Mapping with ArcGIS Pro

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05-15-2015 01:58 PM
SeanO_Brien
New Contributor III

I was recently inclined to give ArcGIS Pro another shot for mapping when Video Link : 2516, a presentation about authoring maps with Pro. I am a GIS user who uses ArcGIS Desktop for making maps on a daily basis. I am intrigued by Pro and the implemented functions for mapping. The drawing is fast, anti-aliasing makes features look smooth, and true transparency gives the user added display options. Updating labels in the ribbon and previewing map changes without having to go through multiple dialog boxes is fantastic. Multiple layouts will be a huge help for being able to make multiple maps with the same data.

However, in my opinion, there are too many drawbacks for this to be used as a mapping application at the moment. The first (and for me the most important) is the lack of snapping guides. I understand that these are in the works for a future release, but not having the page and elements aligned and spaced consistently is the sign of a novice map maker. I know that there are “Size and Position” tools in the ribbon, but those aren’t very convenient, especially if there are multiple elements that need to be moved. If there is a background offset to an element, the "Size and Position" interface is basically worthless.

The next issue is the map surrounds that most people would use in a map (Scale Bar, North Arrow, and Legend). In almost every map I make, I use these elements. When I use these elements, I usually have some sort of background to make these elements stand out. There are some limitations to these element backgrounds. For instance, the legend does not rescale when you resize it (see attachment). I like the ability to do this without having to convert the legend to graphics, but I would still like the option for the legend to rescale (I could not find this functionality). When I make scale bars, I prefer to make the border in the horizontal direction longer than the vertical direction. As far as I can tell, there is no way to do this in Pro.

There are a couple of other key features missing in Pro. The extent indicator for inset maps, and Data Driven Pages. The lack of some features wouldn’t be a big issue if there was a way to export the Pro document to Desktop. I understand that because of all the features Pro offers, being able to export to an .mxd would be a pain for developers (or maybe even impossible). The tradeoff is this, if there is a function that I need to create my map, and it’s not in Pro, I need to remake the whole map again in Desktop. This alone is enough to deter me from ever starting a map in Pro, no matter how useful the new features are.

Pro has a lot of potential when it comes to mapping, and I don't want this to be interpreted as me thinking Pro will never get there. However, it is my the product that is out there today isn’t sufficient for users who need to map frequently. I welcome anyone to correct me on any of my points or offer any rebuttal. I've only tried it for a few days. This is why I started this page as a discussion. If anyone has any input I'd love to hear it.

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5 Replies
JoshWhite
Regular Contributor III

I agree with you on all points.  If Pro is intended to eventually take over for ArcMap it has a LONG way to go.  It may be more intuitive for a new user but for us veterans it is very hard to make such a drastic change that Pro is.

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DavidWatkins
Esri Contributor

Thanks for the valuable feedback Sean.  We are working hard to add the features you are looking for.  The 1.1 release of ArcGIS Pro will include rulers, guides and snapping with improvements above and beyond ArcMap like smart snapping. It will also include new and improved extent indicators that you mentioned. Beyond 1.1 we have plans to add data driven pages, further enhance legends, and continue to add the functionality that you are requesting. Our hope is to not only match the functionality of ArcMap, but improve upon it where we can. This will take some time, but hopefully, as we add more, we'll meet more and more of your needs. 

Take a look at 1.1 when it becomes available early this summer, and keep providing feedback. It helps us set the priorities and direction of what we do next.  Thanks again, David

JoshWhite
Regular Contributor III

David,

There are a lot of rumors out there regarding Pro.  Is the long term intention to phase out ArcMap and replace it with Pro?  Or is it more as you described just a software package that has a slightly different focus?

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SeanO_Brien
New Contributor III

Here's what I've gathered on these forums and elsewhere:

If you ask any esri employee, they will say that this is not built as a replacement for Desktop. Obviously it's not ready for primetime now, and they don't want to scare existing users, especially with a product that is so raw. It's just another application at your disposal.

If you read between the lines, and use a little deductive reasoning, the conclusion is that this there is a pretty good chance that somewhere down the road Pro will be the main application, and Desktop will be phased out. Here Is how I see it:

  • On the ArcGIS Ideas All-Time Leaderboard, the second most popular request is 64-bit Desktop, and the 5th most popular is multiple map layouts. Both are features in Pro. There are a bunch of other features in Pro that new and long-time users love. My guess is that implementing these features in Desktop would be very difficult.
  • As you mentioned, Pro would probably be easier for first-time/casual users to understand.
  • Pro integrates with ArcGIS Online very well, which is a service that esri has pushed hard recently.
  • The only way to easily/smoothly transition users to something so different is to release them side-by-side.

That's just speculation on my part, but in my opinion, Pro will become a lot better in future releases. Once it catches enough steam, and matches Desktop's functionality, my guess is that it will become the main product.

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JoshWhite
Regular Contributor III

Thanks Sean, that basically what I was thinking.  I'm not excited about this much change of course but certainly the Ideas leaderboard tells the story.  I don't personally use a lot of the extra features such as 3D but it is apparent that ArcMap cannot properly handle this.  The multiple layout options are something I could support fully though, I have many times changed the layout in one ArcMap document numerous times to satisfy small requests and oftentimes the "small" requests require a different size for the layout.

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