Our Insights

My Three Favorite Features in ArcGIS Q1 Release — for ArcGIS Professionals (1 of 2)

May 21, 2019

By Robert Krisher
Senior GIS Consultant, POWER Engineers

The first of two articles on the latest release of ArcGIS, Esri’s mapping and analytics platform.

With each release, Esri has been building up the functionality of ArcGIS Pro to meet and exceed the functionality of ArcMap. I often focus on these enhancements in ArcGIS Pro with a typical end user in mind, but in this article,  I want to focus on how they’re also improving the experience for power users and administrators. Here are my favorite three:

#1: Projects are Optional

I work with several people who have made the switch to ArcGIS Pro, yet still rely on ArcCatalog for many of their administrative tasks because ArcGIS Pro required creating and maintaining projects for all your work. But in the latest release, they allow you to use ArcGIS Pro without creating a project. They even allow you to launch the application directly to open an object in the application. I will still be maintaining separate projects to organize my work, but it’s nice to know if I’m on a new machine that doesn’t have access to those projects, I won’t need to go through the process of setting one up!

Along similar lines, ArcGIS Pro added a preview tab (below) to the catalog window in this release, allowing users to look at a layer or a table without first adding  it to a map. I’m embarrassed to admit how many projects I have that include multiple unnamed maps in them just because I was using them to preview some dataset and forgot to delete them.

#2: Managing Attribute Rules

Attribute Rules are hands down one of the most powerful tools added to an ArcGIS administrator’s toolset since they introduced Python scripting. One of the things that has hurt Attribute Rules’ adoption is  the lack of a good user interface for creating and managing rules.  But  in the 10.7 release, Attribute Rules have a proper user interface for managing the hundreds (or potentially thousands!) of rules required for a given project.

The design pane for attribute rules can be reached by right clicking a feature class in an enterprise database and selecting “Design > Attribute Rules.”

You are then presented with the user interface for managing your Attribute Rules.

You can expect my full write up soon about some of the awesome features you can leverage with your attribute rules, but for now I’ll just say you should pay special attention to the “triggers” and “execution” sections of the form.

#3: Improved Arcade Functionality

Now that we’ve got a user interface to help us manage these rules, let’s talk about why I expect us to be creating hundreds of these rules. If you’re familiar with Arcade (prior to this release) you know they were restrictive in ArcGIS Enterprise — only able to interact with values on the feature itself or those derived from a sequence in the database. The 10.7 release changed this with the introduction of FeatureSets. How many of you maintain a MapID, FacilityID, or LabelText field in your GIS?  These new FeatureSets will allow you to create Arcade expressions to reach out into other layers in the map or tables in your database to calculate these values for features in your GIS. The following example shows how to populate a field on our feature based off its location within another polygon, but you can use similar techniques to get values from related records or lookup tables.

Because FeatureSets can be expensive to use, they are only available via Attribute Rules (and  can’t be used for operations like labelling or rendering features). The good news is that you can always set up an attribute rule to maintain a field on a feature for this purpose! I put together this quick chart below to help me keep track of this information, but you can always refer to the online help ( https://developers.arcgis.com/arcade/guide/profiles/ ) for more detail.


This article focused on some of the more technical features of this release because  I picked out the most important functionality for the largest number of people. In my next article, I will  share my favorite new features for end users and managers. In the meantime, please reach out to me if you have any questions about ArcGIS Pro desktop, mobile, or web applications. I’ll be glad to give you a more targeted breakdown of the improvements in this release