Subtype layers and the utility network

Blog Post created by pdemer-esristaff Employee on Nov 3, 2017

We are getting very close to the first release of the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension! I’m planning on a series of blogs that talk about some of the capabilities that I think will have high value to utilities.


In my 12+ years working with the utility industry I’ve only heard of one user wanting the software to draw slower. At each release of ArcGIS we want the software to be more performant, easy to use, have powerful capabilities, etc. When an ArcGIS Pro map connects to a utility network the connection for all end users is an ArcGIS rest services endpoint.

Technically it’s a feature service. Feature services have been around for years but at ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6 they have been enhanced. ArcGIS Pro 2.1 has also been enhanced around the way it connects to and displays feature service layers – and it’s huge WIN for performance. We probably need to back up and cover one more concept. The new electric data model only has 7 feature classes but each of these has many ways to model all the variability that electric companies have - inside the feature class we call these asset groups and asset types. For example there is a feature class called Electric Distribution Device. This has an asset group of transformers. It has asset types of Overhead Single Phase, Pad Mounted Single Phase, etc. Even though to cover all electric distribution devices in one catch you need to have fields that won’t be relevant to all types of asset groups and asset types that’s ok, you just don’t use, show or edit them.

OK, now that we’ve covered the new services model for working with the utility network and how the new data model has a small number of feature classes and these things called asset groups and asset types…lets talk about how we make this perform really well for the folks using ArcGIS Pro.


ArcGIS Pro 2.1 has a new capability called the subtype layer. When you connect to a feature service with ArcGIS Pro you can setup the feature layers to use the subtypes (asset groups) to create subtype group layers. This is great because now you can setup those asset groups as traditional layers, no different from today.

You may be thinking, no big deal it’s the same as today inside ArcMap, but this has a big performance benefit with ArcGIS Pro and feature services. Remember those 7 feature classes we had? Even though your map in ArcGIS Pro may be setup to have 61 layers, like my map using the Naperville Electric sample data…each time you zoom or pan the map it’s only making up to 7 queries to the feature service! This is a big deal. In simple math terms: 7 is less than 61, a lot less, 8.7 times less.


Over the next few months I’ll be talking more about what we are doing to improve the experience of working with utility datasets in the new ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension.