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Guest blog by Micah Williamson, Geospatial Services Manager at Cloudpoint Geographics Inc.

I really “grew up “ in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field using ArcGIS. I started using Esri Products in college in spring of 2000, That was my first GIS class at Illinois State University. We used ArcView 3.1 and ArcInfo 7.0.1. I know ArcGIS was out as Version 8, but it wasn’t in our labs so I didn’t even know about it. At my first job they had an old Sun Solaris workstation that apparently ran one of the first versions of Arc – and by the time I got there it was sitting in the back gathering dust. ArcGIS had to run on pretty serious workstations back then; A coworker with the largest PC named his “Beast” it probably had 512 MB of RAM or something ridiculous (editors note: LOL!). The modern version of ArcGIS desktop is ArcMap, which has always looked like a Windows program. In fact there were rumors that it ran on the same “chassis” as MS Word. ArcMap is the core program that GIS practitioners used to create and edit spatial data and maps. It is much like AutoDesk in that there is a paper space as well as a data view. In many circles ArcGIS and ArcMap are the same thing. In fact ArcGIS is the name given to the entire suite of GIS software from Esri. Most of the same practitioners only use one or two products of ArcGIS.

Fast forward to 2011 when I was introduced to my first MacBook (GIS people really live totally in a PC world). In the 90s and 2000’s, I assume Apple had enough to keep it self busy without trying to hard to get into the GIS market! Most Apple users I knew were graphic designers, and we didn’t want them making maps anyway (no offense to graphic designers!). I was given a MacBook and told to get our county GIS on to the Apple store. The only interaction at that time that Esri had for GIS on Mac OS X was through a browser. With the help of the Esri team, we got an app up and running after a few long months. The app that we created used RESTful end points as the web hook into the data. These hooks were put into Xcode and the rest is app history (literally because it’s not longer in the iTunes Store). As a unintended consequence my time on that Macbook got me hooked into the Apple world. Since the time I have stubbornly and sometimes be grudgingly used my MacBook with ArcGIS. That is only due to using Parallels. At first I used Bootcamp to realize the whole power of the Macbook. That was too much rebooting and I worked my way through every virtualization software out there. I kept coming back to Parallels.

Currently I boot into windows several times a week for ArcGIS Desktop use, if not everyday – ArcMap is the flagship product from Esri. This runs easily and without too much effort on Parallels. We create maps, create applications, edit data, run extensions, and install Esri add-ons all without hardly a hiccup. I like to joke to my co-workers that my Parallels Windows 10 install is cleaner and more efficient than their PC Bloat-ware ridden laptops. I do allocate a full 8bg of RAM to the install and 2GB of vGPU – This is excessive for ArcMap but not for it’s little brother ‘ArcGIS Pro’. Pro (as it’s been shortened to) is a complete re-write of ArcGIS desktop. It’s not without STRONG opposition that Esri is moving this way. They spent months and months telling us users that it is not a replacement of ArcMap. So no one took it seriously, but it is. ArcMap is a single threaded 32-bit application. It has it’s severe limits. The minimum requirements of ArcPro are hefty. I recently completed my first application completely using Pro. It was painful. The latest version is a bit better and it will continue to improve. My current list of Esri Related products running on Windows 10 (Dual Screens) with Parallels is: ArcGIS Desktop 10.4 (ArcMap, ArcCatalog ArcScene, ArcGlobe), ArcGIS Pro 1.2, ArcEarth, ArcPad 10.2, ArcPad Studio, Operations Dashboard and ArcGIS Collector (Beta). None of these applications can run on OS X. Plus supporting applications like MS Access 2016 , Excel 2016, Fiddler4 & Python IDLE.

Yes, ArcGIS is going more to the web-based SaaS, as well as 3D. Even now there are several Esri applications that can run on OS X but they all pull content from the web. There is going to be more live streaming of data and clint-side rendering within GIS applications. GPU and rendering is a huge issue as is network bandwidth. I don’t exactly know what direction Esri is going with their 3D rendering engine, but it would be great is Parallels could coincide with that in the future (there is a funky flashing effect that Pro has while rendering 3D if Parallels is not set up properly, as well ArcEarth shows up blank if a proxy is enabled in the internet options of IE).

As for me, I plan on getting a New MacBook this year with Retina display so that i will have an actual GPU to utilize and most likely review Pro on Parallels again after that!

Stable release
Operating systemWindows
TypeGIS software

ArcMap is the main component of Esri's ArcGIS suite of geospatial processing programs, and is used primarily to view, edit, create, and analyze geospatial data. ArcMap allows the user to explore data within a data set, symbolize features accordingly, and create maps. This is done through two distinct sections of the program, the table of contents and the data frame. In October 2020, it was announced that there are no plans to release 10.9 in 2021,[2] and that ArcMap would no longer be supported after March 1, 2026. Esri are encouraging their users to transition to ArcGIS Pro.



ArcMap users can create and manipulate data sets to include a variety of information. For example, the maps produced in ArcMap generally include features such as north arrows, scale bars, titles, legends, neat lines, etc. The software package includes a style-set of these features. As well as the ability to upload numerous other reference styles to apply to any mapping function.

The ArcGIS suite is available at four license levels: Basic, Standard, or Advanced (formerly ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo), and Pro. Each step up in the license provides the user with more extensions that allow a variety of querying to be performed on a data set. Pro is the highest level of licensing, and allows the user to use such extensions as 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and the Geostatistical Analyst as well as numerous new functionalities at each new release.


The layout of ArcMap may seem overwhelming at first glance, but when a second look is taken what is seen is two distinct sections of ArcMap. The data frame where information is spatial and the table of contents where data is aligned in terms of importance symbology is changed.

Data frame[edit]

The section of ArcMap where data is spatially applied from the table of contents. The data comes in feature, rasters, and layers. While working in the spatial sector of the data, ground units (miles, kilometers, feet, meters, etc...) are used and represented in the coordinate system defined. This is where the views can be changed between Layout and Data View. The data will be ordered according to the order in the Table of Contents.

The user can create multiple data frames within one table of contents. The data frame while in that view will only view a single data frame at a time.

Table of Contents[edit]

The table of contents is the way that ArcMap represents what data is available to put into the data frame and how each layer is symbolized. The normal way to organize the layers is from top to bottom. With the base map elements such as a street map or DEM listed at the bottom the thematic map layers can be placed above to convey the message the map is being designed for. [3]

Other forms to view the table of contents include listing layers by source; visibility; and selection. The most basic form is to stay with drawing order as described above.


Views are put into place to allow a user to choose between either data view or the layout view. To choose between these views there are two buttons in the bottom left of the data frame to choose from. Navigating through the menus is another option, View > Layout View or View > Data View.[4]


The purpose of layout view is for the final design of a map. This is the view where the placement of the essential map elements are inserted, such as the north arrow, scale bar, etc. While in this view the user also has control of the data frame just as they would in the Data View, but is mainly concerned with the page space and formatting of spacing. [5] If multiple Data Frames are used they can be combined while in the layout view to fit onto one single page.

Data View[edit]

This is the geographic view of the data a user imports. The user can explore, display, and query data and edit files if the correct extensions are owned. The bulk of geographic processing will happen while in this view, such as symbology, import of data, editing, coordinate system definition. Only one Data Frame can be viewed at a time while in this view.

File types[edit]

ArcMap is run using primarily Shape Files and in more recent versions Geodatabases can be used to store larger sets of data. These file formats are what are uploaded into the program to view spatial data. Users can also upload .dbf or database files to link important attribute information to spatial data. Comma separated values (.csv) can be used, as long as they are converted to a .dbf before upload into the program.

When a map is saved a new file extension is created (.mxd). This file does not save the layers or spatial data with it, only the relative pathnames. What this means is if the data used in the map is not in the same location as the previous time it was opened there will be an error. This assists with keeping the file small and reduces the amount of redundancy in data management.


There are three main printing techniques and one multipage technique. The multipage technique can be found in a help page on ESRIs website.

  1. In layout view after completing all desired formatting saving the layout view as a .pdf then printing form there will reduce the amount of possible miscommunication within the computer. Keeping what the user did exactly what they get when they print.
  2. While in data view for the user to zoom to their desired extent then go to File > Print
  3. In layout view after completing all desired formatting moving directly to File > Print will print out the specified layout.


Temporal Analyst[edit]

Temporal Analyst is an extension for storage, management, processing, plotting and analysis of virtually any time-related data inside ArcGIS application and was developed by DHI. Temporal Analyst tool for GIS brings time series data management directly into ArcGIS and provides fully dynamic data handling, modeling and monitoring.



External links[edit]

See also[edit]

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  1. ^'Esri Support ArcMap 10.8 (10.8.1)'. Esri. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  2. ^Angel, Javier (October 21, 2020). 'ArcMap Continued Support'. Esri. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  3. ^'Using the table of contents—Help ArcGIS for Desktop'. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  4. ^'Displaying maps in data view and layout view—Help ArcGIS for Desktop'. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  5. ^'Displaying maps in data view and layout view—Help ArcGIS for Desktop'. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  6. ^'ESRI News - Spring 2000 ArcNews -- A Robust ESRI Turns the Corner on the Century'. 2000-08-16. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
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  9. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 8.2 Now Available'. 2002-10-08. Archived from the original on October 8, 2002. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  10. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 8.3 Now Available'. 2003-02-22. Archived from the original on February 22, 2003. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  11. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 9 Now Available'. 2004-05-24. Archived from the original on May 24, 2004. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  12. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 9.1 Now Available'. 2006-05-27. Archived from the original on May 27, 2006. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  13. ^'Press Release -- ESRI Announces ArcGIS 9.2 Is Now Shipping'. 2006-11-17. Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  14. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 9.3 Improves Your Entire GIS Workflow'. 2008-06-30. Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  15. ^'Press Release -- ArcGIS 9.3.1 Unlocks the Potential of Your GIS'. 2009-05-03. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  16. ^'ArcGIS 10 Transforms the Way People Use GIS'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  17. ^'ArcGIS 10.1 Simplifies Sharing of Geographic Information'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  18. ^'ArcGIS 10.2 Delivers Transformational Capabilities'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  19. ^'ArcGIS for (Desktop, Engine, Server) 10.2.1 Announcement Samples and Utilities'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  20. ^'ArcGIS for (Desktop, Engine, Server) 10.2.2 Samples and Utilities'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  21. ^'ArcGIS 10.3: The Next Generation of GIS Is Here ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  22. ^'ArcGIS 10.3.1 ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  23. ^'ArcGIS 10.4 is here! ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  24. ^'ArcGIS 10.5: New Release Transforms Enterprise GIS ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2016-12-23.
  25. ^'What's New in ArcMap 10.5.1 ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  26. ^'What's New in ArcMap 10.6 ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  27. ^'What's New in ArcMap ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  28. ^'What's New in ArcMap ArcGIS Blog'. Retrieved 2020-03-10.

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