What happened to the online 2.1.x Help?

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06-26-2018 11:30 AM
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MVP Frequent Contributor

It appears that the online help is now for 2.2. What happened to the 2.1.x help? I still have folks using 2.1.x 'till 2.2. is approved for the network (long time). With Arc Map help, there's a pick list thingy so you can pick the version, why does the Pro help not have that? Is the 2.1.x help archived somewhere? There are subtle, yet, confusing to 2.1.x users differences between 2.1.3 and 2.2 when, for example, a 2.1.3 user is looking at Take a map offline—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop and sees a description of how to take tiles offline, yet that option does not exist in the version they're using.

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

The toggle - thing will probably appear at some point, but I always rely on...

Release notes for ArcGIS Pro 2.2—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop 

This goes back in history and enables you to locate the time of change.  For most major changes, this should be your first-look

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MVP Frequent Contributor

Dan you and I know what release notes are, but I'm concerned about the future, when Pro is on every ones desktop, and the day a new version is released, the online help for the previous version disappears. That's going to be a real problem for those many (most) organizations where IT isn't rolling out software updates the day they come out, in fact, not rolling out every software update. Casual GIS users aren't going to pore through release notes to figure out why all the buttons in the help are different than what they're looking at. 

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

point taken... but I find 'casual users' rarely use the help files either

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MVP Frequent Contributor

When even I document something I include a link to the help topic relevant to whatever I'm documenting. Guess I won't be doing that for anything I document for Pro......

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Esri Contributor

Hi, Thomas. I was going to suggest the ArcGIS Ideas site, but I see you already went there and commented on an idea about versioning the help. 

We made the decision to not initially offer web help for multiple versions of Pro like we do for ArcMap before Pro 1.0 was released, and we made that decision for a variety of reasons. For one, we expected most Pro users to upgrade to the latest release more quickly because the upgrade process would be easier for Pro than ArcMap—that is, users could install a new version of Pro on top of an existing one rather than uninstall, reinstall, and reconfigure as is required with ArcMap. Two, upgrading would be easier for people to commit to because Pro would adhere to strict rules about when forward- or backward-breaking changes could be introduced and the releases would be more frequent and incremental in contrast to the more monolithic ArcMap releases of the past. Three, installed help would be available for those who want or need to stay on older versions of the software. (You make a good point in the Ideas site about not being able to share links to installed help.) Four, we needed to consider limited resources and the level of effort of building and maintaining a site with each Pro release while continuing to do that for ArcMap and push Pro development forward. There were other reasons as well, but I hope that gives you some background.

We also expected to provide web help for multiple versions of Pro at some point in the future—when the demand became more evident. I am seeing questions like yours more frequently. Demand is building, so I’ll start laying the groundwork for supporting multiple versions, but it will take time. Meanwhile, please continue to vote for it on the Ideas site to help us gauge how urgent the need is.

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

Robert, since I haven't come across ones that have changed in my workflow, does the current help indicated something like **changed from version 2.x ** for a topic? That may be a useful warning within the topic rather than just in the version information provided under the Release Notes which I referred to earlier

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MVP Frequent Contributor

"For one, we expected most Pro users to upgrade to the latest release more quickly because the upgrade process would be easier for Pro than ArcMap—that is, users could install a new version of Pro on top of an existing one rather than uninstall, reinstall, and reconfigure as is required with ArcMap."

Robert Garrity the opposite is reality in all organizations with large numbers of users and distributed IT support. In most cases any version changes first have to go through an extensive vetting process (security review, does the software delete stuff off the C drive (like Patching vs fixing in the Next Version ), white listing via desktop environment managers), then a limited deployment to see what else breaks (regression testing), then finally, a org-wide deployment. Specifically, with 2.2 out this week, it won't even get on my support teams computers for at least a month as I have to figure out all the differences between 2.1 and 2.2 and make sure I have the support resources to help them through those differences, update internal documentation, not to mention getting it installed on a clean OS image and doing all of the security scans.

"... users could install a new version of Pro": What users? I've asked this question several times, and haven't really seen an answer: Where does ESRI get the impression that all Pro users will have the necessary administrative rights to install Pro updates/upgrades?. 2 years ago ESRI acknowledged in https://community.esri.com/community/gis/applications/arcgis-pro/blog/2016/08/19/announcing-arcgis-p... that "We're aware that there might be cases where an organization opts to control updates, preventing end users from downloading and installing updates". Might? What market research has indicated that any organization allows users full admin control to their workstation? There are a few out there, but that is definitely the outlier. Same Post  from Curtis Price  "The in-app update capability is not viable for us as the vast majority of our users do not have administrative access to their machines. ", yet same lack of response. Most users not having admin rights to their workstations is also discussed in Create cloned conda environment as user 

So the two concerns I just illustrated lead to my 3rd more serious concern "...and the releases would be more frequent and incremental in contrast to the more monolithic ArcMap releases of the past" with emphasis on the word "Frequent". So now I'm going to introduce "Where does ESRI get the impression that IT people suddenly have more time on their hands to install Pro updates 2-4 times per year?". As both a systems administrator and GIS support analyst, I struggle just to get Arcmap upgraded every other version, and that's after a major release and a few service packs which I slipstream into the admin install. I have to get all the laptops back from the field, explain to supervisors why their folks won't be able to use their computer for a day, troubleshoot about 25% of some GPO issue that's preventing me from upgrading in the first place. There are very few people among the thousands of desktop users that have the permissions to install the software. In other words......deploying and upgrading GIS software in the "real world" doesn't exactly pan out like it does in the ESRI test lab. I'm going to venture that your solution will be "just give users admin rights to upgrade their own pro". That idea has the glide slope characteristics of a Cadillac driven off a bridge. Can you imaging the version control nightmare that will introduce? I have some users that would be happy to still have 9.3 on their desktop, and some go through great lengths to prevent an upgrade (My laptop is in the shop....). Virtualization Pro has even less of a chance of happening (I just made what I was sure going to be a yes-answer pitch for http://www.esri.com/~/media/Files/Pdfs/partners/hardware/DellArcGISforDesktopVirtualizationAppliance... which turned into "You're crazy for even suggesting that! Look at the cost! Do you think we work for an organization that prints money?  (Ummm.....yes?)". 

"....we needed to consider limited resources and the level of effort of building and maintaining a site ". Clearly there hasn't been much consideration of the limited resources an organization has in deploying more frequent upgrades. Case in point: the whole ArcGIS Pro Publish Services To ArcGIS Server saga. Some feedback I got on that was "Why can't you just install the whole enterprise stack with Portal? It's so easy!". Again, not in an environment where, actual story, getting approval to install software to download Wildlife GPS collar data is now in year 2 of a paperwork battle. 

There continues to be a lot of daylight between ESRI assumptions of user needs and environments and what is reality, I really hope that gap shrinks as we get closer to Arc Map end of life and having to make a decision to continue with Pro, given IT policies for software control.  Those policies are not unique. I work with colleagues in other orgs that could be considered your biggest customers, and their IT polices are the same. In many instances we share the polices via common GPO's and STIGS.  Throwing bricks at Napoleonic-strict Mickey Mouse IT rules is also not a solution. We have learned long ago to be part of the IT infrastructure advancement, not a complaining barrier nor a "We're going to ignore your rules" rogue user. Hope ESRI can join that solution.  

I'm glad to see that updating the help site is in the cards and I have no reason to not anticipate ArcGIS Pro Help should start showing version numbers (e.g. 1.0-2.1.2) being "In Product Plan" which is great news. Bigger picture though, we're looking a what I love to call a Catch-22 here: Why would I switch my users from Arc Map to Pro based on the points above? So someone in ESRI is looking at some counter "number of Pro's installed this week", and, seeing that number low, concludes there is no "demand". Perhaps if upgrading to Pro was a bit more attractive than it is now, "demand" would be greater. 

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

Where does ESRI get the impression that IT people suddenly have more time on their hands to install Pro updates 2-4 times per year?

Couldn't agree more with this sentiment. In my org, we blocked the update messages in our Pro installs as soon as it was supported. That, and life for all app and system support staff is better if as many people as possible across your org are on the same version of the software. From an IT perspective annual updates with patches you can choose are simply better economic sense, and I would guess if Esri polled around I think they would find that most people are on that path. Heck, they must have this data from the license server apps -- it would be interesting to know if I'm right.

Re: admin access. My experience is that most users, including advanced ones, do not have admin access in most US Fed environments anyway.  Especially if you choose the Windows platform, this level of security is necessary! I even practice separation of credentials (ie, I have a 'user' login and an 'admin' login) on my personal PCs -- AND on my ArcGIS online orgs. It's simply best practice!

Glad to see the per-user support of Conda python environment updates inside Pro 2.2 - but I hope the bugs (Re: ArcGIS Pro 2.2.0 and Python Package Manager) get worked out asap!