Sizewise, the 2017 Esri User Conference turned out to be the biggest UC yet, with over 16,000 attendees. This year’s theme was The Science of Where - Unlock Data’s Full Potential. The “The Science of Where” is defined as “the science of geography and the technology of GIS”. GIS is the framework for applying location science to almost everything, since most things have a geospatial component. ESRI’s Jack Dangermond spoke on creating the “modern GIS architecture” where everyone is leveraging web services to work smarter, and more collaboratively, with the best most-current information. Jack also emphasized how data sharing is essential to the work we all do.

Along with ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro was the main theme at the UC and seems poised to be so for years to come. New tools and enhancements are available in the latest Pro version 2.0. Below is a Top 10 List of Favorite Things Available in ArcGIS Pro 2.0 from the Esri UC plenary session:

  1. Annotation - Feature linked and editable right in the map
  2. Charting Tools
  3. Layout Improvements
  4. Auto-Georeferencing
  5. Catalog with Favorites
  6. WFS (Web Feature Service)
  7. Editing in 3D
  8. 3D navigation tool
  9. Sharing as a Web Map
  10. Dark Theme

At UGRC we are most excited about #6 which means we’ll all have a Catalog pane with ‘favorites’ to allow established database, server, and folder connections to persist between Pro projects, both new and old. The auto-georeferencing tool, charting tools and layout enhancements will also be beneficial. Some of us are also enjoying the ‘dark theme’ UI in Pro after years of working without such an option.

There were many examples shown of Apps and the App Builder; tons and tons of them out there. The hard part is finding the one that will work best for your needs and although they all seem easily configurable it’s still possible that you won’t find one that does exactly what you want. Patience in searching for possible solutions and some flexibility with your requirements will be rewarded in many cases. There is also a lot of free training for anyone with a license and ESRI login. In general, there were many samples of Apps, Story Maps, and a consistent emphasis on “bringing your map to life”.

ArcMap is designed to only be released through version 10.6. While Esri is encouraging everyone to migrate from ArcMap to Pro there are still a few things Pro is missing. Two of the items on UGRC’s wish list are COGO tools and Parcel Fabric which are at least another year out in Pro, although we heard others predict that they many be as much as 5 years out. Also, while Pro is built on 64-bit architecture and uses Python 3, many of the geoprocessing tools have not been upgraded to fully utilize the 64-bit environment so geoprocessing speeds may not necessarily be maximized from a move to Pro yet.

More than a few staff here at UGRC have been working in GIS upwards of 20 years and can remember the migration from ArcInfo to ArcView to ArcMap. So far, the migration to ArcGIS Pro seems to be taking a similar track with opportunities and challenges interspersed with the occasional disappointment as well as pleasant surprises. Our advice is to not jump headlong into Pro thinking it will do everything you need, at lightning speeds and without bugs. Pro is perhaps best characterized as approaching maturity. If the latest version (2.0) is any indicator, it seems like the updates and enhancements will continue to accelerate. It’s probably time for most of us to begin to transition to Pro, but plan on some transition time to familiarize yourself. Don’t be afraid to wade into this new environment, at this point you’re bound to find a few things to make your life better.

Here are a couple of useful links from the UC: