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Time for an Update: What's New in ArcGIS 10.6 and ArcGIS Pro 2.1

It's mid-November. Somehow this year has slipped by quickly enough with only a month shy of ringing in the New Year with fireworks and a stack of new Esri software releases. Over the last month, Esri has started rolling out early snippets of its newest iterations to help prep for the coming full releases in January 2018. These iterations - ArcGIS 10.6 Pre-Release and ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta 1 - are available now for those looking to get a head-start.

ArcGIS 10.6 Pre-Release

If you have stayed up-to-date with news out of Esri Dev Summit and Esri User Conference this year, you may know that ArcMap 10.6 is scheduled to be Esri's last major release for this product outside of any necessary debug and patch releases (e.g., ArcMap 10.6.x). If you were not aware until reading that last sentence, fret not. Esri staff has already reassured its community that ArcMap will be supported for a few years before it is fully depreciated.

ArcMap 10.6 itself is not predicted to include a ton of new features as its creators are focused on encouraging users to begin making the switch to ArcGIS Pro. As with any significant platform change, this transition could be troublesome for some and will undoubtedly take time for data and hands to properly embrace. We will talk more over the coming weeks about things to consider when ramping up for this move, but for now...let's talk about the iterations before us.

ArcGIS 10.6 as its final release is due in January 2018. For the early birds, its Pre-Release is available in applicable My Esri accounts. Primarily a quality improvement release, this iteration features the following changes:

Geoprocessing Improvements

Data Management Toolbox

Beginning with 10.6.x geodatabases, it will no longer be possible to create the ST_Raster type with the Create Raster Type tool.

Spatial Analyst Toolbox

The Distance toolset features the following changes:

  • Introduction of the Cost Path as Polyline tool, similar to the Cost Path tool with the exception that it outputs a polyline feature class.

  • Several tools now support parallel processing, including Cost Allocation, Cost Distance, Euclidean Allocation, and Euclidean Distance.

Within the Generalization toolset, the Nibble tool now supports parallel processing. Additionally, it features two new parameters - Nibble NoData Cells and Input Zone Raster - to allow the user more control over the process.

The Hydrology toolset now includes the following functionality:

  • Introduction of the Flow Distance tool for calculating the minimum downslope distance for each cell to the stream into which they flow.

  • The Flow Accumulation tool now supports the output data type of Double.

  • The Flow Direction tool now provides the user with more choices for algorithms - original algorithm (D8), multiple flow direction (MFD), and D-Infinity (DINF) - via the Flow Direction Type parameter from which to determine the direction of flow.

  • Several tools now support parallel processing, including Basin, Fill, Flow Accumulation, Flow Direction, Sink, Stream Link, and Watershed.

Data Enhancements

PostgreSQL Integration

The PostGIS geography type can now be used to store spatial data in PostgreSQL databases and geodatabases in PostgreSQL. To use, the database administrator must enable the database for PostGIS and specify the appropriate configuration keyword based on the data type examples below as well as meet any pre-defined requirements for ArcGIS.

  • For feature classes in a database, choose the PG_GEOGRAPHY configuration keyword.

  • For feature classes in a geodatabase in PostgreSQL, choose a configuration keyword that the GEOMETRY_STORAGE parameter set to PG_GEOGRAPHY - such as the DEFAULTS keyword, the PG_GEOGRAPHY keyword, or a custom keyword defined by the geodatabase administrator.

In addition to the above integration, a new SQL function is available for ST_Geometry feature classes in PostgreSQL to allow for the return of individual geometry within a multipart geometry when querying from a SQL client. This function - ST_GeomFromCollection - is available when creating a 10.6.x geodatabase in PostgreSQL, upgrading the geodatabase in PostgreSQL to 10.6, or updating the ST_Geometry type in your PostgreSQL database with the 10.6 ST_Geometry library.

Support Modifications

As of 10.6.x, the following are no longer supported:

  • ST_Raster type

  • Upgrading the multiple database model geodatabase in SQL Server

  • Registering an enterprise geodatabase as the managed geodatabase for the hosting server of an ArcGIS Enterprise portal

  • PostgreSQL 9.3

  • DB2 v9.7 and v10.1

Extension Updates

The Network Dataset toolset within Network Analyst has been updated in this release to include new tools, such as:

  • Introduction of the Make Network Dataset Layer tool, allowing the creation of a network dataset layer from a network dataset that is referenced using its catalog path.

  • The Create Template from Network Dataset tool creates a file containing the schema of an existing network dataset.

  • Piggy-backing on the previous tool, the Create Network Dataset from Template tool is now available to create a new network dataset using the schema from the template file.

ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta 1

Courtesy of Esri's Early Adopter Program, those who wish to get access to the ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta ahead of its final release may sign up with their qualifying Esri ID. With the release of ArcGIS Pro this past summer, we saw the platform begin to inch towards the finishing line - with that line being its parity with ArcMap. There is still a ways to go, keeping in mind that much of the jump at this point will be ensuring the ArcGIS SDK continues to evolve to support development and that users can effectively manage the learning curve that may come with working in a new environment. That is a tale for a different time though.

For now, let's talk about what the ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta - and eventually, the final release - will introduce.

Add Dynamic and Interactive Tables to Layout

This release will expand upon the dynamic charting previously introduced in version 2.0 by extending that functionality to dynamic tables. Various tables, including Excel spreadsheets and attribute tables, can now be added to the map layout with the option turn fields on and off, reorder fields, and customize the display. Attribute tables placed in the layout take this one step further by allowing filtering, especially as it applies to those visible features. This means that as the map view changes so too does the table and information shown.

Connect to SAP HANA Geodatabases

Furthering collaboration between Esri and SAP, this release will support SAP HANA as an enterprise geodatabase with support for advanced platform capabilities.

Add Branches to ModelBuilder

ArcGIS ModelBuilder in this newest release will up the ante by incorporating tools that support the creation of if-then-else branching logic in models to test conditional statements.

What Now?

As previously noted, these releases in their finality are due out in January 2018. Those wishing to get a sneak peek into new capabilities and fixes can jump on the bandwagon early as long as it's kept in mind that these releases are not feature complete and may see some adjustment come their final form. For those who have yet to dabble in the world of ArcGIS Pro, start by checking out Esri's resources on learning the platform and stay tuned for future tips on ramping up your team (and your data) for this new environment.


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