ArcMap vs ArcGIS Pro

02-23-2021 07:50 AM

ArcMap vs ArcGIS Pro

There are currently two supported ArcGIS Desktop application environments.

 ArcMapArcGIS Pro

First release (8.0): 1999  (10.0): 2010

"ArcGIS Desktop 10x"

First release: 2015


Development Cycle

 (on the plus side, will not change)

  • Ongoing development 
  • Frequent updates
  • UI is stable (2.5+)
RAM32-bit (4GB RAM limit), background geoprocessing (32-bit, 64-bit optional)Native 64-bit, geoprocessing in its own thread (everything is in the background in Pro!)
Graphics hardware supportGraphics adapter hardware acceleration supportedFull support of external graphics adapter graphic processing unit (GPU) acceleration;  external GPU processing supported for some tools
User InterfaceWindows OLE/COM (toolbars, wizards)Windows WPF app (ribbons, windows, panes)
Graphics canvasStandard Windows WMF graphics engine, tied to windows printer driversEsri high-performance graphics engine (same as ArcGIS Enterprise/Online)
Adobe CS supportLegacy Adobe Illustrator .ai exportEnhanced PDF export, also ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension
AGOL supportOnline features added in (but quite functional)Developed for "WebGIS" from beginning, full AGOL/Portal integration, mobile apps
Desktop applicationsArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcScene, ArcGlobe appsArcGIS Pro (single desktop app, Map, Scene, Catalog views)
LicensingSingle-use and Concurrent-use licensingNamed user (AGOL or Portal login), (Single-use, Concurrent-use licensing available too)
Legacy formatsAccess to many legacy formats (.mdb, coverage [read-only], .e00 [import])Coverages, .e00 personal GDB (.mdb) not supported (except through Data Interoperability ext)

Python 2.7, large module stack

.tbx (ModelBuilder, Python, +R), Python toolbox (.pyt)

Python 3.x, large module stack, + Anaconda 

.tbx (ModelBuilder, Python, R), Python toolbox (.pyt), new toolbox coming at 2.8

Development and available tools

ArcObjects .NET SDK, .NET+Python add-ins.  Lots of legacy software built on this platform exists: e.g. HEC-GeoRas, ArcHydro, ArcSWAT, etc.

Because of .NET dependencies, some add-ons are supported at older versions, (10.5, 10.6 etc)

ArcGIS Pro .NET SDK, .NET add-ins. 

New tools are currently being built on the ArcGIS Pro platform and SDK.

For example: ArcHydro in ArcGIS Pro

Simple networks

Geometric network

Utility network (requires ArcSDE)

Trace network (supports file GDB)


Esri Frequent Contributor

This is a great overview of the differences! Thanks!

New Contributor II

Thanks for this information.

Esri Contributor

@curtvprice ,



Occasional Contributor II


New Contributor III

Hello everyone!

Thanks for sharing. One thing I want to clarify is that ArcMap 10.x was released in 2010.

Esri Community Moderator
New Contributor III

Hi @KoryKramer!

Thanks for sharing.

I just want to clarify that point in case someone doesn't quite understand the difference between ArcGIS and ArcMap. Because when I talk to some people about Esri and its products, sometimes they get confused when we talk about these two topics.

MVP Esteemed Contributor

ArcMap 8.x was released in 2000. (I was there in the beta class with Jorge that summer in Redlands!) My point of including that date was that the ArcObjects framework, the ArcMap display canvas, the geodatabase ... all those things are based on OLE/COM "Windows NT" technology as it existed back at the turn of the century...

New Contributor III

Hi @curtvprice 

Thank you very much for clarifying this point. I didn't know, thank you.

Version history
Last update:
‎05-05-2021 05:23 PM
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