Everybody likes to be seen.  Ben gives us an oversight on visibility ranges in ArcGIS Online.

Hey guys, today I am going to be exploring setting visibility ranges for different layers in ArcGIS Online. Doing this is also possible in Pro, but it is arguably more useful in a Web Map, as then your users can explore the map for themselves.

We have seen this before in the class but have never had time to work out how to do it ourselves. A good example of where it can be useful is the map of bus routes from Canterbury Maps (https://gis.ecan.govt.nz/arcgis/rest/services/Public/Bus_Routes/MapServer). We saw this in the very first lab of this semester. As a refresher, this is what it looks like at a small scale.


Interesting, right? We can see the general routes a bus will take, and their route number. So, what happens if we zoom in a bit further?

We can now see the individual bus stops and the directions each bus is going. This would make the map very crowded if we tried to view all these layers at the smaller scale (smaller scale shows a larger area). Restricting the finer details to the larger scale allows us to take in the information a little bit at a time.

So, the next question is: how do we do this? Well, I am glad you asked! If we switch over to ArcGIS Pro, then here is an image you should all be familiar with.


Yes, it’s Quail Island. I have taken the data from the intro lab, and we are going to play around with its visibility. I have shared my copy of the data as a web map, although unfortunately the aerial photograph is a little trickier to convert, so I am not going to worry about it.

This is what happens if you try to view all the data from a distance. It is honestly a bit of a mess.

To start messing around with visibility ranges, go to the Details and then Contents panes on the left.


This will show you the different layers you can have on the map. As you can see, right now I have everything visible. When you have a layer highlighted (like I do with the contours layer in the image) you can see some options regarding it. Click on the three dots to see some more options.


In this menu you can see an option that sounds like exactly what we are looking for: Set Visibility Range. Let’s click on it.

This tool is actually very easy to use, although a perfectionist (as most cartographers are!) can spend a long time finalising what ranges they want their layers to be visible. You can see the current scale of your map at the bottom, and this will automatically update as you zoom in and out of your map. On the slider, the black arrow is where your current scale is, so zoom to the extent you want and then you will know exactly where you are on the slider.

To actually change your visibility range, simply move the two sliders to set your maximum and minimum range where this layer will be visible. There are some pre-set extents, if you click on the “World” or “Room” dropdown menus, so you can use these or choose your own, as you prefer.


I think this scale is about a good time to start viewing the contours, so let’s go with that. I’m going to change the visibility ranges on my other layers, and then will show you the finished product.


I have decided that only the coastline and GPS points have value when viewed from afar. You will notice in the list of layers to the left that the other layers are greyed out. This is to show that they are still present on the map, but cannot be seen at the current scale. Let’s zoom in a little bit further,

Alright, so now the coastline layer is no longer visible, but we can see the contours and tracks on the island. I have not set a visibility range for the GPS points, so they will be visible at whatever scale the map is viewed. Vegetation is still not visible at this scale, so let’s zoom in a little further.


Now that we are closer, we can finally see the vegetation. In my opinion, it is the most confusing layer in this image (from a visual standpoint), so I felt that it made sense for it only to be visible at such a large scale.

Anyway, now that you can see how easy it is to set visibility ranges, go ahead and start creating your own Web Maps. If you think your data would benefit from this then give it a go!