Free ArcGIS Pro Training

New to ArcGIS Pro?  Take advantage of ESRI’s free online training to learn the key capabilities of the software:

ArcGIS Pro interface

  • Project structure
  • Explore the ArcGIS Pro interface and structure
  • Map views
  • Work with map views


  • Editing workflow
  • Edit in ArcGIS Pro


  • Geoprocessing and visual analysis
  • Perform analysis in ArcGIS Pro
  • Perform visual analysis of 3D data

Sharing projects

  • Map layouts
  • Create map layouts
  • Packages
  • Create a package file
  • Web layers and web maps
  • (Optional) Share a web layer

ArcGIS Pro licenses come with your ArcGIS Desktop licenses.  You will also need an ArcGIS Online Organizational account.

Geospatial Technology and the Future of the City

Future cities will be much smarter. Everything will be measured in real time and in fine detail through the deployment of sophisticated arrays of sensors. GIS will play a major part in integrating mountains of real-time data so it can be understood and acted on. It will improve applications that range from managing environmental quality and the built environment to land-use and transportation planning. The result will be better decisions, more efficiency, and improved communication.

One of Jack Dangermond’s thoughts about the Future of the City.

GISP or Not?

Well, it looks like the GIS Certification Institute has finally settled on their plan to change the GISP certification program.  Effective July 1, 2015, all professionals applying for their initial GISP certification will be required to take and pass the GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam, now being developed,  in addition to meeting the current standards for certification via a portfolio based review based on ethics agreement,  education, experience, and professional contributions.

Already have a GISP badge?  All current professionals holding GISP certification with a recertification date after July 1, 2015 will recertify for a 3 year period, and will pay an annual renewal fee of $95 for each of the three years of the new recertification period.  The portfolio points for continuing education and service to the profession required for the 3-year recertification will be reduced proportionately from the current 5 year requirements.  All professionals certified or recertified before July 1, 2015 will remain certified under the current 5 year recertification policy and fees until the next certification expiration date and then will begin the new 3-year renewal and recertification process.

The cost for certification will change too, from $250 every 5 years to $450 every 3 years.  Let’s say you want to be in this GIS profession for 25 years.  Under the current system without considering the new system, you would have paid $1,250 over your lifetime.  Under the new system, you will have paid $3,750.  That is a 300% increase!  For a comparison, our Engineers only pay $125 every 2 years for certification!

More details here.

Is getting a GISP worth it?  That is up to you and what you want to do.  I would expect that if you worked for a GIS consulting company, they would want their employees to be GISP certified to make the company more marketable.  In Education, maybe.  In government at the management level, most jobs I’ve seen that even mention it have “GISP preferred” or “GISP a plus”, but I suspect that more will start requiring them and it might make sense to get one if you want the job.  And if you can, try and get your current employer to pay for it!

I will not interject my personal opinion about the GISP, other than when I look at hiring someone, I don’t care if you have a GISP or not.  Anyone can take a test or attend conference.  It is what you know and what you have done that counts before I decide to hire you.  Save your money!  -mike

ArcMap: Dealing with NULLs

NULL values in GIS data can trip you up if you don’t know how to deal with them.  A NULL value is not the same as a blank (empty) value, and actually takes up 1 bit more of space than an empty value.  Allowing a field to be NULL introduces an additional state that you would not have if the field was created to not allow NULLs.  And yes, you can have NULLs in numeric fields too!

Why have a NULL value in your data?  Usually this is used to mean “not set” or “uninitialized”.  A good example would be an employee database with a termination date field that is set to NULL when the employee is new.  Another example would be an elevation field.  You could use a NULL value to represent “not known”, since zero is a valid elevation.  More than likely you have fields that allow NULLs because someone created them not paying attention to the defaults.

So how do you specify a field to allow NULLs or not?  Open ArcMap (I’m using version 10.2.2) and bring in some data from a geodatabase.  Then open the data’s attribute table and select “Add Field…” from the Table Options icon.


Note by default in the Field Properties that “Allow NULL Values” is set to “Yes”.  If you do not want NULLs, set it to “No”.  If you set it to “No” and do not specify a “Default Value”, then Text fields will default to a blank (empty) value and numeric fields will default to zero.  Also, keep in mind that you can add a field with “Allow NULL Values” set to “No” only if your feature class or table is not populated yet with records.

So let’s take a look at some test data I created with some fields that allow NULLs.


As you can probably guess, the field TFIELD is a text field and NFIELD is a numeric field.  Note some records have NULL values while others have data.

Using the Select By Attributes tool, I can select NULL values in the TFIELD by constructing the following SQL expression.


The records with NULL in the TFIELD are selected.


If I wanted to select everything but NULL, I would have used this SQL expression.



Numeric fields work the same way when selecting NULLs.



Now let’s take a few records and calc the TFIELD value to blank.  First I select a few records.


Then right click on the TFIELD name in the attribute table and select “Field Calculator…”.  Then in Field Calculator I specify TFIELD = “” (that is two double quotes with no space between them).


Note the values change from NULL to blank.


Now let’s select NULL values in TFIELD again with the Select By Attributes tool using “TFIELD IS NULL”.  Look what happens.


Note the blank records were not selected.  This shows that blanks are not the same as NULLs.  You have to be careful of this.  If you wanted all blanks and NULLs, try this expression in the Select By Attributes tool.


Note in this tool I had to use two single quotes with no spaces between for the SQL expression.  This selects all NULLs and blanks.


What if I wanted to calc a NULL value to a field?  First I will select some records, like my blank values in the TFIELD, then using the Field Calculator I specify TFIELD = NULL.



I can do the same for the numeric field.  First I will select all records with the value of 55.


Then using the Field Calculator I specify NFIELD = NULL.  All values of 55 are changed to NULL.


So there you have it.  You are now an expert with dealing with NULLs and hopefully when you setup your data, you will know when to use them and NOT NULL!