While thinking about and starting to write a blogpost on a recent publication, Quantifying Distance Overestimation From Global Positioning System in Urban Spaces, I thought it would be interesting to visualize some data with 3D software. I’ve used ArcScene in the past with great success, but thought to give ArcGIS Pro a shot. Below is my experience and first thoughts using ArcGIS Pro.

Full disclosure:, I’m a Mac user, so Windows users may not share my experience.

Why have I waited to use ArcGIS Pro?

I have yet to see one GIS User or use case of ArcGIS Pro from anyone other than Esri. I’ve been afraid to spend the time testing ArcGIS Pro and figured there’s more open source tools that would be more beneficial to learn. However, I had this use case where it prompted me to dive in to ArcGIS Pro.

I do run ArcGIS Desktop on my Mac hardware and love it. I use Parallels. I mostly stick to 10.1 after experiencing a lot of bugs in 10.2 +. I plan on upgrading to newer versions of ArcGIS after I finish my Data Science course-load this spring.

Getting Started

This summer I had to setup an ArcGIS Online account just to install and open ArcGIS Pro. Then I had to recently ask to have approval for access to use ArcGIS Pro in Columbia University’s Enterprise account. While the folks that administer our Esri software and account are awesome, I feel that Esri should make it much easier to evaluate their software without a paywall or user id wall.

First impression

My first experience was that ArcGIS Pro was laggy and did not interact well with my Virtual Machine using Parallels. I couldn’t pan around after I added my data (shapefile with Z values and about 400,000 records - GPS points). I use Windows 7 for my Esri software but mostly stick with Mac OSX for all my FOSS4G software. Esri does not support Apple hardware and it is evident.

My machine thinking every mouse move was a identify gesture


I tweeted around and got some advice. First was to upgrade ArcGIS Pro to version 1.2, which required also updating Microsoft .NET. Second was to check out Micah Williamson’s blogpost: PRO ON PRO (ON PRO) which is a blogpost on using ArcGIS Pro on a Mac. Micah provides some good guidance on setting up your Virtual Machine on your Mac.

I upgraded my CPU settings… arcgispro

…and my Video settings. arcgispro

After some updates:

After doing all these updates. It still felt like I was playing with beta software. My Mac mouse and trackpad could not interact with the dataframe. It did not behave like most software behaves in a virtual environment. So I wonder (and would love to know but don’t want to buy new hardware - I have 2 personal Mac machines and 1 at my office), what the experience is like on actual Windows hardware. Which if not much better (or the fact that most users don’t have the minimum requirements for GPU, RAM and CPU), begs the question, who is using ArcGIS Pro in production or a non-testing capacity?


Esri introduced the Ribbon toolbar system in ArcGIS Pro. I’ll let the rest of the internet comment on the Ribbon toolbar interface that was popularized by Microsoft.

Windows-only philosophy

As Micah Williamson’s blogpost: PRO ON PRO (ON PRO) points and references Mac sales trends, Do I even need top point out how Apple was the only PC maker to have double digit growth in the past year?, ArcGIS Pro, like the Desktop product, is only supported for Windows. I would like to see support for Mac and Linux.

To reiterate:

I have yet to see one GIS User or use case of ArcGIS Pro from anyone other than an Esri employee. Please let me know if you love ArcGIS Pro and why. I’d love to try it out more but I’m not sure I have the bandwidth or patience. I’m willing to change my mind and am open to civil conversation. A lot of my professional success is from learning to use Esri software so I’d love if they continued to put out great products but at the moment I’m just not convinced ArcGIS Pro is for me. :)


Also, please note, a non-technical support role person, a dedicated GISer and Esri employee did provide some very helpful advice to help me get my VM configured optimally for ArcGIS Pro. So I want to thank him for his help (though I cautiously won’t mention his name). I imagine there are great folks that work on ArcGIS Pro and I think it has great potential but it seems the failure is in the leadership at Esri for making a new product so hard to test (with all the paywalls and ArcGIS Online account setup) and then it feeling like I cannot use it in production.