A Day in the Life of an ESRI Customer

03-15-2016 09:08 PM
Occasional Contributor III

Preamble. Running Arcgis and Business Analyst 10.4 on a MacBook Pro with parallels, Windows10 VM with 8G dedicated, having just upgraded windows from windows7 and at the same time 10.3.1 to 10.4

I first try to use Business Analyst tools for a new study. Strange, all the menu options are greyed out, and when I try to run a tool BA reports that I have no license available. Well, I had one in 10.3.1. ArcGIS Administrator reports that I have a single use permanent license for BA desktop.

I open a chat session describing the problem. After 15mins it becomes clear that nobody from ESRI is going to be at the other end of the chat. Perhaps there was a glitch. I try again, and wait 22 minutes. Still nobody. I have now expended 90+mins with nothing done. I file a written bug report and try to do other work, without using BA.

Next I try to make a union of layer of polygons with one of ESRI BA .bds layers. The software reports that it is trying to find setup.msi in order to perform 64bit background processing. I had already installed this option when I upgraded to 10.4, and the directory used to unpack the software (which presumably contained setup.msi) no longer exists.

I try to cancel the operation, but it won't allow me to. I click cancel, and it goes right back to asking me where setup.msi is located. I am stuck in an infinite loop. The only solution is to kill ArcGIS. I lose all the prep work

I had done prior to attempting the union. That is another 90+ minutes down the drain.

I try to move on to something else. I draw a map of Portland using the basemap layers from BA but at a smaller scale than I usually employ. I find that the Columbia/Willamette rivers do not display. Portland looks as though it is just dry land. After some digging around I find that at a scale of 100-150K the layer which is responsible for drawing rivers is actually pointing at the oceans dataset. Another 90+ mins gone.  The basemap has already been incorporated into dozens of frames in several different maps, and so will take me a few more hours to correct, even were I certain about what the correct dataset should be. I try to use GeoNet to report the problem and get a web page which doesn't display correctly (the box where I enter tags is scrolled of the screen, and there is no SUBMIT button visible). After quitting and reentering GeoNet, I am finally able to post a message (See elsewhere).

Eventually, after normal East Coast hours, I get an acknowledgment from ESRI about the BA license bug. Maybe tomorrow it can be fixed. The whole day is done, and I have accomplished nothing. I feel as though I am doing the job that ESRI QA should be doing, and not being paid.

Let me ask fellow users, and ESRI. Is this acceptable?  I say no. Without doubt, this company has the worst QA department that I have ever encountered. Bugs which I reported years ago remain unfixed. Every single time I upgrade ArcGIS I run into a a new slew of problems and most of the old ones. The software performs like a dog; every time I save a map I am greeted with a spinning blue circle to upwards of 3 minutes. maps redraw for no reason, while at other times when they should redraw one sees the mysterious "cancelled" announcement. Many tools seem to take an eternity even to present a dialogue window to get the parameters.

This is just not good enough.

Rob Stevens

NSW Corp.

11 Replies
MVP Honored Contributor

"I feel as though I am doing the job that ESRI QA should be doing, and not being paid."

Actually, you (or someone) is paying a good deal of money for that privilege. 

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MVP Frequent Contributor

Robert Stevens

Running Arcgis and Business Analyst 10.4 on a MacBook Pro with parallels, Windows10 VM with 8G dedicated, having just upgraded windows from windows7 and at the same time 10.3.1 to 10.4

I first try to use Business Analyst tools for a new study. Strange, all the menu options are greyed out, and when I try to run a tool BA reports that I have no license available. Well, I had one in 10.3.1. ArcGIS Administrator reports that I have a single use permanent license for BA desktop.

Hmm, you do realize that Esri does *NOT* support your installation configuration of ArcGIS installed to a Windows VM hosted on OS X via Parallels (or Fusion)--just saying.

Also, you have a bunch of moving pieces in play...  VM Windows 7 -> Windows 10 was that the Microsoft "Upgrade" install or did you do a clean installation?   And of course in going from  ArcGIS 10.3.1 -> 10.4--was that done as an upgrade on the upgraded VM?  I hope you are not surprised to be having issues in what was already a fragile installation.

Personally, at this point I'd try to resolve the licensing issues first.  Probably easiest to deauthorize it all, but at a minimum the Business Analyst extension and its Data license.  Then verify that you have full ArcGIS for Desktop licensing (test the other Extensions), if need be (actually test the toolboxes) deauthorize those as well.   And then re-perform the authorization.

Otherwise, your best bet would be to backup your data, deauthorize ArcGIS (and any other licensed applications), and trash the VM (your Windows license is now upgraded with Microsoft, so you should not have too many  issues reinstalling the VM to the same Parallels host).  Then you can start with a clean VM and do a clean installation.  That should get you functional again, but will take a couple of days.


Occasional Contributor III

Hi Stuart

Thank you for your reply. You ask a couple of questions.

The exact sequence of steps in upgrading was (1) Upgrade arcview 10.31. to 10.4  (2) Upgrade BA 10.3.1 to 10.4

(3) Install the background processing packages for Arcview then BA. Finally (4) Upgrade windows7 to windows10

using Msoft's methodology.

I realise that technically this may be an unsupported configuration. OK. But surely the whole point of any VM is to be able to provide an environment which, to the apps running within it, appears to be exactly the same as a native installation of the OS.

You say: "I hope you are not surprised to be having issues in what was already a fragile installation.". Well, given past experience I guess I am not surprised. But I think a customer should have an expectation that, when he follows the directions of software vendors for upgrades, everything should work perfectly. I, as a customer, should not have to tear my hair out because of some glitch in the interactions of windows and arcview.

Stuart, my intent in the foregoing paragraphs is not to negate what you have said or become argumentative. I appreciate that you are endeavoring to provide help, and I am obliged to you for that. I think, though, that my point of view is worthy of expression. The thought of having to uninstall everything and reinstall both windows10, arcview, and BA from scratch is more than I can stomach right now. But I will await a response from ESRI support, take that with what you have said, and then try to make progress doing something a little less drastic. If I have to go the drastic route I will have to resort to being fortified with good strong drink

I will provide updates on this thread with any information I discover.


MVP Frequent Contributor


Completely understand the perception that Esri should support their product better. But reality is that Esri decided quite some time ago that native Unix/Linux and OS X were not their ArcGIS for Desktop market. They'll support Apple hardware with a Bootcamp driver pack and native Windows instance, but they have NO interest (nor obligation) in supporting Parallels or VMWare implemented guest OS. They've made that clear on many occasions.

That leaves those of us who choose to run ArcGIS for Desktop in a guest OS VM, or have to support them, to our own means.  I've got multiple faculty that torture me this way, and a slew of undergrad and grad students that find their way to my office.  Fortunately with VMWare Academic program and Microsoft Dreamspark subscriptions I've gotten pretty good at keeping them functional on their Apple hardware.

Personally, I probably would have done a backup or your VM to be able to roll back from the Windows 7 -> Windows 10 upgrade.  Especially if the 10.3.1 -> 10.4 upgrade went cleanly and was functional before starting the OS migration.

But that is just me.   Point is you are so far beyond what Esri -- even Parallels-- would be willing to support, if tweaking the license authorizations does not work you're likely to have to rebuild the VM anyhow to get a stable ArcGIS for Desktop instance.


New Contributor III

So when I see Esri folks at the UC booting into different operating systems to use different versions of the software, how are they doing it?

(says the guy troubleshooting VM's.  shout out to the original poster:  I feel your pain today.  I have a reproducible crash on 4k monitors -- running in VMs and on native hosts.)

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Esri Contributor

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your feedback. As you know per our previous discussions, we appreciate your input as it helps us improve. As for the Support experience you describe, typically speaking (glitches aside and during normal business hours), we have a team dedicated to ensuring that your inquiry is captured and that a Support Analyst reaches out to you in the event that a subject matter expert is not available on initial contact. In the future, should you experience any difficulties or believe there's a glitch in the system, please feel free to reach out to me, or submit a web form which will flag an analyst to contact you during normal business hours. We definitely want to help and in a timely manner.

With regards to the issues you're experiencing, as Stuart mentions and as we've also discussed, it's possible that the Parallels environment could be the culprit, as it is not certified for ArcMap. However, we are committed to getting you up and running as best we can, and I've since confirmed that an analyst has contacted you to investigate.

As for other items you mention, I'd like to confirm-- when you upgraded to 10.4, did you also install 10.4 ArcGIS for Desktop Background Geoprocessing (64-bit)? This is a separate install that you must install with each upgrade to replace the regular 32-bit background processing which comes standard with ArcGIS for Desktop.  

Also, were you able to investigate the default geodatabase and other performance tools/ suggestions that we've discussed (i.e. Analyze Map tool, basemaps to precompute map display, hardware acceleration, working with feature cache, managing display cache, optimizing Business Analyst, etc.)?

I'm always happy to follow-up if you would like to discuss further. Thanks again, Rob!

MVP Esteemed Contributor

esri ....

  • be direct in what is actually supported, completely, with respect to hardware, software and operating system configurations

everyone else...

  • if you step out of the bounds of what esri lists explicitly (list to be determined), expect problems

You can only expect things to go well when everyone is clear on the rules and everyone understands them.

not based solely on this discussion, but the many issues that arise on GeoNet when people don't understand the 'rules' and the 'rules' aren't explicit.


First it is iThings

Next touchpads Microsoft surface pro touch screen issues with importing data and dialogue boxes

Occasional Contributor II

Right there with you Robert! I often feel this way when I do anything beyond basic cartography. For me ESRI has been pretty responsive through tech support, but it usually takes multiple days to solve issues. I wish they could just remote connect and troubleshoot on my machine. And I'm all for figuring things out myself, but their error code/help file setup could use some overhaul (here's what went wrong. Here's why. Here's how to fix it. Instead of "didn't work. Read this somewhat-related help article. That didn't work either? Sorry")

One time a rep called me to ask what I'm dissatisfied with. We talked for about an hour. She was amazed at the issues I was having. With their resources, you'd think their package would be more intuitive and more stable. Imagine if they made it open source and let passionate people improve it!

Frequent Contributor

they can remote connect and control your machine. Through the screen share viewer.

I have found Esri support to be EXCELLENT. Highly responsive.  Better than Apple.

We of course pay for this advanced software and its support.  Also, one thing I have noticed is that "upgrade to the newest version" often fixes a problem. While this isn't exactly a solution all the time.. if you are in the business of getting stuff done, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and upgrade. Server 10.2.2 has a serious bug with AGOL and layerIDs but 10.3 and up fixed it. Suffice to say... we're upgrading to 10.4 the second it's feasible for our operations.  Just a friendly piece of advice. Upgrading often is the solution.

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