Reviewing Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro


After completing the Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro web course, I still had several questions on how to best utilize ArcGIS Pro in my work environment. I decided to attend in person ESRI’s two day Introduction to ArcGIS Pro for GIS Professionals and brought along eleven of my colleagues with varying degrees of ArcGIS Desktop experience.

Everyone’s first impressions of the software were pretty positive. The 64-bit architecture really shines here and when displaying large datasets, the speed difference is more than just noticeable, it is really impressive. Once you begin to get familiar with the ribbon toolbar layout, the interface starts to make more sense and it becomes quick and easy to find the tools you are looking to use.

There are some really useful improvements to the editing tools with the introduction of group feature templates. The example used in the class was digitizing a line that will always have a point feature at the end of each line. You can now pre-configure a template so that the point is automatically created once the line is digitized. These features can really save a lot of time during digitizing.

Raster functions are also a new feature in ArcGIS Pro, and allow you to quickly symbolize raster data. In ArcGIS Desktop, to display a hillshade or slope, a new raster file must be created and written to disk which can be a time consuming process and requires large amounts of storage space. With raster functions, it is all done in memory and symbolization is quick and easy.

I think the biggest takeaway with Pro is the plug and play functionality with Portal & ArcGIS Online. It is so easy to create and share web layers and web maps that anyone can do it. This is definitely the direction GIS is moving and will become a vital workflow when end users expect a dynamic web map instead of a static PDF or printed map.

There are of course some drawbacks with the software as it is still fairly early in development. Not all tools in ArcGIS Desktop are available yet, but they are working towards feature parity by version 1.5. I would say that the map layout functionality is probably the weakest part of the software at version 1.3. There is a lot left to be desired when compared to ArcMap, but they are working on it and I expect it to improve greatly in the next few releases.

There is no question that ArcGIS Pro is the future of Desktop GIS at ESRI. The redesign brings the interface up to date and makes the software much more familiar to novice users with the ribbon interface that is so commonplace in software today. As we deploy ArcGIS to new users in our company, we are only deploying Pro and they are having no trouble picking it up as it is much easier to learn and navigate than ArcMap, whose design was first released in 1999.

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