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July 13, 2015

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Wait a minute! Isn’t it supposed to be “out with the old, in with the new”? It seems like dealing with software upgrades is very much like a fashion trend that returns every 20 to 30 years. For a long time, software appeared to be innovative and groundbreaking. Now it appears that trends start to repeat themselves.

After over a year-long hype by Esri, I have finally had the opportunity to start working with the “new” ArcGIS Pro software. The vendor was touting the capacity for multiple map views, multiple layouts, and 3D scenes in the same project. This rings a bell. In the early 1990s the same vendor released ArcView 2x which was equipped with basically the same features. ArcView 2x and its successor, ArcView 3x, were vastly popular and were easy to use. I must say, that when Esri released the now familiar ArcGIS Desktop software, I was sad to see multiple maps and layouts go. Now, I can be glad that some of these neat functions have returned. Functional similarities are one part of the trend. Just like ArcView 2x all references, styles and data were more or less contained in a project, which had the extension APR. The new ArcGIS Pro pretty much does the same as this and projects have the extension APRX.

Yes, ArcGIS Pro, is a very different piece of software when compared to ArcView 2x or ArcGIS Desktop. Not only in terms how it handles data, but also how it looks. Those who haven’t worked with MS Office 2013 will be surprised. One of the biggest challenges is simply navigating around the interface and finding the tools and functions you need. This challenge is enhanced as functions appear and disappear depending on what is active and what is not. Eventually one gets used to this. For now, let ArcGIS Pro mature for another six months to a year before fully integrating it into your business flow.

Written by Gerco Hoogweg, Ph.D.

Manager & Lead GIS & Data Technologies