ArcGIS Ideas: A Home Remodel

Blog Post created by KKramer-esristaff Employee on Aug 27, 2020

Written by Thomas Edghill and Kory Kramer | Esri Customer Experience


Dear friends,


You may have heard that a new GeoNet is coming this year and since ArcGIS Ideas is like a big ballroom in the GeoNet home, it means that ideas will see some exciting updates as well.  We understand that ideas you’ve submitted, votes you’ve cast and contributions you’ve made through comments are important to you, and on behalf of the product teams that listen to your feedback, we wanted to thank you for all of the valuable input you provide to continually improve ArcGIS to make it work better for you.  


If we were to think of the GeoNet update like a remodel, not much could be worse than coming home and not being able to find the can opener, or not knowing where the bathroom is (especially late at night when it’s dark, and you can’t find the light switch either), so we thought it would be helpful to write you this letter so that you know what to expect when you get to our new home.  We’ll walk through how ideas will be structured, take a look at the migration logic, and get a glimpse of the statuses that will be used on the updated platform.


Tighter integration with GeoNet places - Your Ideas throughout the Esri community


Those who have read the details about the GeoNet platform update may have noticed that there will be a new community structure, and extra-observant users may have noticed that ArcGIS Ideas made an appearance in this structure!


Updated GeoNet structure


So, what does this mean? In today’s GeoNet, ArcGIS Ideas content can be found in a single space in the community.  An idea is categorized through a series of selectable “Categories” which, like a good tortilla, wraps up the idea and lets Esri understand which team should be receiving its contents.


This model poses some challenges, however. For example, what happens if an idea has no categories assigned? Unfortunately, it will slip through the cracks and will be hard to find in the system. Conversely, ideas which have been over-categorized are also difficult to handle and can suffer the same fate.

Box of stuff


After the GeoNet platform update, this will no longer be an issue. Ideas will be directly embedded within relevant places and logging an idea will be done just like submitting a question or discussion in the current-day GeoNet. In other words, the products and capabilities which are now selectable categories in a single ArcGIS Ideas site will become separate ideas exchanges where you can post content that is specific to the topic at hand.


It may sound like a big change, but have no fear!  We’ve implemented this new structure so that your ideas can be much more directly reviewed by product teams, allowing them to organize and manage requests in ways that were previously impossible.                                                                                                                                                                   Today all ideas are in the same place


We also want to make it easy for you to keep tabs on your ideas. In the updated user profile, you will have a special “My Ideas” dashboard which provides a view into your ideas. In addition, we will still have an ArcGIS Ideas homepage which, much like today’s site, will provide an overview into the activity of all idea exchanges throughout the community, and will allow you to easily browse through all available idea exchanges. This ArcGIS Ideas homepage can be used as your hub for discovering content and reading helpful documentation such as submission guidelines.


So, when the GeoNet update happens, you may notice that your ideas are not where they used to be. This is because we’ve used this update as an opportunity to better connect them to the right teams, while still providing the same conveniences of the current-day ArcGIS Ideas site. We’re really excited about these changes and think that it will make a huge impact on your ideas, and the entire Esri community.


Migration rules explained


How in the world are we going to get more than 17,000 ideas that are currently dancing around in that one big ballroom (OK, some of them are no longer dancing, but we’ll get to that) and make sure they get to the right dance studio in our newly-renovated house?  Great question – we’re glad you asked.


The general packing logic is that an idea’s Category will be used to map it into the right spot on the updated GeoNet platform.  So an idea for ArcGIS Online today will move to the ArcGIS Online idea exchange as part of the update.  We have done a lot of housecleaning over the past few months to try to minimize ideas that were over-categorized; i.e. had more than one category assigned unnecessarily.  That said, as part of that cleanup, there are ideas that legitimately have retained more than one category.  In these relatively rare cases, that idea will be persisted in the corresponding idea exchanges on the new GeoNet platform.  This makes it possible to end up with the same idea in more than one idea exchange after the update.  That’s OK - if the functionality is requested for multiple products, having the request exist explicitly in each product’s idea exchange keeps it actionable for the associated development teams.


So, does this mean that we can expect to see every idea that exists today in some idea exchange after the update? 


No.  The update will help bring focus to active ideas.  On today’s site, as it is possible to downvote an idea, some ideas end up with negative scores.  Ideas with negative scores will migrate to an archive meaning that they will not be visible in a new idea exchange.  A noteworthy change here is that it will not possible to downvote an idea on the new platform.


Ideas mapping logic

Also, since the primary driver of ArcGIS Ideas is to provide a communication channel from users to product teams about desired functionality, once an idea has been implemented or closed in another way, such as getting a status of Already Offered or Duplicate, its value as part of the feedback process is diminished.  Therefore, ideas with a status of New, Reviewed, Under Consideration and In Product Plan will move into idea exchanges while others will be archived.  We have provided updates on implemented ideas as blog posts in the ArcGIS Ideas space and will strive to continue improving our communication related to your ideas on the updated GeoNet platform moving forward.


Another consideration that will play a role in this remodel is how long it has been since an idea has had a vote or a comment.  Ideas with no activity for the past five years will also be moved to an archive.                                                 


Apart from the above, ideas will move to their respective idea exchange and of course retain their number of votes and comments.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  See? Simple and easy!

Updated statuses


Some more news we’re excited to share is that there will be an update to the statuses used with ArcGIS Ideas across the Esri Community.


After reviewing the current statuses in ArcGIS Ideas, we saw an opportunity to improve the way that Esri communicates back to you and made some tweaks to the statuses used. These changes were done to provide a better experience, and to take advantage of some exciting new capabilities made possible by the GeoNet community update. For example, a new status called “Needs Clarification” can be used whenever we need to get further information and context from you before we can review an idea further.


Whew!  We didn’t mean for this letter to get so long, but with such a significant remodel, this has involved a tremendous amount of planning and cleanup and we wanted to start getting you prepared (and we included some pictures, too).  Thanks for reading.  There isn’t anything you need to do now.  Just keep sharing, voting and commenting on ideas!  We’ll continue to provide information, guides and best practices as we approach the launch and beyond.




                                       Thomas and Kory