“Keeping Up with ArcGIS Pro 2.6” Webinar Q&A

October 26, 2020 Mark Ho

We answer your questions about the newest capabilities and latest features in ArcGIS Pro 2.6. 

Hello fellow ArcGIS Pro stans! Thanks for attending the “Keeping Up with ArcGIS Pro 2.6” webinar on October 8th, 2020. Dylan Trerise and I had a lot of fun presenting and we hope you had fun watching! We are especially grateful you did not hate-watch our reality TV spin on what’s new and exciting with the latest release of our flagship desktop software for the GIS professional.

We kept our promise – no Kardashians in the webinar. Bible! But we did scatter many cliched puns throughout the presentation. Missed out?  Check out the recording and slides to see our silly takes between new mapping functionality and trashy television.

The tribe has spoken – with lots of questions!  Our immunity challenge is to sift through and respond to your Q&A comments. Let’s answer your questions while recapping some of the key new features of ArcGIS Pro 2.6.  Survivors ready?  PRO!


ArcGIS Pro’s Got Graphics

[Mark] ArcGIS Pro 2.6 introduces graphics layers – the ability for you to add graphic elements like shapes, text and pictures to your maps. You can manually “doodle” graphic elements in a map or convert labels into a graphics layer. The demo also featured the new Distance and Direction tool where you can draw geodetic lines, circles, ellipses and rings on your map.

Demo example of adding graphics layers to show the new SkyTrain extension through the Broadway corridor in Vancouver

Q: How did you get the Graphics tab?

A: You need to create a graphic layer first to see the Graphics contextual tab. From your map, in the Layer group, click Add Graphics Layer. If there is a graphics layer in your map, the Graphics tab will be available for you to add and manage your graphic elements.

Q: Is snapping available for graphic items?

A: Here are some scenarios regarding snapping and graphics:

  • Currently, you are not able to snap graphics to features
  • If snapping is enabled, you can use some tools on graphic elements (e.g. use the Measure tool to measure between graphics, use the Create Features tool to snap new features with a graphic)
  • Currently, you are not able to snap a graphic with another graphic element

Q: Is there a way to import graphics from MXD to an APRX?

A: Simply import an ArcMap document using the Import Map tool in the Insert ribbon. Imported graphic elements are converted from annotation groups in ArcMap to graphics layers in ArcGIS Pro. Graphics layers are stored within the ArcGIS Pro project file and are no longer associated with a specific layer or part of the data frame.

Q: Can we import labels to a graphics layer similar to how Convert Labels to Annotation behaved in ArcMap?

A: In ArcMap, the Convert Labels to Annotation tool gives you the option to store your annotations in a database (creating an annotation feature class tied to a feature layer) or to store annotation in the map (as an annotation group). Since graphics layers in ArcGIS Pro are stored in the map with the project file, you are saving your label graphic elements to the map when you Convert Labels to Graphics.  This is essentially the same as saving annotation groups to the map in ArcMap.  If you need to have feature-linked annotation in ArcGIS Pro or for more complex situations, use the Convert Labels to Annotation tool instead.   

Q: Do the graphics transfer well when published to portal?

A: Just like all symbols in ArcGIS Pro, you do need to be careful when publishing symbols to a portal such as ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. Very complex symbology may not be fully supported in a web map. In some cases, complex symbols may be downgraded to a simpler symbol during the sharing process. Test the publishing of complex symbols from ArcGIS Pro to the web. You may want to replace your symbol with something different or you may want to accept the downgraded symbol.


The Amazing Trace

[Mark] We introduced trace networks, a new data type with ArcGIS Pro 2.6. Trace networks provides a simple network solution for non-utility users, using rail or hydro data for example. In the demo, we converted a geometric network to a trace network. Then we performed trace analysis on the network and created a diagram view of the results.

Example of a trace network and diagram view, derived using a geometric network from a subset of the National Hydro Network near Prince Rupert

Q: ­How robust is the trace network compared to a utility network? ­

A: The thrust of this question comes down to – what is the difference between a trace network and a utility network? This excellent blog post introduces the trace network with ArcGIS Pro 2.6 and includes the key differences between both network solutions. The Coles Notes summary:

  • Utility networks are designed for modern utilities using a robust information network and industry-specific rules and structures
  • Trace networks has a flexible schema so users can build simple networks for non-utility users from scratch or from a geometric network

Q: Is the trace network available without any extensions?

A: You do not need an additional extension (e.g. Spatial Analyst or 3D Analyst) to work with trace networks. But you do need to have a Standard or Advanced license level to create, maintain and analyze trace networks.

Q: Is the upstream/downstream based on line direction?

A: Yes, the foundation of a trace network is a network topology. All edges in the network topology must include a flow direction in a trace network.

Q: How is directionality set in a trace network?

A: Initially the direction of flow is established with the digitized direction of the line feature when the network topology is enabled.  Use Display Flow Direction to visualize the flow direction for your edges. And if you need to update a direction of flow, you can use the Set Flow Direction geoprocessing tool to set the new direction by selection set or for an entire feature class.

Q: ­If an update is made in the geodatabase (new point or line), does the trace network have to be updated? ­

A: All trace networks have a network topology that manages and maintains connectivity between the edges (lines) and junctions (points). When the network topology is enabled, creating or modifying edges and junctions is confined to the topology. For example, if you move an edge, the junctions and neighbouring edges will move along with it (a rubber banding effect). As you update your data, use the Validate Network Topology tool (in the ribbon or as a geoprocessing tool) to maintain the integrity of the network’s topology.

If you have a lot of new data to add or edit, then use the Disable Network Topology tool to allow you to make your modifications. When complete, use Enable Network Topology to rebuild the topology and identify any potential errors in the network.

Q: What happens to the attribute tables for the trace?

A: Feature classes in a feature dataset provide the source junctions (points) and edges (lines) used to create a trace network. When a trace network is created, a trace network dataset is generated. The original point and line feature classes participate in the trace network and remain unchanged. Nothing happens to the attribute tables when the trace network is built. For example, if you use a street network to define a trace network, you will have access to all the attributes related to streets.

Q: Are trace network tools available in ArcGIS Online?

A: There is a Trace Downstream tool in ArcGIS Online, which is similar to ArcGIS Pro’s Trace tool using the downstream trace type – where it will find the flow path downstream from specified point locations. But it is important to note that the ArcGIS Online tool utilizes an Esri-hosted elevation service to determine the downstream flow, and not your own authoritative data. 

Q: ­Since there is a new GDB version to support new data types, how will older versions of ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap handle these new versions? ­

A: In the Trace Network demo, the Upgrade Geodatabase tool was used to update the hydro file geodatabase – because trace networks are only supported in the latest version of the geodatabase.  The feature classes in the upgraded geodatabase are still useable in earlier releases of ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap. In the demo example, you can still use the geometric network in ArcMap. But you can use the trace network in ArcMap as it is not a supported data type. Bottom line: you do not need to upgrade a file geodatabase unless you want to leverage newer functionality (like the trace network).


The Real Suitability of ArcGIS Pro

[Dylan] The new interactive Suitability Modeler provides a more dynamic way to explore the best locations for your facilities by showing you the impact of your parameter changes immediately. In the demo, I showed how new locations for mountain lion habitats can be selected using this new tool.

Example of using the Suitability Modeler to find corridors to connect mountain lion populations

Q: How can I use the new Suitability Modeler with a vector point input?

A: Just like before using this tool, in order to perform the raster algebra required you need to have raster inputs for the criteria layers. So, you must turn the point feature class into a raster feature class using interpolation methods. To create a raster input from point vector data, you can use the Interpolation Toolset which will create a continuous surface, i.e. raster, from your input points. This toolset has several different methods to choose from. The simplest method is IDW (inverse distance weighted) where influence of the point decreases with distance from the point.


Extreme Makeover: ArcGIS Pro Edition

Beyond the big highlights, over 150+ enhancements were made to ArcGIS Pro 2.6. Dylan and I couldn’t cover all of them, but we did showcase some of our favourite new and improved features – from improved attribute table manipulation to creating map series with bookmarks. You asked us about several of these potpourri features.

Q: When a backup setting is enabled, will that backup create a new project (.aprx) file with every backup?

A: [Dylan] Nope! Only one backup exists at a time, which are overwritten in every given time period. This backup file is located in the .backups folder which is located in the project's home folder. Also, when you exit ArcGIS Pro normally this backup file will be deleted. The documentation for this feature can be found here.

Q: Does the recovery tool also apply to edits being done into a File Geodatabase or SDE?

A: [Dylan] Short answer: no.

Long answer: changes to a File Geodatabase are saved when you save an edit session from the Edit tab of the ribbon. What is backed up is what is actually contained in the project .aprx file, which is not the related data but things like maps, layouts and symbology. From the reference documentation: "The backup project does not store changes that must be saved separately, such as spatial data edits, changes to table field properties and edits to geoprocessing models."

Since the project file only contains connections to the data and not the actual data, it will not be backing up your actual data. Enterprise relational databases especially have special rules that must be followed for updating and backing up data in order to maintain the integrity of the database. These rules are dictated by the type of database management system such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server.

Q: Do the popups configured with HTML carry over onto the web layer when published to ArcGIS Online?

A: [Dylan] Yes! The Pop-up Contents will be set to “A custom attribute display” for the display setting and if you click the “CONFIGURE” button then “View HTML Source,” you will be able to see the same HTML as you set in ArcGIS Pro.

Demo example of HTML code set in ArcGIS Pro for pop-ups also showing in ArcGIS Online web map

Q: Can I trigger a Survey123 survey to open from my layer pop-up using HTML?

A: [Dylan] Yes. This was possible to set up before from ArcGIS Online by inserting the link into the pop-up configuration, but now you can set it up from ArcGIS Pro before publishing if you want to. You can also pre-populate the survey fields using field parameters.

Q: In the older ArcView applications there were more symbol options. Have these been added to ArcGIS Pro 2.6?

A: [Mark] In the “Save Web Map” demo, there was a search for a new hospital point symbol.  And yes, there were many more options than the default ArcGIS Pro 2D symbols.  That is because several styles were added from different sources:

  • Added system styles that are installed with ArcGIS Pro but need to be explicitly turned on
  • Imported desktop styles from ArcMap *.style files
  • Downloaded ArcGIS Pro solution styles (*.stylx) from the Esri Style organization, then added them into the project

Q: ­Can you format the time stamp? ­

A: [Mark] One of our demos showed how to use the %t% timestamp variable in geoprocessing tool output parameters to insert a numeric time stamp into the dataset name. This is particularly useful if you are scheduling your tool to run at a certain time or if your geoprocessing results are time sensitive. Currently you are unable to format the numeric time stamp. But if you are curious:

  • Enter the output feature class of a geoprocessing tool as C:\Data\NewOutput.gdb\Buffer_%t%
  • Run the tool on October 8, 2020 at 10:15am
  • After the tool is run, the output dataset that would be created will be named C:\Data\NewOutput.gdb\Buffer_10082020101500

Q: ­Can that time stamp happen at the front end of the name­?

A: [Mark] There are restrictions on how to name feature classes. You are not able to start a feature class name with a “%” symbol. But if you use an underscore (or a letter A-Z) followed by the timestamp variable, then the time can be added to the front end of the output feature class name. Borrowing from the example above:

  • Enter the output feature class of a geoprocessing tool as C:\Data\NewOutput.gdb\_%t%Buffer
  • Run the tool on October 8, 2020 at 10:15am
  • After the tool is run, the output dataset that would be created will be named C:\Data\NewOutput.gdb\_10082020101500Buffer

You made it to the end of this blog post!  Congratulations, you are now Head of Household. For your efforts, we offer a bonus pun-tastic picture just for you.

Rejected webinar graphic (for obvious reasons)

Before we pack our knives and go, a special shoutout to Dylan for her hard work, awesome presentation, and answering your questions. And thank you for continuing to support our webinars and for being a great audience. You will always receive a rose at our rose ceremony!  Until next time, SASHAY AWAY!

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here

About the Author

Mark Ho

Mark Ho is a Technology Solutions Specialist with Esri Canada in Vancouver. His mission statement is simple: to share his serious love of mapping (without being too serious). Mark nurtured his passion with a civil engineering degree from University of British Columbia and a GIS diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. He then spent 13+ years as an instructor with Esri Inc., travelling across America and teaching everything from attributes to z-coordinates. In 2011, Mark returned north, where you may have seen him at our user conferences and webinars. Between demos, you can find him collecting maps, exploring the world, listening to Coldplay—and collecting more maps.

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