Esri’s Sunsetting ArcMap. What You Need To Do To Prepare.

At ROK we are often asked, “When will ESRI be ripping ArcMap from my cold dead hands?”  Many are in the same place in regard to transitioning to ArcGIS Pro – they’ve dabbled with it (for better or worse), they know they know they need to move to Pro – but they haven’t gone all in just yet.  We know that Version 10.8.1 is the end of the line for releases but the fact that it will still be supported until 2026 makes it easy to put off the transition.

Excerpt From The ESRI ArcMap Continued Support Page:

ArcGIS 10.8.1 is the current release of ArcMap and will continue to be supported until March 01, 2026 as established in the ArcGIS Desktop Product Life Cycle.

We do not have plans to release an ArcMap 10.9 with the ArcGIS releases in 2021. This means the 10.8.x series will be the final release series of ArcMap and will be supported until March 01, 2026.

Does This Mean That ArcMap Is Going Away?

No. Even after support for ArcMap ends in 2026, customers can continue to use ArcMap as long as their license is valid. However, all desktop development efforts are focused on ArcGIS Pro, and customers are encouraged to migrate to ArcGIS Pro.

What Esri software/applications are part of the ArcMap support Product Life Cycle?

  • ArcMap
  • ArcCatalog
  • ArcMap extensions (including ArcScene and ArcGlobe, which are part of 3D Analyst)
  • ArcReader
  • The Desktop ArcObjects SDK and ArcGIS Engine
Will Esri Issue Any Updates Or Patches To The ArcMap 10.8.X Releases?

Yes. While 10.8 is the last major release of ArcMap, we will continue to update and patch the 10.8.x releases to address security and third-party issues as established in the ArcGIS Desktop Product Life Cycle.

What Does Esri Recommend Customers Do?

We recommend that customers start migrating their projects and workflows from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro.

The ROK Technologies team agrees; start migrating to ArcGIS Pro.  ArcGIS Pro has come a long way and has some nice features that ArcMap does not, in short – ArcGIS Pro is ready for Prime Time.

ArcMap, even though it may be working fine now, may not work as well in the future. As ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online continue to evolve, we expect that there will be compatibility issues with ArcMap and these platforms.

Let’s Take A Look At Some Of The Guidance From ESRI.
Can I Administer ArcGIS Server 10.9 Using ArcMap 10.8.1?

No, ArcGIS Server 10.9 cannot be administered using ArcMap. This is because the ability to administer ArcGIS Server from ArcMap required the two components be at the same release version. Consider using the ArcGIS Server Manager web app to administer your server site.

Can I Publish A Service To ArcGIS Server 10.9 From ArcGIS Desktop?

Generally, yes. If you’re publishing a geoprocessing service, the ArcGIS Desktop version must match ArcGIS Server. Learn more about geoprocessing service compatibility

However, publishing GIS services from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Server 10.9.x is deprecated. After the 10.9.x release cycle, publishing services from ArcGIS Desktop won’t be supported. It’s recommended that you do not publish new services from ArcGIS Desktop and that you begin migrating existing services to the ArcGIS Pro service runtime.

Editing data store properties during publishing is considered an administrative process, which has compatibility limitations.

Read more here:  Administering GIS Services on ArcGIS Server 10.9

The ArcGIS 2021 Releases, Which Include ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9 And 10.9.1, Will Be The Last To Contain Both The ArcMap And ArcGIS Pro-Based Runtimes.

Starting with the ArcGIS 2022 releases, only the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime will be included.

ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9 will include migration tooling to help you prepare for these changes.

Will This Change Affect Me?

The removal of the ArcMap-based runtime for ArcGIS Enterprise will affect you if you have ArcGIS Server services leveraging the ArcMap-based runtime.  This includes workflows that publish from ArcMap and/or consume services that were originally published from ArcMap.

It is important to understand that even if you have already successfully transitioned all new publishing to use ArcGIS Pro, you may still have old services running that were originally published from ArcMap.  Any such services will need to be identified to ensure that they can be migrated to the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime.

When Do I Need To Migrate My Services To Use The ArcGIS Pro-Based Runtime?

You can start migrating your services to the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime right away but you may want to wait – ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9.x, part of the ArcGIS 2021 releases, will include an UpdateArcMapServices tool to help you out.  This tool will quickly and easily switch compatible services from the ArcMap-based runtime to the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime.  For services that are not compatible, such as map services with a server object extension (SOE) or server object interceptor (SOI), and geoprocessing services, these services will need to be manually migrated from the ArcMap-based runtime to the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime.  Stay tuned for the details of migration workflows with the upcoming releases.

ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9.x will be the only set of releases to include these tooling and migration paths, as it is the last opportunity to have ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro-based services run side by side.

The ArcGIS 2022 releases of ArcGIS Enterprise will only contain the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime.  If you’re using ArcGIS Server services built off the ArcMap-based runtime, they will need to be migrated or republished before you upgrade to an ArcGIS 2022 release or any subsequent release.

Read more here:  ArcGIS Runtime

Compatible Enterprise Geodatabase Releases

You do not have to keep your geodatabase and ArcGIS clients at the same release, but it is recommended that you do so. Geodatabases and client software are designed to work together, and if you let one get too many releases away from the other, you risk encountering problems or unexpected behavior.

This is especially true when you use a mix of client versions at your site. A newer client can create newer dataset types in the geodatabase that older clients cannot access. For enterprise geodatabases, waiting too long between geodatabase upgrades may mean you have to upgrade the underlying database more than once before you can upgrade the geodatabase.

The geodatabase version for an enterprise geodatabase is stored in a system table. It indicates what client version you used to create or upgrade the geodatabase. For example, if you create an enterprise geodatabase from ArcMap 10.6.1, the geodatabase version is 10.6.1. If you subsequently upgrade the same geodatabase using ArcGIS Pro 2.6, the geodatabase version is Be aware that this geodatabase version is primarily used by Esri Support to troubleshoot issues; it does not entirely reflect the functionality available to you, as a lot of geodatabase functionality is implemented in the clients that access the geodatabase and not in the geodatabase itself.

When Do You Need To Upgrade A Geodatabase?

It’s best to keep your geodatabase and client versions as close as possible. Sometimes, you have to upgrade the geodatabase. You must upgrade your geodatabase if either of the following is true:

The client release you are using cannot connect to the geodatabase release you want to use. For enterprise geodatabases, the client release you’re using may not be able to connect to the database management system version you’re using, and you need to upgrade both the database and the geodatabase to connect from a newer client.

You want to take advantage of functionality that is available only if you use a newer release of the geodatabase. Check each version of What’s new in ArcGIS Pro for information on new functionality and dataset types in the geodatabase. Be aware that when you create new dataset types or upgrade a dataset, such as a parcel fabric or upgrade the ObjectID field to a 64-bit integer, older clients will no longer be able to access the dataset.

Read more here: Enterprise Geodatabase compatibility

Editor’s Note:  Known Unknowns And Unknown Unknowns…

The information above falls in the category of known knowns but you can bet that between now and 2026 there will be some other compatibility issues and functionality limitations with ArcMap.  In general we won’t see compatibility issues until the 10.9.1 release of ArcGIS Enterprise, which is right around the corner.  Things are getting real.

As someone who has led the transition to ArcGIS Pro for a large team I have a few bits of advice:

  1. Make sure your hardware (virtual or physical) can run ArcGIS Pro properly.  This means a GPU.  We did not do this when we started our transition and it was a mistake.  ArcGIS Pro is much different than ArcMap (duh), and it takes a long time to learn, which can be frustrating.  Spinning wheels and a clunky user experience you get with hardware without a GPU only adds to that frustration.  ROK can help you with this.
  2. Start with geoprocessing tasks.  The toolbox in ArcGIS Pro is very similar to ArcMap. The main difference is that the tools in ArcGIS Pro run faster.  It is easy to hop over to ArcGIS Pro to run some analysis and it is a good way to learn your way around the program.
  3. Next, learn how ArcGIS Pro interacts with ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online.  Sharing content to these platforms is incredibly easy and powerful.  Read more here.
  4. Finally, get to know the Layout interface.  This may be the most frustrating part of the transition, and it helps if you already know your way around the other Ribbons.
  5. Speaking of Ribbons, as much as you don’t want to, you have to get used to them.  A lot of settings live up there.  Embrace the Ribbon.

There has never been a better time to make the transition, Pro keeps getting better, ArcMap keeps marching towards the sunset, and you can always rely on your friends at ROK to help you.


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