll draw your readers' attention to Egypt.

  11. Duplicate the second slide and open the map designer for the newly added third slide.

    You can also duplicate a slide when the slide pane is collapsed. Click the duplicate button. You are automatically placed on the newly copied slide to continue editing.

  12. In the map designer, zoom and pan so that Cairo, Egypt, is centered in the map frame.

    Zooming closer to a specific area redraws the proportional symbols. Now that the circles are spaced better, it's easier to interpret patterns.

  13. Click Place map.

    Map slide showing large cities in Egypt.

    Population size is only half the story, though. Next, you'll add a slide that compares population size with the rate of population change.

  14. On the slide panel, duplicate the second slide, then click and drag the duplicated slide to the end, making it the fourth slide.

    Move slide order

    When you duplicate any slide, the new slide is positioned to the right of whichever slide is currently selected. If you select the slide before duplicating it, you'll need to drag the thumbnail to the end of the deck to reorder.

  15. Click the edit button to open the map designer, and in the side panel, turn off the layer Population, 2015 (100k and up) and turn on the layer Percent Change, 2000-2015 (100k and up). Click Place map.

    Map showing the percent of population change in large cities.

    While the largest cities appear to be in Egypt and along the west coast of the continent, cities along the east coast seem to be experiencing the largest percentage of growth. In particular, cities around Lake Victoria and farther north in Ethiopia have grown by over 4,000 percent since 2000.

  16. Duplicate the percent change slide (the fourth slide) and open the map designer.
  17. In the side panel, click the Bookmarks tab and choose Great Lakes.

    Great Lakes bookmark

    The map zooms in to the cluster of data points around Lake Victoria.

  18. Click Place map.

Build out your narrative panel and the rest of the story

You've successfully configured a series of web map views in a sidecar block. The scrolling transitions of this block guide your readers through the mapped data with a smooth experience. Scroll back and forth through your sidecar to see this in action.

To finish the sidecar block, and the rest of the story, you'll need to add some explanatory text and other media to round out your work. To continue re-creating the Urban Africa story for practice, you can download the materials.

For more instructions on configuring your story, use the Getting to Know the New ArcGIS StoryMaps learn path (especially the first tutorial) to discover the ins and outs of the ArcGIS StoryMaps builder. For questions and tips, you can also visit Esri Community.

You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.