• Mara Stoica

The End for ArcMap?

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

In a blog post on October 21st, Esri has announced the end of ArcMap development. 10.8.1 is the last release of ArcMap. There will not be a 10.9.

If you're an ArcMap user, is this the right time to panic?

Not really. The end of the development just means that there will be no new versions. There will be no new functionality added. That feature you wanted, that idea you submitted ... not gonna happen. Not in ArcMap anyway. But, ArcMap will still be supported until 2026, so bugs will get fixed. The Product Lifecycle page has some more information about what that looks like.

So, what now?

If you have not yet made the switch to ArcGIS Pro, this is the right time to start giving it some attention. Esri has been striving to achieve feature parity with ArcMap and they've made a lot of progress. But, a lot of things are different in ArcGIS Pro. Switching is not going to be an overnight thing. Pro looks differently, it's organized differently, it has different workflows, etc. Editing for example is much different in Pro. So, start planning this now.

What about ArcMap AddIns?

You have spent hundreds, if not thousands of development hours on ArcMap AddIns. Can you migrate them? No, you cannot. The Pro SDK and ArcObjects are completely different. All the custom AddIns from ArcMap will have to be re-written in Pro. So, if you have a lot of them, you may want to start ASAP. And don't forget to account for training time for your developers. The Pro SDK is different enough that your devs won't be able to just take their ArcObjects skills and apply them here. Here are some scenarios to consider if you feel overwhelmed with the amount of additional effort this will take.

  • Hire a third party to do the migration for you. These are completed, and ideally documented tools. A GIS development firm with both ArcObjects and ArcGIS Pro SDK experience should be able to handle the whole migration without much strain on your staff.

  • Hire a third party to help with the migration. You'll probably want your in-house devs to know how to support these AddIns once they're migrated. A third party GIS development firm can work together with your devs to migrate the AddIns and also teach your devs best practices about the Pro SDK.

  • Take a stab at it yourself. If you have the staff availability, have your devs migrate the AddIns themselves. You can always hire someone else if the effort becomes too much. You can also hire someone to just do code reviews to make sure your devs are following best practices. That's usually a fraction of the cost of development, and it gives you the peace of mind of having quality code.

But Python scripts stay the same, right?

Almost. ArcMap uses Python 2.7, while ArcGIS Pro uses Python 3. There are some differences between the two, so you'll want to test and most likely update your scripts to work in Pro. But the updates will be minor.

Anything else to consider from the development perspective?

Well, if you're unfortunate enough to still have VBA macros, those are most definitely not supported in Pro. You will have to migrate them to the Pro SDK just like the ArcMap AddIns. And you'll want to become familiar with Arcade. It's the new kid on the block and it's here to stay. An Esri developed expression language that is slowly making its way into all Esri products, including ArcGIS Pro.

What do we think about this?

ArcGIS Pro is a great product that truly brings GIS forward. It can be a bit hard to get used to. It is very different, but we have found that once folks get moved over, they really like it. It kind of gets us back to working on GIS again and worrying less about software.

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