Time to Move to Vector Basemaps

15th September 2020

UPDATE: As of the July 2021 basemap update, the raster basemaps (OS Open Carto, Background, Greyscale and Greyscale Labels) have now entered Mature Support. These four services will no longer be updated. They will remain available to use for the foreseeable future. If we choose to deprecate these services, we will provide 12 months’ notice.

Vector basemaps are great for their quick drawing, and fast performance in web apps. Take a look at our recent blog post to see how easily you can style the vector basemaps to meet your specific needs. But if you want to continue using the Esri default, or Esri UK basemap groups, we’re here to let you know now is the time to make sure you’re using the vector versions of all your favourite basemaps.

Esri UK Specific Basemaps

Last year we released new vector basemaps, available through the Living Atlas, and are updated bi-annually. These are available alongside the Esri UK OS Open raster basemaps, also in the Living Atlas, but are updated on an annual basis. June 2021 will be the last update of the raster basemaps and they will fall out of support. So switching to vector could not come at a better time.

 Raster Basemaps  New GB Vector Basemaps
  • OS Open Carto
  • OS Open Background
  • OS Open Greyscale Labels
  • OS Open Greyscale
  • GB Topographic
  • GB Light Grey
  • GB Dark Grey
  • GB Cartographic
  • GB Cartographic Local Names
  • GB Background
  • GB Base OS Outdoors Styles

Note – there is an additional raster tile cache called OS Open Raster which will still be maintained as there is no vector basemap equivalent.

To switch basemap groups, there are two steps an ArcGIS Online Administrator should be aware of…

1) How to set your ArcGIS Online organisation to use vector tiles

As well as being in the Living Atlas the various styles are also available in an ArcGIS Online Group which can be found here. Simply share your chosen styles into your basemap gallery group and remove the raster basemaps from the group.

2) Changes to applications that currently use Raster basemaps

When the above change occurs, this does not automatically convert the raster basemaps to vectors in your live applications. You will need to go through your web maps within your ArcGIS Online organisation and switch any of the basemaps that you know are in raster format to the vector equivalent. This can be done by opening the web map, going to the Basemap tab, selecting the basemap of choice, then saving the map.

Esri Inc Basemaps

The default basemap gallery that Esri Inc provide all ArcGIS Online users is also retiring their raster basemap versions. Below is a list of what was retired this past June, and what other basemaps will be retired in June, 2021.

For 2020, the raster basemaps that entered Mature Support are:

  • Arctic Ocean Reference
  • DeLorme World Base Map
  • World Ocean Reference

In 2021, the raster basemaps entering Mature Support are scheduled to be:

  • World Dark Gray Base & World Dark Gray Reference
  • World Light Gray Base & World Light Gray Reference
  • India Dark Gray Base & India Dark Gray Reference
  • India Light Gray Base & India Light Gray Reference
  • World Boundaries and Places
  • World Hybrid Overlay
  • World Transportation
  • NatGeo World Map
  • World Street Map
  • World Topo Map

If you’re not sure whether your organisation uses the raster or vector basemaps, go to your ArcGIS Online Organization Page, select Settings, then Map, and then you’ll see a section for your basemaps. Tick the box which says Use Esri vector basemaps in supported ArcGIS Apps, and your basemap gallery will show the vector options. Then follow Step 2 (above) to switch your current apps to the correct basemaps.

Once these steps have been followed, your organisation will be set up to use our faster, cleaner and flexible vector basemaps in all your future applications.