ArcGIS Pros & Cons

Discussion created by ecp2-esristaff Employee on May 8, 2018
Latest reply on May 8, 2018 by patgrady

(Question, how hard to create a sticky, respondable & archivable post out of a recent SCGIS Listserv Discussion? Can it directly include things the Listerv can't like images, video, and links to related resources contributory to the discussion?

Are there other interesting ways it can enhance or complement a text-only discussion going on elsewhere using links or categorization to related bodies of technical resources, literature and tutorials?  



For people/organizations who've upgraded to ArcGIS Pro, what are your general impressions (good and bad) and what issues impacted your organization during migration?

We rely heavily on modelbuilder/custom scripts and often need to access older maps & data, so implications for that, as well as the need for internet connectivity, are of interest.

I'll summarize the responses I receive for the listerv next week.


- Rebecca

Rebecca Degagne, M.S.   
GIS Analyst, Conservation Biologist
Conservation Biology Institute

RELATED LINK: Re: What is your take on ArcGIS Pro    link to similar Geonet post last month with 131 replies

RELATED LINK: Migrating from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro Class Resources   30 links on Pro migration, Pro Python, Video etc.



FYI: re internet connection requirement:

Actually you can "check out" pro licenses to a local offline computer for as long as you want

and use it like Desktop.  Miriam Schmidts teaches those steps in the ArcGIS Pro workshops 

and sessions that are offered at the SCGIS Conference each year.  Normally it's just checking 

a box in your ArcGIS Online Account, and off you go.  Occasionally things go wrong, like a

stolen laptop that had a checked out license on it.  Esri conservation program can help you 

if problems arise, just let us know.    There are also data strategies for pulling down basemap

sections, just like how you do it in Collector for setting up an offline field data collection project.


Charles Convis  Geonet:  Charles Convis

Esri Conservation Program

RELATED LINKS: Make an offline map with ArcGIS Pro 2.1   ...more offline mapping


Hi Rebecca,

 I have many thoughts that would take a lot of time to put into an email. I’d be happy to chat next time we’re together, but for now, here are bullet points:


  • The ArcGIS Online naming conventions (maps/apps/layers/) and workflow continue to make little sense to me. Although I’m starting to find data more readily, the ArcGIS Online search from Pro is incredibly limiting without more information (simple things like “Source” or “date published”).
  • Although I’m told by many Esri reps that this is an Adobe issue, there is no ability to export a layout into Adobe Illustrator format, which is a key way that we work with our designers on our maps. This is a major issue for us and our printed map workflow that the new ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud does not appear to address.


  • I am pleasantly surprised by how (mostly) intuitive the new layout is, and how easy it was to start using. Although things are not where they were in ArcMap, I find them generally easy to figure out. I was ready to hate the changes, but I find that I really like them.
  • The speed and intuitiveness of interacting with the map is worth making the switch alone, particularly when editing data.
  • It feels swift, smooth, and reliable, not clunky and buggy.
  • I love the dark mode option.


  • We have not had to do a lot of back compatibility. I have imported some .mxds, which has worked fine, but I wouldn’t say that we have or are /migrating/ past work. It’s more like I’m starting fresh.
  • I also have concerns about how to interact with online data when offline. It isn’t usually an issue for us – we’re almost always connected, AND we don’t rely on lots of online data.

 Jocelyn  Geonet: Jocelyn Tutak

Related Links: ArcGIS Pro - Export to Illustrator      Using ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud with ArcGIS Pro


A few thoughts - we haven't migrated, so to speak, and are still a hybrid shop incorporating many GIS packages including ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro:
• The Project convention is a great way to structure work, and can help clean up messy workflows for small to medium sized projects.
• You can finally have multiple maps and multiple layouts in one document again (I'm told it was originally in 3.x, then dropped) - having a many to many relationship between maps and layouts is awesome
• The developers have been really thoughtful about the ArcGIS Pro experience and it shows. Once you get used to how it does things, you can mostly figure everything else out - it's not like ArcMap where 5 or 6 user interface paradigms are layered on top of each other - there are a few edge cases, but when you retrain yourself, it's clean and slick to use
• Lots of bugs dependent on the old Windows APIs they used are just gone because the rendering pipeline is brand new (in my case, no more issues exporting transparency above 150dpi)
• First class integration of 3D mechanisms with the 2D.
• Models should work between ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro, I believe
• A bit more stable than ArcMap, but still has its own issues
• The online integration is great
• The online integration has some problems (I know I just said it was great). We're a medium sized research unit, and we have our own ArcGIS Server. We can't publish to it from Pro unless we also install Portal for ArcGIS - nontrivial, and the licensing is totally different. It's more of a mess than it needs to be. The developers are aware of this and it seems like it might get smoothed out in future releases (or might not) 
• Licensing in general can be an issue for larger organizations with legacy workflows for licensing (like our big university). Overall, I'd say the licensing is easier, but it might change some people's cost structure and may need to change how it's handled
• A few tools are still missing, especially ones that relied on 3rd party libraries (for me, the metadata export geoprocessing tool is a bit of an issue) - they plan to rectify this with time, but it may not work for all workflows yet
• They're doing great work with Python environments in Pro - if you're used to virtualenvironments while coding, you can create them directly using the ArcGIS interface, and add packages - it's getting a nice treatment. That said, it uses Python 3 (which is great), so your Python 2.x code may need some attention before it will just work in Pro - we have some big old toolboxes that predate Python Toolboxes that need some work to be used in Pro.
• Also, since you mentioned scripts, if you're using arcpy.mapping for map automation, the API necessarily changed (because of the many to many relationship I mentioned between maps and layouts). It's a *great*, better new API, but any map automation scripts you have from ArcMap won't work. If you need to make code changes that work across ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro, we've made a Python library that makes a unifying API, called Amaptor, so you can have a single script that works in both (plus some other niceties). The core geoprocessing API has *not* changed though, so there's lots of code that *only* needs the Python 2 to 3 conversion (which is often minimal, and can be accomplished with the package "six", and other resources).

Nick Santos   Geonet: Nicholas Santos
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

RELATED LINKS: ArcGIS Pro Publish Services To ArcGIS Server


Just a couple of impressions based on limited use –

I really like using Pro for analysis. The geoprocessing workflow is much cleaner and is particularly efficient when doing repetitive tasks or experimenting with analysis methods. This is because it remembers recent geoprocessing tools and the geoprocessing pane stays open so if you’re running the same tool multiple times and making small tweaks each time, the parameters remain and are easily edited.

One big drawback for me and a reason I’m not using Pro more is the lack of map annotation. The only way to get labels on a map is to use dynamic labeling or convert to geodatabase annotation. I have a lot of maps with annotation stored in the map and all of that goes away when importing to Pro. And for any new map to which I might want to add just a few labels, I find it’s much easier to do this with map annotation in ArcMap than to create geodatabase annotation in Pro.

Chris  Geonet: Chris Bruce

RELATED LINKSConvert Labels to Map Annotation in ArcGIS Pro


Rebecca et al.,

I'm using Pro daily for my two active projects and, as per the other feedback provided thus far, am generally pleased with it.

I have ported two sets of geoprocessing tools and offer the following feedback:

- Esri have been working on the portablility of the geoprocessing framework since well before Pro went live. Quite a few years ago, it was available in a 64-bit background version and could also be deployed on ArcGIS Server.

- The first set of custom geoprocessing tools I tested in Pro had been developed under 10.x as a Python Toolbox. I was concerned that the move to Python 3 would require syntax changes, but in this case the tools ran unchanged and produced identical results in testing!

- The second set of custom geoprocessing tools I ported was originally developed for 9.x and consisted mostly of Script tools with some ModelBuilder tools. The following items relate to that experience:

- If you still have 9.x style arcgisscripting code it needs to be converted to 10.x style arcpy. The trickiest part of this is converting spatial analyst tool calls to inline Map Algebra within Python. See to get started. You also need to convert all tabular data management (search, insert and update cursors) to the new arcpy.da module.

- ArcGIS Pro does not support VB expressions in the Calculate Field tool, so these have to be converted to Python syntax.

- ArcGIS Pro does not support the Single Output Map Algebra tool, which was not present in ArcGIS 10.x but which still worked if you called it in a Model Builder tool. These calls need to be converted to use Raster Calculator.

- I did run into a head scratcher that was never solved: a custom Script tool that calls Zonal Stats works fine if we call it directly, but causes Pro to evaporate when you call it from another custom Script tool.

- And a heads up if you're trying to run 64-bit background geoprocessing under ArcGIS Desktop 10.x: the Add Join tool can't run in the background in 10.x, but it works fine in Pro!

In general, I'd say go for it, but be aware that the more complex and older the custom tools the likelier you will need more time to make the conversion, do the testing and work around any issues...


Randal Greene   


Hi Rebecca – & all -

I will respond from a higher education perspective to your question about “For people/organizations who've upgraded to ArcGIS Pro, what are your general impressions (good and bad) and what issues impacted your organization during migration?” as I am a GIS instructor at the University of Denver.

First, it has been great reading about reactions from Randal and others.

Second, I converted all my lab exercises from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro for my online GIS and public domain data course at the University of Denver this past winter and just completed teaching the course. The labs ended up being slightly shorter than the ArcMap versions because the Pro workflows are more wizard-driven and have a nicer flow. The labs would have been a LOT shorter but I did end up putting in a fair amount of screen shots, not for the students benefit (because I have found that over the years, the students don’t read the screen shots as they did in the past, and they don’t need to really, because the online documentation in graphic, text, and video format is so much richer), but mostly for other faculty’s benefit. I wanted to show other faculty what Pro exercises can look like. The labs focused on solving problems from local to global scale on a variety of topics (invasive species, agriculture, land use, natural hazards, population, and others) and so tended to use many of the spatial analysis capabilities in Pro, but there were also tasks related to projecting data and publishing it from Pro to ArcGIS Online. I reviewed the students’ maps in ArcGIS Online as part of my evaluations for their coursework, which worked really well, and fostered many good discussions in the online forums because the students could see each other’s work.

I had 17 students in the course this time and asked them to give me their feedback on Pro at the end of the course. 1 student was ambivalent about it, 2 were frustrated, but 14 loved using Pro. In fact, some of the students took the course in part because I was the first faculty member in this particular program to implement Pro for the entire course, and the students’ employers wanted them to share what they learned with their co-workers. I have found that people new to Pro generally have fewer troubles learning GIS via Pro than with ArcMap; the issues that arise are, as described by others on this listserv, in converting workflows and scripts from those who have been using ArcMap. But nothing that is insurmountable and everything worked swimmingly well in this course with Pro.

Joseph Kerski

Joseph J. Kerski, Ph.D., GISP | Education Manager
Esri | 1 International Court | Broomfield CO 80021-3200 | USA
T 303 449 7779 x1-8237 | M 303 625 3925 | | |      Geonet: Joseph Kerski