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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.