2013 ESRI Conference – Some Surprises

As the 2013 ESRI Conference wraps up this week, I wanted to mention a few pleasant surprises this year that might mean some big things for government GIS.


This year ESRI’s focus was on web GIS. Their products are definitely maturing and integrated with the web. I remember hearing “ArcGIS is now a web GIS”.

One of the surprises was Portal for ArcGIS. If you have an advanced license of ArcGIS Server, Portal is now included for the 10.2 release as an extension. If you have a standard license, you will need to purchase the extension. If you don’t know what Portal is, just think of it as ArcGIS Online that you can install on your own server (Web GIS on Premises). For us government GIS types, this opens up some fantastic options for internal use on our own networks. One big thing that I liked was the ability to use single sign on with Portal. You can import your active directory logins into Portal so you don’t have to create a bunch of logins manually like in ArcGIS Online.  When users go to your Portal site, they will not have to login since they already logged into their computer.  Nice!

Another interesting surprise was the new ArcGIS Professional product. It has a clean ribbon interface with tabs (think Microsoft Office look and feel), is fast, and integrates 2D and 3D together. It was pretty slick. ESRI said if you can use ArcMap, you can use ArcGIS Professional.  Here are some other properties:

  • 64 bit
  • Fast 2D/3D graphics engine
  • Multiple maps and multiple layouts
  • Multi-threaded application
  • Integrated with ArcGIS Online/Portal
  • ArcMap/ArcCatalog/ArcGlobe fused together into one application
  • Project centric workflows
  • Simple search and query
  • Integrated with ESRI Solutions (Local Gov, Address Mgt, Water Util, etc)
  • Task Assistant to help you with editing (put tools together for a task and many tasks as a workflow)
  • Updates will not require uninstall/reinstall
  • Extensible with addins, python scripting, .NET API

My impression of ArcGIS Professional is that it was a replacement for ArcMap, though ESRI said it was not. Both will function together on the same computer. I attended the Desktop Road Ahead workshop, thinking that I would see where ArcMap and the Desktop product was going, but instead it turned out to be a big demo of ArcGIS Professional. Hmm.  During one of the demos, the presenter slipped up and called it ArcGIS 11 then quickly corrected and called it ArcGIS Professional! Hmm again … time will tell.

As for ArcGIS Professional licensing, ESRI said it was too early to announce, but they were considering a simplified subscription based model. ArcGIS Professional is slated for a Q4 2013 release, probably in November.

One last surprise was ESRI publishing videos of the Plenary session the next day. That was fast! You can view them here: http://bit.ly/18BBX0A.  I wonder how fast the workshops will be published?

Oh, and walking back to my hotel I discovered a wall of Etch-a-Sketch’s that you could draw maps or whatever on! Pretty neat.


Looks like someone took one home!

That’s all for now.  Time for the Thursday night party!  Please reply to this post and share your conference observations too!  -mike

4 thoughts on “2013 ESRI Conference – Some Surprises

  1. Regarding ArcGIS Professional. I think it will be a replacement for ArcMap – but that’s a long way down the road. It will first go along side of it after it is released. I was in the same presentation – he called it ArcGIS 11 at one point – it will ship with that most likely (from the people I’ve talked to); but it will also still have ArcMap, ArcScene separately too.

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