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I'm starting to explore ArcGIS Online as my first introduction to web mapping (perhaps not the best choice of cloud services but thought I'd give it a shot). I was intrigued by their discussion of "story maps" and wanted to create one that overlaid raster imagery that I had on my system. However, I can't figure out how to add raster data. It seems to only accept .shp, .csv etc. I can add rasters if they're converted to layers, but can't seem to actually overlay them on the map. In looking through the help it seems the option is using a map service, the more I dig into this the more complicated it seems.

Is it not possible to simply overlay raster data as one would do in ArcMap Desktop?

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You are hitting the key limitation of Story Maps from ArcGIS Online that led me to an implementation using ArcGIS for Desktop. Naturally my technique has the limitation that it is really only suitable for something like the conference presentation I used it for. – PolyGeo Jun 4 '13 at 9:00

ArcGIS doesn't support raster, TileMill/MapBox has GeoTIFF support, it involves a bit of work, but nothing too testing. MangoMap is scheduled to release raster support next month. In the mean time the work around is to host your own GeoServer and serve up a raster layer as a WMS and then consume that WMS layer from one of the cloud based offerings.

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You can only upload vector data to ArcGIS Online. You can host your your own raster tiles on ArcGIS Server if you like and add them. But that is way more complicated than uploading vector files.

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And way more expensive – PolyGeo Jun 4 '13 at 11:29
thanks to all for their thoughts and work arounds. This seems like a ridiculous limitation of ArcGIS online. I found another SO thread that might present some options.… Will check those out – David Meek Jun 4 '13 at 13:18

If you do not have access to a server or do not have the skills to figure that out, you can also convert to KML, upload to a site like Dropbox and using the "Add layer from web" tool, copy in the direct link. This is not as efficient as publishing a service (which I recommend) but definitely a way around if you do not have online credits, etc.

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The most practical (i.e. quick) solution I found was serving it out of MapBox. MapBox offers free web mapping services including serving rasters. It converts rasters to tile layers that can be accepted by ArcOnline. However, with some kinks which require a little grinding out at times.

If you go to and open an account you can upload your rasters and build a web map. Once you publish it, there is a button to "share&use". Find the ArcOnline export link, go to your

arconline map -> add layer from web -> As Tile Layer -> paste link.

The limitation is that since it serves out a pixel layer as straight out of MapBox, you have to symbolize and do your work there. I also had some trouble serving my raster without a mapbox basemap coming along with it. You'll have to make a "style" for each raster layer you need as'll have to play with it, but it works.

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