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10 Reasons AEC Firms Should to Migrate to ArcGIS Pro

02-04-2022 02:58 PM
by Esri Contributor
Esri Contributor
3 0 962

The latest release of ArcMap marks a important stage for every GIS user. It's time for AEC firms (and everyone else) to start exploring ArcGIS Pro and taking advantage of the numerous benefits a modern GIS-application can provide. Support for BIM data, multiple layouts, and integration with ArcGIS Online & Enterprise are the key features that AEC firms benefit from right away. Below, I'll elaborate on 10 reasons why you should start migrating. 

1. Development and Support for ArcMap will end

If ArcMap is the software that helps you be successful, you can continue to use it, as long as your license is valid. ArcGIS 10.8.2 is the current release of ArcMap and will continue to be supported until March 01, 2026, as established in the ArcGIS Desktop Product Life Cycle. While continued support has a timeline, ArcMap does not. You can continue to use ArcMap, but we do not have plans to release an ArcMap 10.9 as our desktop development efforts are focused on ArcGIS Pro.

2. Free for existing ArcGIS Desktop users

ArcGIS Pro is a part of ArcGIS Desktop, so it is included in the license you already have. Download it from MyEsri or ArcGIS Online and take advantage of the flexible licensing - named user, single user, or concurrent user. For assistance, consult the ArcGIS Pro Implementation Guide.

3. Intuitive workflows thanks to a modern, ribbon-like interface

Many people have become accustomed to using programs that have a ribbon-based experience, like Microsoft Office and Autodesk products. Just like those, ArcGIS Pro’s spatial tools are now organized more cleanly and intuitively with large, easy to read buttons organized into groups on the ribbon. Also, the context-sensitivity presents the necessary tools upfront on the ribbon, rather than requiring you to turn on numerous extensions and toolbars. Use this quick-start tutorials or browse these user interface tips for ArcMap users.

4. ArcGIS Pro is a project-focused application with multiple layouts.

Whereas ArcMap uses map documents (.mxd) to store geographic information, ArcGIS Pro uses projects (.aprx) to store all the components you need for your work. If you think about it, AEC firms work on projects that contain a lot of things including maps, layouts, tables, charts, and 3D models. MXDs have limitations in what they store, such as a single layout, but an ArcGIS Pro project file can store more items for more efficient management and access. From one single map in ArcGIS Pro you can design as many different layouts as you’d like, showing different locations and scales on numerous page sizes. Here's the FAQ for further explanation. 

Projects in ArcGIS Pro explained along with collaboration scenarios.

5. Superior 3D visualization

Any 2D map can be converted to a 3D scene for improved data visualization, exploration, or analysis. For instance, the stakeholders of a new construction project can visualize it in a realistic 3D setting, allowing them to assess the project design and its impact on the surrounding urban environment. [Learn how to visualize a 3D project site] Thus, they can make faster and smarter decisions during the planning and design phases of the project. Consume LiDAR, 3D meshes and building models in a 3D scene alongside your other spatial data.

6. BIM & CAD Improvements

ArcGIS Pro can now directly read BIM files in IFC format, Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Civil 3D. No conversion is necessary, but if you do, they can become GIS features for asset management and web GIS workflows. Ultimately, these advances dissolve the divisions between GIS, BIM, and CAD workflows to help with project collaboration, critical stakeholder engagements, and innovative project delivery solutions.

Learn more from our GIS & BIM Learn Path.

7. Collaborate with ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise

ArcGIS Pro was built with collaboration in mind and supports it by giving you easy access to data and providing more sharing options than ever before. Users can still create PDF maps and export datasets, but now they can also design and publish fully interactive 2D and 3D web maps from their desktop computer. The maps you make are augmented by easy access to all your organization’s content in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, as well as the data in Esri’s Living Atlas of the World (curated, authoritative data included with your license).

8. Connect to BIM360, Autodesk Construction Cloud, and other cloud stores

ArcGIS Pro users can establish a direct connection to their Autodesk BIM 360 or ACC cloud environments to access and use BIM data (Revit, DWG, etc.) in ArcGIS Pro for visualization and analysis, as well as extending the ability to publish to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. Instead of passing around files in a shared network drive, improve efficiency and productivity by quickly importing 3D/2D models, refresh file versions, publish to the web and collaborate with your team!

9. More automation techniques

In addition to Model Builder, there are more ways to automate analysis and administrative workflows in ArcGIS Pro. First of all, every tool can now be scheduled to run without leaving the program open. Scheduling a geoprocessing tool allows you to schedule and repeat a tool you need to run regularly or to run a lengthy process at a convenient time. Examples include updating data, backing up projects, or perform analysis at non-peak hours. You can now use Python 3 or an entire Jupyter Notebook to incorporate data science libraries to explore your GIS data. Lastly, ArcGIS Pro tasks allow you to record you clicks to generate a set of preconfigured steps that guide you and others through a workflow. A task can be used to implement a best-practice workflow, improve the efficiency of a workflow, or create a series of interactive tutorial steps. Learn how to automate workflows with ArcGIS Pro tasks

10. Indoor / floor-aware mapping

ArcGIS Pro can now represent floor plan features thanks to new tools that can convert BIM & CAD floorplans to floor-aware GIS maps for space planning, facility management and indoor asset management. ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Field Maps all support floor-aware maps to enable intuitive visualization and analysis of indoor data. Learn the fundamentals of converting CAD & BIM to floor-aware GIS.

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About the Author
Originally an Esri Instructor, I am now a Senior Solution Engineer, who works with architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) companies to develop strategies to organize, analyze and share spatial data with their customers and stakeholders through easy-to-use web maps and apps. I also love teaching people about GIS and helping them realize its potential.