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Happy Geography Awareness Week! This is a fun time for the GIS community. It's also time for our third and final giveaway of 2017. Between now and November 24 at 5pm Pacific, you can enter to win an Esri technical certification exam voucher valued at US$225. On November 28 we will randomly select four individuals to receive a free voucher. Vouchers must be redeemed within six months, but you can schedule your exam appointment at a later date.


Esri offers certifications in three domains: desktop, developer, and enterprise. Earning a certification validates your expertise and is a great way to advance your career goals. Whether you've been thinking about achieving your first Esri certification or your fifteenth, now is a great time to put those thoughts into action. 


Only one entry per individual will be accepted. Good luck!


Enter the Giveaway

ModelBuilder (included with ArcGIS Pro) provides a visual canvas to create geoprocessing models that automate GIS workflows. Invaluable for conducting sophisticated spatial analyses, models are everyday workhorses too. If built with reuse in mind, models can be your go-to shortcuts to get a lot of work done quickly.

In fact, you can think of ModelBuilder as a visual programming language and a model as a workflow map. Like a map:

  • A model can be navigated (it has direction built in).
  • A model uses shape, color, text, and symbols to represent and communicate about its features.
  • A model reveals data relationships that can spark ideas and collaboration.


If you've never created a model in ArcGIS, there's just one thing you need to know to get started: take a five-step approach:

1. Plan the Workflow

Obvious, but...before creating a model, know what you want it to do. List the data input, identify the required geoprocessing tools, and describe the desired output. If the workflow is simple, just think it through in your head.

For more complicated workflows, you may want to sketch everything out on paper or a whiteboard. If you're not sure which tool to use or what a tool's required inputs are, check the geoprocessing tool reference.

2. Create the Model Shell

In ArcGIS, a model is stored inside a toolbox. In ArcGIS Pro, when you create a new project, a toolbox with the same name as the project is automatically created.

  • On the Analysis menu, click ModelBuilder to open a model window.

Tip: You can also open a new model by right-clicking the toolbox folder in the Catalog pane and choosing New > Model. 

New model item in ArcGIS Pro Catalog pane


Now set the model properties.

  • On the ModelBuilder tab, click Properties.


In the General tab, the option to “Store tool with relative path” should be selected. This is what you want, because using relative paths prevents headaches down the road if your data gets moved around.

Set the properties below, then click OK.

  • Name — the filename; no spaces allowed.
  • Label — the plain-English name; spaces are fine.


ArcGIS Pro model properties dialog box


3. Add Tools and Set Parameters

With the basic setup done, now comes the fun part. You can't beat ModelBuilder for easy drag-and-drop building and tinkering. But hang on a sec, you need to understand some ModelBuilder vocabulary.

  • A model consists of one or more processes. A process consists of three elements: input data, a tool, and the tool's output. Each output becomes input to the next  process.
  • Just like when you run a geoprocessing tool outside a model, if your input data has selected features or records, the tool processes only the selection.


When you add a tool to a model (by dragging/dropping from the Catalog or Geoprocessing pane), its output element is also added and both elements are colored light gray. In model parlance, gray means "not ready to run." You need to double-click the tool and set its parameters.

New model tool in ModelBuilder window

  • Tip: In a tool dialog box, a red asterisk means the parameter is required.


ArcGIS Pro tool dialog box

Once you click OK to set the tool parameters, the input element displays and the process colorizes, Oz-like.

ArcGIS Pro model process

As you add processes, the model window may fill up. Use the Fit to Window and Auto Layout buttons to see the big-picture view and zoom in and out as needed.

Be sure to save periodically as you build the model (ModelBuilder tab > Save).

To add the final model process output as a layer to a map, right-click it and choose Add To Display. Otherwise, you'll have to manually add it to the map.

4. Validate the Model

After you've added all the tools and set their parameters, it's time to ensure the model will run properly. Validation is easy—just click the Validate button on the ModelBuilder tab.

During validation, if there's an error, processing will stop at the first process that requires a fix. Figure out what's wrong and make the fix, then validate again. Repeat if necessary, then save your work.

5. Run the Model

You have two basic options to run a model:

  • On the ModelBuilder tab, click the Run button.
  • Outside of ModelBuilder, run the model as a tool or service.


Running a model as a tool or service has distinct advantages for collaboration and sharing. We'll cover model tools in an upcoming post. 

It's fun to run a model inside ModelBuilder. As the model progresses, each process turns red and then gets a drop shadow. The drop shadow indicates the process has completed correctly. If a process turns gray, that means an error needs to be fixed and the model stops running. If you've validated, this shouldn't happen.

ArcGIS Pro completed model

(Optional) 6. Maybe Run It Again

A model's final output may raise a question. For example, suppose a model process created a 50-meter buffer around a feature. After examining the model output, you wonder what would result if you used a 100-meter buffer instead.

To find out, simply open the buffer tool, enter the new distance value, and run the model again starting at the buffer process (right-click the buffer tool and choose Run).

Because you're not altering preceding processes, you don't need to rerun the entire model.  This is the beauty of a model. It's a perfect medium to explore and test what-if scenarios.

Like scripts, models are encapsulated workflows. Once built, they can be reused as a fast alternative to manually performing a set of individual processes. You can build a model to automate any geoprocessing task or series of tasks, from the complex to the straightforward.

Now that you've learned the steps to create a simple model, why not try it for yourself? 

Want to learn more on this topic? Check out these training options:

By Aaron Zureick, Esri global training program manager


The Esri Technical Certification program launched in January 2011 with one primary objective—to establish a means of recognizing and validating ArcGIS expertise. The program now offers nine exams, across three domains and three levels to span the breadth of the ArcGIS platform and associated user roles. More than 6,000 certifications have been awarded to date.

Esri technical certification domains and levels


The growth of the Esri Technical Certification program mirrors the trend seen in the IT certification industry as a whole. What is responsible for the continued demand in the IT space for certified individuals?


According to ManpowerGroup’s 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey, globally, employers have reported the highest talent shortage since 2007. The hardest talent to find include IT staff (developers, programmers, database administrators, and IT leaders and managers). Since the previous survey, IT roles have jumped seven places to become the second most difficult talent position to fill. Employers were asked why it is increasingly difficult to fill positions.


Lack of available applicants and hard skills were the top two reasons provided.


Esri Technical Certification enables individuals to validate their hard skills with Esri technologies, helps potential candidates position themselves as strong applicants, and provides employers with the ability to more easily find potential employees with the correct and proven skillset.


Woman with laptop showing GIS technology


Not surprisingly, the upward trend in technology-related jobs is expected to continue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of jobs today require some degree of technical skills. Experts estimate that the percentage will jump to 77 percent within the next decade. Additionally, over the next four years, it is expected that 51 percent of all IT jobs will be software-related.


This is good news for individuals who pursue a software-related career, and even better news for individuals who have validated their expertise with a certification.


In a 2016 survey by Pearson VUE (Value of IT Certification), individuals who obtained an IT certification noted several benefits, with “a positive impact on their professional image” and “moving into a career in IT” as the top two benefits cited.


Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents noted that certifications helped them perform complex tasks more confidently. These survey findings show that job candidates with a certification have a competitive advantage and, organizations that employ certified individuals receive key benefits.


The numbers are in! An Esri technical certification can play a valuable role in individuals’ ability to competitively differentiate themselves in the marketplace and in the workplace. Employers can leverage Esri technical certification to select candidates with a proven ability to perform a GIS-related role within their organization.


For information on the Esri Technical Certification program, visit

The ArcGIS Desktop Entry certification is the newest Esri technical certification, having been released about 18 months ago. It has since become one of our most popular exams. The Certification team frequently fields questions about the entry-level certification—for example, what types of ArcGIS Desktop skills does the exam measure, how is it scored, and who is this certification designed for?

To shed some light on the ArcGIS Desktop Entry certification (and certification exams in general), we talked with one of the people closely involved in the ArcGIS Desktop Entry exam development process. Lisa S. O’Leary, PhD, is a psychometrician with Alpine Testing Solutions who works closely with the Certification team on exam development, security, and maintenance. Developing the entry-level exam involved many people and many levels of review and analysis. It takes a lot of hard work to ensure we create a valid and reliable measure of a certification candidate’s skills.

We caught up with O’Leary just as she was about to leave her home base of Chicago to get married. Her credentials are impressive: she holds a PhD in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation from Boston College. She worked on higher education assessment and evaluation at MIT, and has consulted for several well known IT certification programs, including those of Microsoft, CompTIA, and Cisco.

Based on your experience in the industry, what value does certification offer to professionals?
O’Leary: “It depends on the value associated with a particular certification. The big three benefits are job advancement (and some certifications are a qualification for a particular job), industry recognition, and peer recognition.

Lisa O'Leary, PhD

Lisa S. O’Leary, PhD, of Alpine Testing Solutions

“Peer recognition—particularly in the IT certification world—is a main benefit to candidates. There are also some programs where certification is used for continuing education. So the benefit there is that certification can fulfill other job-related requirements.”

How common are entry-level certification exams?
O’Leary: “Entry-level exams, we sometimes call them gateway exams, are common in IT. They are a gateway for people who want to go up the exam level chain. What varies now in the IT industry is the approach to the entry level.

“Some have a foundation exam that cuts across all domains, and there are other organizations that have tracks (an entry-level exam for each domain).”

  • Note: The ArcGIS Desktop Entry-level certification is part of the ArcGIS Desktop track, which includes Associate- and Professional-level exams.

Are there special considerations when developing an entry-level exam?
O’Leary: “With any level of certification, we always need to keep in mind the domain of interest and the person of interest within that domain. I’m reviewing to make sure we’re developing items at the appropriate level of cognitive complexity from Bloom’s Taxonomy for the way the domain and the entry-level candidate have been defined.

“We’re expecting entry-level candidates to be able to recall and perhaps understand and apply knowledge, but not necessarily analyze, evaluate, or create information.”

Six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (presented bottom to top).

What is the role of a psychometrician in exam development?
O’Leary: “My role is to be a sounding board and a technical resource to tap into for any structure or planning that needs to go into the exam development process we’re going to employ and any measurement issues we run into.

"Basically, I’m a go-to for the science and technology behind the development of a particular exam. It’s my role to make sure—in every piece of the process, for every deliverable—that we’re always collecting evidence of exam validity.”

How do you collect evidence of an exam’s validity?
O’Leary: “I review to make sure we’re constantly keeping in mind the purpose and intended use of the test scores, which is the crux of validity. For example, we conduct in-depth statistical analysis using classical test theory and item response theory (Rasch analysis) to gauge the exam performance against its intended purpose and defined content domain.

“There are two levels of analysis that we’re constantly working on: form-level and item-level.”

  • Note: Form-level refers to the exam as a whole. A certification has multiple forms in use at all times. Item-level refers to each question.

Describe some of the item-level analysis you perform.
O’Leary: “For item-level analysis, we’re looking into item difficulty through the p-value (the proportion of candidates who correctly answer the item) and other measurement indicators.

“We’re also looking at the correlation between a particular item and total score on the exam. A well performing item is going to have a high positive correlation (if candidates answer the item correctly, they’re likely to do well on the exam). Additionally, we’re looking to see if there are there items that negatively impact a candidate’s positive performance. If so, those items are flagged for review because it’s indicative that there’s likely something wrong with them.”

Is the analysis based on data collected from the beta exam?
O’Leary: “Yes, beta exams provide a lot of useful information. We analyze candidate performance on every item as well as overall performance on the beta forms to determine viable items for the operational (released) exam.

“The time limit for a released exam like the ArcGIS Desktop Entry has taken into account the time every beta tester spent on each item. The time limit ensures that 95% of all candidates would be able to complete the operational exam within that time, looking globally across the entire spectrum of candidates that have taken the exam.

“Also, beta exam takers have the option to comment on every single item. Their comments help with decision making on individual items.”

Describe some of the form-level analysis you perform.
O’Leary: “We look at the reliability of each form: so that if a person were to take Form A, then retake Form A, what is the likelihood of receiving the same score, within measurement error? We’re looking for overall form-level reliability to be 85% or higher, with 1% or less variance between each form.

  • Note: To support an exam’s validity argument, the forms must be demonstrably equivalent. In other words, it does not matter which form a candidate receives as each measures the same knowledge, skills, and abilities in the same proportion, at the same level of difficulty, in the same amount of time, with the same reliability.

“We look at the mean performance of the forms. What is the average score that candidates are achieving on each form? We want those mean averages to be within 0.2 decimal places of each other for us to consider the forms equivalent.

“We’re looking at the average time for candidates to take each of the forms. Our standard parameter for median time is the forms should be within 1 minute of each other. We analyze the pass rates for all possible scores (0-95), and we analyze candidate time versus exam score.

“We’ve actually taken form-level analysis a step further. For Esri certification exams, all analyses typically conducted at the form level are now being done at the subdomain level.”

  • Note: “Subdomain” refers to one of the categories shown on the Skills Measured tab of the exam’s web page.

Interesting, please elaborate on that.
O’Leary: “Every section on the ArcGIS Desktop Entry exam is balanced, and that allows us to give really great diagnostic feedback to candidates. We can provide failing candidates with empirical evidence of areas in which they performed better and worse. On their score reports, failing candidates will get overall pass-fail and also pass-fail equivalents for each section.”

This is useful information for candidates planning an exam retake. Do all certification programs provide section-level reporting?
O’Leary: “In IT certification, requests for section-level reporting are very common. It’s less common for certification programs to actually conduct the due diligence and the exam development in a way that supports that level of reporting.

“Esri has really moved forward strongly with it. The way the exam development process is being employed absolutely supports the level of information that we’re now providing.”

Thanks, Lisa.

The Esri Technical Certification team recently released version 10.5 exams for seven certifications, including the popular Desktop series: ArcGIS Desktop Entry, ArcGIS Desktop Associate, and ArcGIS Desktop Professional. At version 10.5, ArcGIS Desktop includes ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap. Desktop certification exams test knowledge of both applications.


Exam releases are purposely timed to occur several months after a software release. After all, earning a technical certification requires significant hands-on experience with the technology. Sometimes the timing of an exam release and a software release poses a challenge. For example, ArcGIS Pro 2.0 was released just as we were releasing ArcGIS Desktop 10.5 exams, which measure ArcGIS Pro 1.4 proficiency. When preparing for an exam, it's important to review the software applications and versions that will be tested—you want to be sure your preparation work is focused on the right content.


The help documentation is a popular resource for individuals preparing to take a certification exam. ArcMap help documentation is available both offline and online. For version 1.4, ArcGIS Pro documentation is available offline using the help files that are installed with the product. Many of the help topics in the ArcGIS Pro 2.0 documentation apply to 1.4 as well, but of course there have been changes between the releases, including the renaming of the Project pane to the Catalog pane.


A PDF of other exam-preparation resources, including free sample question web courses, is included on each certification exam page.


Developing a certification exam is a rigorous, months-long process that involves subject matter technical experts, psychometricians, and others. The group spends long hours in discussions (and debate) to ensure that every single question is accurate, valid, and directly aligns with the skills measured by the exam. Passing a certification exam is a significant accomplishment that has intrinsic professional and personal benefits. Are you ready to demonstrate your ArcGIS expertise?

The Friday before User Conference is always interesting, and this year is no exception. The excitement is tangible, as everyone scrambles to finish their presentations and get prepared to contribute to the largest gathering of GIS professionals in the world. San Diego is about to hum with thousands of people who love maps and apps, and know that location is a springboard to gaining insight and solving problems.


Those of us who will be stationed at the Lifelong Learning area in the Expo are looking forward to talking with many of those people. We love to hear stories from the trenches—how individuals are applying GIS in new ways, hacking their way through bureaucratic barriers, working around legacy technology, and pushing the limits of the latest technology. Those eureka moments when the right tool for the right job is discovered and mastered. And the less pleasant times when lack of skills or knowledge is holding up a project. 


That's where we can contribute the most. We know that a commitment to learning and workforce readiness is the key to success in any industry. When it comes to GIS and ArcGIS, Esri offers hundreds of options to build skills, grow knowledge, and keep all kinds of projects humming.


Lifelong Learning area sign at the 2016 Esri User Conference


Visit the Lifelong Learning area Tuesday through Thursday to talk with us about resources that will meet your individual learning needs, prepare your teams to successfully complete upcoming projects, or geoenable your entire workforce with ArcGIS capabilities and unlimited access to Esri e-Learning. Find out how Esri technical certification supports your professional development goals and your organization's strategic goals. 


Next door, in the Esri Services area, along with our partners in Professional Services and Support Services, every 30 minutes we'll be giving short lightning talks on a wide variety of topics. Stop by to learn software tips and best practices, strategies to enable the people that engage with your ArcGIS platform, and proven processes to optimize an enterprise ArcGIS deployment.


Also in the Expo, Esri instructors will be managing the popular Hands-On Learning Lab. With two dozen lessons to choose from, the Lab offers a fantastic opportunity to explore software up close and build new technical skills throughout the week as you get inspired by the Plenary, Map Gallery, paper sessions, and technical workshops.


Hands-On Learning Lab lesson list




Connect with us. We're ready to contribute and we can't wait to hear your stories.

Digital transformation is a hot topic these days, and here in Training Services, we’re in the process of implementing a new digital initiative. For thirty years, we’ve been producing printed coursebooks for students attending traditional instructor-led classes. Starting in September, we’ll be providing only digital course workbooks in our training center classes.


Digital coursebooks are actually the latest in a long line of digital moves.


  • In 1997, we released the Esri Virtual Campus, one of the first commercial websites devoted to teaching GIS topics and technology on the web. Web courses were a relatively new phenomenon back then but they quickly gained a following, especially in the higher education community.
  • Virtual Campus web courses were so popular, we decided to virtualize the in-person seminar experience. In 2001, we launched live training seminars—hour-long, free, online seminars on technical topics. Those also proved to be (and continue to be) very popular.
  • In 2004, we took digital to the next level with the introduction of the Instructor-Led Online Classroom. Shortly after, the Great Recession hit and many GIS professionals found themselves grounded, unable to travel to attend a training class. For several years, the Online Classroom was the only viable option for many Esri customers to attend instructor-led training. Today, the Online Classroom is just as popular as our traditional classrooms.
  • Last year we released a redesigned Training website and doubled the size of our e-Learning collection to include new formats and durations.


So digital is a huge part of what we do, and we’ve actually been producing digital course workbooks for thirteen years—Online Classroom students have always received digital course workbooks. Their feedback has helped us understand which digital features are most valuable, both during class and after class back at the office.


Esri instructor-led classroom students


Digital books have several benefits, including


  • Color: For years, one of the most frequent enhancements requested by students has been to replace black and white coursebooks with color books. When you’re working with maps, you want to see them in color—makes sense, we get that. However, producing thousands of printed color coursebooks every year is expensive. With digital books, we can finally provide color materials and fulfill this customer request.
  • Productivity tools: Printed books are wonderful to hold in the hand and flip through, but digital books have great features too. For example, you can use the provided bookmarks to jump directly to lesson pages, you can quickly search the content for specific words and phrases, and you can highlight text and add digital notes, which makes it easy to find exactly the information you need after class when you’re trying to remember the steps to complete an ArcGIS task or workflow.
  • Currency: At one time, a new Esri software release arrived every couple of years. Today, releases come quarterly. This cycle is great for providing new and improved functionality to our customers, but it presents a challenge to keeping training materials up to date. With digital books, we’ll be able to more quickly get updated content into the books and into the classroom.
  • Reduced environmental footprint: As a company committed to sustainability and smart planning, we feel a responsibility to conserve resources wherever possible. Digital books allow us to significantly reduce paper use and the energy and chemicals required by the printing process. Digital books also eliminate the fuel usage associated with shipping printed books to each Esri training location.
  • Cost savings: Recognizing that many organizations have limited training budgets, we strive to offer affordable, competitively priced products. As with all organizations, our costs go up each year. Adopting digital coursebooks will produce savings that will help us keep the cost of instructor-led training as low as possible.


To ensure students continue to have an excellent classroom experience, we're adding a second monitor to each classroom workspace. Students will view the digital coursebook on one monitor while following the course presentation and interacting with Esri software on the other monitor. Early testing feedback has been extremely positive, and we’re excited to introduce this new digital dimension to our real-world classrooms. 

Geodata Academy is a newish program dedicated to bringing complimentary in-person ArcGIS training to cities across the U.S. The program's mission is to help Esri customers acquire practical skills they can apply right away to increase their organization's geospatial capabilities.


Geodata Academy is also a place to meet other ArcGIS users in the area, build new skills together, have fun, and forge connections that support ongoing learning from one another—rather like GeoNet.


Esri Geodata Academy banner


Since its launch a little over six months ago, we've held six events in three cities. Here are some fun facts that have cropped up along the way.


1. The very first Geodata Academy was held in New York City on November 14, 2016. The topic: Expand the Reach of Your GIS with Web Maps. The weather: Sunny with a high temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit. A beautiful day to escape the office and add new skills to one's professional toolbox!


2. To date, the three U.S. cities that have hosted Geodata Academy events have a combined population of 11,923,801. Here's how the cities rank based on 2016 U.S. city population

    • New York (1)
    • Chicago (3)
    • Washington, D.C. (21)

Next up on the calendar is Miami (42) on June 19. Los Angeles (2) will be added to the host city mix on August 11.


3. Geodata Academy events are always held on a Monday or a Friday, with Monday being the most popular. Washingtonians, however, prefer Fridays. Getting a head start on the weekend perhaps?


4. Every Geodata Academy event is facilitated by two Esri staff, usually the dynamic duo of a solution engineer and an instructor. This combination is by design—together the facilitators offer extensive product knowledge and deep teaching experience.


5. To accommodate different schedules and city commute patterns, each event includes a morning session and an afternoon session.


New York City Geodata Academy session

6. Snacks are included! Geodata Academy events are held at MicroTek training facilities, which provide snacks in the room for easy grazing throughout the sessions. Observations indicate cookies are the most popular item on the buffet table.


7. All attendees get two weeks of complimentary access to a configured ArcGIS Online Organization following the event. This is a great opportunity to practice applying new skills without the pressure of a real-world project.


8. Two topics have been taught so far (making web maps and building web apps using ArcGIS Online) and two more are coming soon (field data collection using Survey123 for ArcGIS next week and ArcGIS Pro migration in September).


9. More than 95% of attendees have said they're likely to attend another Geodata Academy session.


10. Geodata Academy sessions are open. Anyone can register and attend, assuming space is available (each facility accommodates about 30 attendees).


If you would like to attend, go to the Geodata Academy web page and fill out the form to be notified when an event is coming to your area. What are you waiting for?

The Hands-On Learning Lab (presented by Esri Training Services) is found at many Esri and user group conferences throughout the United States. Hugely popular, the Hands-on Learning Lab helps attendees squeeze maximum learning out of their conference experience.


How? By providing a dedicated space where you can take free lessons on a variety of ArcGIS topics. Each self-paced lesson takes about 45 minutes, and includes a video lecture and a related hands-on software exercise. 


Esri Hands-On Learning Lab at the 2016 Texas GIS Forum


The Lab is always staffed by one or more Esri instructors, who are happy to answer questions and guide you through any rough spots you encounter. Or just chat.

The next time you attend a conference, be sure to seek out this great venue to learn something new, build up your existing ArcGIS skillset, and enjoy one-on-one access to an Esri expert. Bonus: You can escape the conference hubbub, relax in a quiet atmosphere to recharge your batteries, and be productive all at the same time.

Experience the Lab for yourself if you're attending one of these upcoming events.

Microsoft Excel is a popular format for storing and analyzing tabular data. While you can't edit Excel data in ArcGIS Pro (worksheets are read-only), it’s easy to view Excel worksheets and do things like

ArcGIS Pro supports XLSX files (Excel 2007) and XLS files (Excel 2003 and earlier). Before working with Excel data in ArcGIS Pro, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Here are some common things to check. 

  • Note: If an Excel file is password-protected, you will not be able to access it in ArcGIS Pro.

Column Names

ArcGIS Pro converts the first row of Excel worksheet data to field names, so the first row in your Excel worksheet should contain column names. If the first row contains other content, modify the worksheet so that the first row contains column names.

  • Depending on your organization’s data requirements, you may want to make a copy of the worksheet and modify the copy.

Column names must be 64 characters or less.

ArcGIS Pro field names can contain only letters, numbers, and underscores (no special characters). Best practice is for Excel column names to begin with a letter, especially if you want to join the Excel table to another table.

  • Note: Column names that begin with a number will have an underscore appended in front of the number in ArcGIS Pro. Spaces and hyphens in Excel column names display as underscores in ArcGIS Pro.

Excel field names in ArcGIS Pro

Column Data Types 

ArcGIS Pro scans the rows in each column to determine the data type. If there are mixed data types within a column, the ArcGIS Pro field data type will be text.

  • Tip: Before opening the worksheet in ArcGIS Pro, in Excel, select the column, then use the Format Cells dialog box to apply the same data type to all the cells.

If your Excel column stores numeric data with decimals, in ArcGIS Pro the field will have a data type of double-precision floating-point number (AKA double).

ArcGIS Pro assigns the data type for a column containing only numbers to be numeric. This makes sense, but suppose you have a column of ZIP Codes?

Items such as ZIP Codes, U.S. FIPS codes, NAICS, and SIC codes should be treated as text, since mathematical operations don’t apply to this data. In the table below, the Area field has been assigned the long integer data type. In fact, this field contains ZIP Codes.

Excel table in ArcGIS Pro fields view

If the data type assigned to a field is not desirable for your data, you can join the Excel table to another (editable) table in ArcGIS Pro, then add a new field of the desired data type to the joined table and calculate its values to be the data from the source Excel column.

How to Access an Excel worksheet in ArcGIS Pro

  • Start ArcGIS Pro, open a project, and insert a map if necessary.
  • In the Project pane, navigate to the folder containing the Excel file.
  • Click the plus sign next to the Excel filename to expand it and display one or more worksheets. A dollar sign symbol ($) displays at the end of worksheet names.
  • Drag the worksheet into the map area.

The worksheet displays in the Contents pane as a standalone table (this means it’s a nonspatial table that contains only tabular data).

ArcGIS Pro Contents pane that includes an Excel worksheet

To open the Excel table, in the Contents pane, right-click the table and click Open.

You can sort fields, turn fields off and on, assign field aliases, and export the data to a geodatabase table or CSV, DBF, or TXT file.

If you edit the data in Excel while the table is open in ArcGIS Pro, you’ll need to close ArcGIS Pro and restart it in order to see the updated Excel data.

Want more on this topic?

For more information about working with Excel files in ArcGIS Pro, see this help topic.

For hands-on practice with ArcGIS Pro, check out these training options:

Since we released unlimited access to Esri e-Learning last summer, we've been gratified to hear from many customers who are pleased and excited about this benefit. The excitement stems from their conviction that training has real value for their organization. These customers want to expand their use of ArcGIS maps and apps to streamline data collection and management, do deeper analytics, create compelling visualizations, and share stories that leaders, policy makers, and the public can easily understand and act on.

Any organization that wants to get results with technology has to prepare its people to confidently apply the technology. Organization-wide access to e-Learning enables the entire workforce to build skills and gain confidence with ArcGIS tools at any time, from anywhere.

So, yes, the e-Learning benefit is great, but enabling the benefit at an enterprise scale requires planning. To help managers and administrators plan how to manage e-Learning access at their organization, below are some questions to consider and a few tips. 

Whom do you want to enable for e-Learning access?

This is the most important question to consider. E-Learning access does not require an Esri product license or named user status. To get the full value of the benefit, your organization may want to provide e-Learning access to employees outside the core ArcGIS user group. Perhaps you'd like to support professional development paths for individuals in other departments. Perhaps you're trying to expand ArcGIS usage beyond its current boundaries. E-Learning is a great tool to ignite enthusiasm and build practical skills related to mapping and analytics. 


  • Step 1 in crafting your plan: Determine the approximate number of users you want to enable.


Where do you want to manage e-Learning access? 

Location, location, location—everything always comes down to where. There are two places where you can manage e-Learning access:


  • ArcGIS Online — Members (named users) of an ArcGIS Online organization can access all e-Learning as soon as Esri access is enabled for them in ArcGIS Online. These individuals will need to use their ArcGIS Online account when signing in to the Training site.
  • Benefits:
    • It's easy. ArcGIS Online administrators routinely enable Esri access so that members can access GeoNet and other Esri websites.
    • Members can use the same username and password they already use for ArcGIS Online. 
  • Disadvantages:
    • Only named users will be enabled for e-Learning access.
    • Members who have taken Esri training previously may want to use their existing public Esri account so that all of their e-Learning activity is associated with a single account.
    • When members are removed from the ArcGIS Online organization, their e-Learning access terminates and they may need to contact Customer Service to have their training history transferred to a public Esri account. 
    • If the ArcGIS Online administrator disables Esri access before removing members from the organization, their training history may be difficult to recover. 
      • Tip: It's good practice to not disable Esri access before removing members from an ArcGIS Online organization.


  • My Esri — Anyone who is not a member of an ArcGIS Online organization must be connected to your customer organization in My Esri. Once connected in My Esri, e-Learning access is enabled.
    • Benefits.
      • Individuals who are already connected to your My Esri organization have e-Learning access enabled by default. No additional setup is required.
      • My Esri administrators can invite many people at once to connect (up to 1,000 at a time).
      • Individuals can use their existing public Esri account for e-Learning.
      • Administrators can limit e-Learning access to a specific time range if desired.
  • Disadvantage:
    • If you have many e-Learners, your My Esri organization will also have many connected users. Administrators may not like seeing a long list of connected users in the Manage Users table.
      • Good news! In the latest My Esri release, the Manage Users table has filters to display "e-Learning only users" and users who have more than the e-Learning access permission.


  • Step 2 in crafting your plan: Decide where you want to manage access—ArcGIS Online, My Esri, or perhaps both. After this decision is made, consider implementation details.


How will you enable e-Learning?

If you're using ArcGIS Online, the administrator simply needs to enable Esri access and notify members to use their ArcGIS Online account for e-Learning. This is important because many people have multiple Esri accounts.


In My Esri, connect users using the email tool at My Esri > My Organizations > Users > Invite Users. You can type or copy/paste email addresses into the tool or upload a file (XLSX or CSV). The file should contain only one column and no header row. XLS files are not supported.


  • Be aware that anyone can submit the Request Permissions form to connect to your My Esri organization. Customer Service forwards these requests to all of your organization's My Esri administrators, any of whom can grant the request to connect.
    • Tip: Have a plan in place for how administrators will respond to requests to connect for e-Learning access. You might designate one administrator as the default "responder" or divvy up the response tasks based on the requester's location or role within your organization. If there needs to be a validation process before granting permission to connect, figure that out and communicate the process to all the My Esri administrators.


  • Do you want a specific Esri account used for e-Learning?

A person receiving an invitation to connect can connect with any Esri account. If you want a specific account used for e-Learning, add a custom message to the invitation to provide instructions.


  • Do you have internal approval processes that regulate how employees and contractors request and take training? 

Integrate e-Learning access into your existing processes. Decide whether each user should request access by submitting the Request Permissions form or if an administrator should proactively enable all approved users (by enabling Esri access in ArcGIS Online or connecting them to your My Esri organization).

  • Tip: If you want individuals to request e-Learning access, place a link to the Request Permissions form on your internal website with relevant information about your organization's use of Esri e-Learning. 


As individuals are hired or leave your organization, adding and removing them from the My Esri or ArcGIS Online organization should be part of your existing new employee/departing employee administrative processes.


That's it. After you've decided whom will be enabled for e-Learning access, where you will manage the access, and how you will manage access over time, you have a great start to a good plan to get the most value from your organization's maintenance benefit. All you need to do is execute.


Bonus Tips for Managing E-Learning Access in My Esri

  • Do you have a large number of users (hundreds or thousands) who need e-Learning access? 

Designate one or more Training administrators to invite and manage these users. If Training administrators will need to view e-Learning activity reports, they will need both the "assign training permissions" and "view training information" permissions.


  • Use tags to categorize connected users (by department, role, location, academic course, etc.). Using tags, you can easily filter the Manage Users table view and perform administrative tasks from there.

In recognition of their achievement, Esri-certified individuals now receive digital badges in place of the emblems that were used when the program publicly launched in 2011. Digital badges feature metadata that allow others (including prospective employers) to immediately verify Esri certification information

Esri technical certification table of domains and exams

Badges feature a fresh, updated design that will enhance resumés, business cards, and social media profiles. If you're an Esri-certified individual, access your badges and usage guidelines by going to your certification profile page and downloading them.

Digital badges are part of Esri's ongoing commitment to provide certified individuals with modern, engaging products and leading-edge functionality that supports their professional goals.

Updated March 14, 2017.

This week, we released several new features to the Esri Training website, including a back-end improvement designed to make life easier for ArcGIS Online organizational users. As of last summer, all customers with a qualifying Esri product that is current on maintenance receive unlimited access to e-Learning on the Training site

Esri Training site elements graphicWith more than 400 e-Learning options in the Training catalog today (and more are added each week), this benefit is pretty amazing. Perhaps more amazing, anyone at a maintenance customer organization is eligible to take advantage of e-Learning to grow their geospatial knowledge and build ArcGIS skills. There's no requirement to have a product license or named user status. 

When we launched this benefit, access to e-Learning was enabled when an individual's Esri Account (Public, ArcGIS Online Organizational, or Enterprise) was connected to their customer organization on the My Esri site. My Esri administrators will still need to connect the accounts of individuals who are not members of an ArcGIS Online organization.

But as of this week, ArcGIS Online organization members will no longer have to be connected in My Esri. Instead, their e-Learning access will be enabled automatically when the ArcGIS Online administrator enables Esri access for them.

If you're a member of an ArcGIS Online organization with Esri access enabled, you can visit the Training catalog and seamlessly access any e-Learning option that catches your eye. If you're a My Esri administrator at a university or college, you no longer have to invite hundreds of student users to connect to your My Esri organization each semester.

Note: The new access model applies only to members of ArcGIS Online organizations. E-Learning access cannot be automatically enabled for Portal for ArcGIS users. Those individuals will still need to be connected through My Esri.

Today marks the start of our February Esri Technical Certification giveaway, and the first one for this year. This giveaway runs through the 24th, which means you have 14 days to enter for a chance to win a free exam voucher (valued at $225 USD). The voucher can be used to register for any of the available Esri certification exams.

Table showing available Esri technical certification exams

As with previous giveaways, the rule is one entry per individual. If you entered one of last year's giveaways, you’ll need to enter again to be included this time. Two winners will be randomly selected and announced on March 1st.

Our 10.5 exams are in development and will be released throughout the year. This giveaway is a great opportunity to advance your professional development goals if they include achieving an Esri technical certification.

Good luck! Enter the giveaway now.