Some of you may have seen this recent (4/28/14) ESRI blogpost - The New Ocean Basemap.

ESRI, in their infinite wisdom, has split up their Ocean Basemap into 2 separate services. One with just the map tiles. And one with just the labels. And they will 'retire' the old basemap in 2015.

My first thought: Cool, now I'll be able to drop the labels from their basemap if I want.

My second thought: But what about those times when I don't want to drop the labels...?

With basemaps being mutually exclusive, am I really going to need to build special circumstances into my mapping applications (to say whenever the ESRI Ocean Basemap is active, make sure this other ESRI Ocean Label overlay/layer is also active...etc).

What a PITA.

Are they really making it this difficult to display their Ocean Basemap with the Labels???

Have I mis-read their blogpost?
Am I missing the better/obvious solution?

BTW I've created an openlayers example in a jsfiddle so you can see the 3 ESRI offerings in place (Original Ocean Basemap, New Ocean Basemap, and the New Ocean Labels).

  • I think you are right, you will have to add two layers to your map if you want the labels and the ocean tiles, but that's cool because you can manage labels more freely that way. Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 19:51
  • but what a pita in that i'll have to programmatically bind an overlay to a basemap so that whenever the basemap changes, the overlay will also have to change...
    – sfletche
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 19:53
  • with events you can do it, but I agree with you on that. Thanks for the fiddle by the way! Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 19:56
  • @sfletche your cynicism seems a bit misplaced - the new basemap works well in the Esri APIs, which is what Esri have designed it for. If it's causing a problem in OpenLayers I guess they'd figure that's not their problem... Commented May 6, 2014 at 22:49
  • @StephenLead - I didn't mean to come off as cynical (but I can see how it is interpreted as such). I have an honest appreciation for this basemap and I use it in multiple applications. I am, however, disheartened to see ESRI continuing to make it difficult to integrate their tools/products with other (read: Open Source) technologies.
    – sfletche
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


There's no problems with the new ESRI Ocean Base and Reference layer in Openlayers. Just use 'isBaseLayer: false' in the reference layer and you are able to switch the label on and off.

  • That's precisely the problem. With the strategy you describe (and that I also described in my question), whenever a user changes the base layer I'll have to programmatically turn off the reference layer/overlay, and when they re-activate the ESRI base layer i'll have to programmatically re-activate the label overlay. At the same time I'll also need to make sure the reference/label overlay is positioned underneath all of my other overlays (regardless of when it was activated), etc. I realize I CAN do this. I was/am hoping for a less painful solution.
    – sfletche
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.