Our Insights

Top 5 reasons why I made the switch to ArcGIS Pro (1 of 5)

October 13, 2016

by Robert Krisher
Senior Consultant at POWER Engineers
This article was originally published as a LinkedIn Article

Reason #1: The New Graphics Engine
ArcGIS Pro vs. ArcMap?

Even though it’s been out for a few years now, I’ve noticed that many of my clients have been hesitant about spending time with the new ArcGIS Pro.  While Esri has done a great job promoting it at their user conferences, many users, particularly those who are involved in the utility industry, have felt left behind and have struggled to see the benefits of the new platform and how it can be used to improve their day to day activities.

After being involved with the ArcGIS Pro alpha for over a year, I’ve found myself being drawn to use ArcGIS Pro more and more.  While I appreciate that I can’t use ArcGIS Pro for all the work that I do (at least not until the new Utility Network is officially released!), I have found that I am now using ArcGIS Pro for all of my map production creation, web service publishing, and any editing tasks I need to do that don’t rely on working with network features.

I decided to put together this series of articles to lay out some of the most compelling technical / functional reasons I have for making the switch in the hopes that I can get more users using this new platform or at the very least considering what the transition from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro might look like for their organization.

How it draws

Once you’ve opened up ArcGIS Pro and loaded a map document, the first thing you’ll be struck by is how much better everything looks.  As soon as you start panning around the map, you’ll notice that everything seems to be drawing faster as well.  Both are because Esri has changed how their graphics rendering engine works.

Faster Drawing

If you compare total draw times between ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro, you’ll see that they’re fairly similar.  Then why does ArcGIS Pro seem to draw faster?  Because the map is continuously drawing as you pan around, and the screen is updated as each layer finishes drawing instead of waiting for the whole map to finish drawing.  So now when you open up your map, you will immediately see data start to be drawn. And as you pan around, you’ll see the new data start to be drawn without the entire screen going blank.

Cleaner Lines

However you describe it, the line work drawn by ArcMap is staircased and jagged and in some situations can look very rough.  Solid lines are jagged and uneven, and adding any sort of dash/dot template to the line just exaggerates the problem.  ArcGIS Pro has overcome many of these issues with the new drawing engine.  Here’s how it works.  The addition of several anti-aliasing techniques consistently draws clean lines.  A new standardized way of defining your symbols allows all line types to use advanced features like caps, joins and offsets as well as allowing you to define global and per-symbol effects.  Even when you do run into jagged and uneven lines in ArcGIS Pro, you can usually compensate for it by adjusting your line template.

The following screenshots show a congested area of lines as drawn in ArcMap using a 2-point line:

This is the same area and layer in ArcGIS Pro:

The following is the same area in ArcMap but with a 1-point dotted line template applied:

This is the same area but with an ArcGIS Pro dashed line style applied to it:

If you’re a user who spends several hours every day in ArcMap, I highly encourage you to download and test out ArcGIS Pro; it only takes a few seconds for you to start enjoying the benefits.  The new line work will significantly reduce the amount of eye strain you experience and the faster draw times will start saving you time!

About the Author:

Robert is a Senior Consultant in POWER’s Geospatial and Asset Management group with over 10 years of industry experience. Robert excels at pushing the boundaries of what is possible with GIS and related technologies at utilities, often by re-purposing proven technologies and methods in clever ways. As an active member of many early access programs across the industry and author of more than a dozen published articles, Robert is a recognized expert with Esri’s latest technology including ArcGIS Pro and the new Utility Network. He loves finding innovative solutions to complex challenges and sharing his insights with the GIS community. If you have any questions or comments for Robert, you can contact him at robert.krisher@powereng.com.