ArcGIS Pro Tips: Top 10 Questions from the 2017 User Conference

The 2017 Esri User Conference was the best attended ever, with the largest number of ArcGIS Pro users in attendance to date. It was so great to see the inspiring work you’re doing with Pro! With so many users, there was no shortage of questions for the team at the ArcGIS Pro Area of the Esri Product Showcase.

While there were plenty of complex and unique questions, there were some questions that were asked more than once. Here are the top 10 questions and answers for those of you who were unable to attend who share some of the same concerns.

1. What are the biggest benefits of using ArcGIS Pro?

ArcGIS Pro is the future of desktop GIS. Our dev team is still doing great work to maintain ArcMap, but ArcGIS Pro is the focus of our advancing development work and new functionality.

ArcGIS Pro features a modern ribbon-based user interface, 2D and 3D views, multi­threaded geoprocessing, support for multiple maps and layouts, and so much more.

One major benefit of Pro is the tight integration of desktop and web GIS. The 2D and 3D maps that you create in ArcGIS Pro can easily be shared as web maps and web scenes to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. To learn how, try the Share a web map tutorial.

In addition, you can customize ArcGIS Pro in numerous ways to fit your needs. Create Tasks in Pro to streamline repeatable workflows, automate your work with Python, or extend Pro with add-ins and configurations using the ArcGIS Pro SDK for .NET.

The release of ArcGIS Pro 2.0 brought a ton of new, highly requested features and bug fixes. Check out this video of the Top 10 features of ArcGIS Pro:

2. What are the differences between ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap?

ArcGIS Pro has many capabilities beyond ArcMap including better 3D visualization,tighter integration with web GIS, advanced animation tools, and the ability to publish vector tiles.

ArcGIS Pro is primarily licensed with Named User licenses, which means you sign in with a username and password associated with your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise account. However, there are additional licensing options for Pro with Concurrent or Single Use licenses through a traditional License Manager.

We are working hard to add more features to ArcGIS Pro. Check out the Roadmap for ArcGIS Pro on Geonet to get a sneak peek on what’s coming next.

3. What should I look at to get started with ArcGIS Pro? Are there tutorials or learning resources?

There are SO many great learning materials for ArcGIS Pro, and a lot of them are free! If you’re looking for short tutorials, check out the ArcGIS Pro Help Quick Start Tutorials. For longer, complete workflows based in real-life problem solving, Learn ArcGIS has several ArcGIS Pro lessons.

Use the filter to find Pro lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.

If you’re looking for more complex, topic-specific, or in-depth training, there are hundreds of different resources on the Esri Training website. Search the Training Catalog for ArcGIS Pro training options.

Search the Catalog on Esri Training for ArcGIS Pro training.

4. How do I get ArcGIS Pro? Do I have to pay extra for it?

ArcGIS Pro doesn’t cost anything extra! It is included with ArcGIS Desktop, which also includes ArcMap and ArcCatalog. If you have ArcGIS Desktop and are current on maintenance, you have access to ArcGIS Pro. You can download ArcGIS Pro from My Esri.

You can also sign up for an ArcGIS Trial, which includes ArcGIS Pro.

If you do not have ArcGIS Desktop or you are not current on your maintenance, contact your Account Manager, Esri Customer Service, or your local Esri distributor.

5. Do I have to get new licenses for my existing ArcGIS Desktop extensions?

No. Extensions licensed for ArcGIS Desktop can be used with both ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro.

The majority of the ArcGIS Desktop extensions are available in ArcGIS Pro. These include 3D Analyst, Data Interoperability, Data Reviewer, Geostatistical Analyst, Network Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and Workflow Manager. In addition, the Pipeline Referencing, Defense Mapping, and Aviation: Airports extensions are available for ArcGIS Pro.

Over the rest of 2017 and into the next year, additional extensions will be available for use with ArcGIS Pro including Publisher, Business Analyst, and Image Analyst. We’ll also be releasing the industry-focused extensions Aviation: Charting, Production Mapping, Maritime: Bathymetry, Maritime: Charting, and Roads and Highways.

Check out the Roadmap for ArcGIS Pro on Geonet to see our current plan for future ArcGIS Pro extensions.

6. Will my existing ArcMap documents work? How about my models, tools, and scripts?

Yes! You can import your ArcMap documents directly into ArcGIS Pro projects. To learn how, try the Import an ArcMap document tutorial.

The majority of geoprocessing tools that are available in ArcMap are also in ArcGIS Pro. However, if a tool in your ModelBuilder model is not available in ArcGIS Pro, then the model will not work. You may need to wait until that tool is available in a future release of ArcGIS Pro, or you can remove the tool and find a workaround. If a tool in the model has changed in ArcGIS Pro, then the model will not work until you update the model – to do this, open the model in ArcGIS Pro, validate, and save. Here’s an ArcGIS Pro Help topic on ModelBuilder migration from ArcMap.

The same type of answer applies to your Python scripts. ArcGIS Pro uses Python 3.4, while other apps in ArcGIS Desktop use Python 2.x. Despite some significant differences between these versions of Python, many scripts can be used as-is in both ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro. Read about Python migration for more details.

You can use the Analyze Tools For Pro geoprocessing tool to analyze your scripts or models for necessary updates to get them working in ArcGIS Pro. A tool’s help page also provides information that you may need to get your models and scripts running.

7. Can I export maps from ArcGIS Pro to ArcMap?

No. While you can import an .mxd into Pro, they are not backwards compatible. Once they are imported into Pro, map documents (.mxd) are converted into map (.mapx) and layout (.lyrx) files.

8. What are tasks?

A task is like a recipe that you can create for other users to follow to complete a complex or unfamiliar workflow. Click Record, complete your workflow, and each command that you use during that workflow is recorded as a step in a task. That task can be configured and shared with others to implement a best-practice workflow, improve efficiency, or create a series of interactive tutorial steps.

Tasks are not part of an extension, they are built into ArcGIS Pro, so anyone can create and use them. Learn more about tasks in the ArcGIS Pro Help.

9. How do I share my maps? Can I publish to a server yet?

Sharing is easy with ArcGIS Pro. You can share your work (maps, layouts, geoprocessing tools, models, and more) with others. Just click the Share tab, pick your item, set your configuration, and click Share.

ArcGIS Pro can publish services to servers that are federated with ArcGIS Enterprise, but ArcGIS Pro does not support publishing directly to a standalone server. ArcGIS Pro follows the web GIS pattern, which means that publishing is done to a portal, either ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. The portal and its items can be accessed from any device at any time, making it easy to collaborate with your organization and the larger GIS community.

10. Is ArcMap going away? Do I have to switch to ArcGIS Pro?

ArcMap is not going away anytime soon. We will continue to support past and future releases of ArcMap, fix bugs, and maintain the software for a long time to come.

However, ArcGIS Pro will eventually replace ArcMap. Our focus is on making ArcGIS Pro the world’s best desktop GIS. There are still some capabilities of ArcMap that are not yet in ArcGIS Pro, so some of you will be using both ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap until ArcGIS Pro has everything you need to fully support your work. And yes, you can use ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap at the same time, side by side.

ArcGIS Pro is advancing desktop GIS and provides a modern 2D/3D user experience for doing powerful analysis and creating beautiful maps. You should be actively moving to ArcGIS Pro because this is where we are putting our focus and the majority of our development effort.

Thank you all for sharing your questions and time with me at the User Conference! I’m already looking forward to seeing you again next year! For more answers to your questions, check out the Esri UC 2017 Q&A.

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5 Comments

  1. lorincrandall says:

    It is too bad there seems to be such a steep learning curve of weird quirks and things that don’t work how they used to (like catalog), it took long enough to learn the nuances of ArcGIS 10.x, now this whole new version completely shakes up my workflows. Maybe it will make more sense as I continue to use it, but my initial response is frustration and confusion. How many hours will it take to get back to where I started?

    • Hannah Deindorfer says:

      @lorincrandall thank you for your feedback! It sounds like you’ve invested quite a bit of time into your work with ArcMap. While you start to learn ArcGIS Pro, you can continue to work with ArcMap, because we’ll continue to support it for a long time.

      Could you detail some of your workflows? Maybe I could point you to some resources for ArcGIS Pro that would help you get oriented a little faster. To get started, this is a help topic I wrote For ArcMap Users that share some of your concerns.

      -Hannah

      • lorincrandall says:

        Thanks for the reply Hannah. I was getting frustrated with the limitations of catalog window, and when I attempted to post to My Portal it didn’t seem to work, but then later the files showed up, so I guess there is some lag in the process of uploading the files. Overall, it is looking more user-friendly than my initial experience led me to believe, I think having a whole new concept about how and where files are stored was a big source of trepidation for me. Typical workflows for me involve pulling out subsets of data from big datasets to analyze sites for potential renewable energy development, so I need to know a lot about where and how my datasets are stored. In general the interface is really nice, and there are a lot of new approaches like graphical icons and a symbology system that doesn’t trap you in the minute properties window, but having a clear and flexible file structure and system is critical for the rest of that to come into play.

        One thing that isn’t so clear is how many credits I am using doing what, I did review the table on here (http://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/reference/credits.htm). For example, I wasn’t sure why a feature dataset is different than a file in terms of credit cost, can you store feature datasets on your portal without them counting as feature datasets if they aren’t hosted publicly? I like that it looks like there are tools that you can take advantage of with credits that might otherwise be inaccessible at your license level.

  2. ras301_pennstategis4 says:

    Can you please explain the differences between ArGIS PRO options (Basic, Advanced,etc) and how one gets access to each. Thanks!

    • Hannah Deindorfer says:

      Hi @ras301_pennstategis4! Thanks for leaving a comment. ArcGIS Pro is included in ArcGIS Desktop, so when you buy a Basic, Standard or Advanced license for ArcGIS Desktop, that’s the level of license that you’ll have for ArcGIS Pro. You’d get access to your license and download through MyEsri after purchase of the license. Here’s a table that explains some of the details of functionality included in each level.

      If you’re not ready to buy a license yet, I’d recommend testing out the Esri free trial, which also includes a trial of ArcGIS Pro.

      If you have more questions about pricing options, you should try chatting with one of our sales representatives.

      -Hannah