Backward/Forward Compatibility

12-03-2015 03:37 PM
Status: Closed
Occasional Contributor III

The release of v10.2 allowed the capability to save an mxd and a user running v10.1 could open the map without an error message. Previously, we would have to save a copy down to the previous version if we had users still running a previous version. The backward/forward compatibility with 10.1 and 10.2 saved time in our workflow. Now, as a couple users upgrade to v10.3, we find the backward/forward compatibility of our mxd's lost. Why hasn't this feature continued in the software? At the very least, we should have an option to "save as" the version most used in our workflow. Ideally, every forward version of the software should be able to identify which version the user is running and open the map. Our workflow has been compromised because this wasn't realized until 100's of maps had been saved at 10.3 and our 10.2 users can't open them. When a new release of the software is available, I think there should be a HUGE disclaimer stating something like NOT BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE! so we would know to copy them down to the previous version. There is no statement (that  I can see) stating this in the v10.3 documentation. Thanks for your time.

We benefit from the possibility to do a save as version. For workflow reasons I think it should be possible to default to a specific version.

For reference, there was a long discussion on this topic over in GeoNet:

A warning before clobbering an older format file would be nice, but then there needs to be a mechanism to defeat this feature (when folks are intending to clobber, and don't want to hit dozens (or hundreds) of "Ok" buttons). 

A user interface to set the default save-as release version would be much more work.

Maybe in the title bar of ArcMap it can say what version of MXD the MXD is currently at.  And maybe include which license level you're using too (like it used to show :<( ).
I think ESRI should change the responsibility to translate mxd files from the map publisher to the client.  Currently the person creating the map is responsible for saving old versions of mxd files for any clients that do not have an upgraded version of ArcGIS.  I do not like this for two reasons
  • It punishes people with updated versions of ArcGIS - They have to do more work to save maps in versions for people that do not the latest copy of ArcGIS.
  • If a client does not have access to a newer version of ArcGIS then they might be out of luck.  This might happen if they have a 3rd party extension that is not compatible with the new version of ArcGIS.
Potential Solutions:
  • Create a seperate application that clients can download that will convert any mxd into their current version of ArcGIS.
  • Add a translator into ArcGIS.   If a user has ArcGIS 10.2 and they try to open up a ArcGIS 10.3 map they could be greated with a message "This mxd was created using a newer version of ArcGIS.  Would you like to download the ttranslator file so you can open this map?".   Older versions of ArcGIS might need to rely on a patch or the seperate freely downloadable application.

Now 10.4 isn't compatible with 10.3
Status changed to: Closed

This is different now in ArcGIS Pro where minor versions (2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, etc.) are backward/forward compatible: 

"All changes introduced by minor releases and patches are both backward compatible and forward compatible. Minor releases and patches work seamlessly with existing projects."

Major releases such as 1.x to 2.x may introduce breaking changes, but major releases are not that frequent.