Here come ArcGIS 10.4 and ArcGIS Pro 1.2

ArcGIS 10.4 will be released next week (18th Feb) and the help pages are live already. Both ArcGIS Server and ArcMap continue to evolve to reflect the needs of the user communities. If your organisation is running Portal alongside ArcGIS Server there are a raft of changes; including new analysis capabilities and lots of new options in the Web App Builder (the full list is here). Following on from the 10.4 release will be the next update to ArcGIS Pro. Version 1.2 has some exciting new features, strengthening its role as the Web GIS content authoring tool.

ArcMap

In ArcMap 10.4 there are changes in mapping, editing, geoprocessing, scripting and Geodata. The full details are listed here but I've picked out a couple interesting changes. I regularly publish small sets of data from ArcMap to My Hosted Service (ArcGIS Online in my case) so my favourite change is that the default for the service type will be Feature Access, rather than Tiled Mapping. 

The new geoprocessing tools reflect the growth of 3D GIS with four new tools added to 3D analyst. Two of these are for working with Lidar data (Classify LAS Ground and Extract LAS), there is a tool for removing aberrations in 3D polygons (Regularize Building Footprint) and one for calculating the minimum bounding volume (Minimum Bounding Volume). These will be particularly useful in the AEC sector as will the new editing tool for applying a local shift based on a set of control points (Transform Features).

At the end of last year Esri announced that support for SciPy would be added to ArcGIS and this arrives in 10.4. The SciPy stack is a set of libraries for for mathematics, science, and engineering. Users will now be able to incorporate common routines in their geoprocessing models without having to write them from scratch.

ArcGIS Server

The changes in ArcGIS Server provide more options for administering an enterprise GIS (the full list is here). If you have a stable set of services, a new mechanism has been added to control changes to your ArcGIS Server site by setting it to read-only mode. Security policies that require passwords to be reset regularly can now be supported with ArcGIS Server allowing a new database connection file (containing the new password) to be imported. Also, the default configuration at install has changed; now both HTTP and HTTPS will be enabled and the cluster mode will be single cluster mode.

ArcGIS Pro

Two of the big changes relate to creating and publishing content for WebGIS. Vector Map Tiles were added to ArcGIS Online in November (this post gives an overview) and Pro 1.2 will allow you to create and publish your own Vector Map services. The other new publishing capability is support for publishing 3D scene layers.

If you have used ArcGIS Online you will be familiar with the smart mapping tool and elements of this are being introduced to Pro in this release. You will now have access to the histogram control for managing classification of symbols using a colour ramp. The easy to create heat maps that we've seen in ArcGIS Online are also coming to Pro. If you've ever created a multi-scale map you probably used layer copies to provide different symbology at different scale ranges. From 1.2, ArcGIS Pro will let you define scale based symbology within a single layer. As well as the option to have different symbols at different scales, there will also be the option to change the point size or line thickness as scale changes. 

Another useful feature is the ability to consume WMS and WMTS layers. The functionality available will depend on the service type but includes re-ordering layers, changing the appearance and use the identify function.

Finally, look out for the new geoprocessing tools - ones ported from ArcMap and some brand new tools. The user experience has been improved for Model builder and the Data Interoperability extension makes its appearance in Pro. 

Update (29/02/2016)

ArcGIS Pro licensing options will be extended when the new version, 1.2, is released soon. This will allow an organisation to set up concurrent licenses for Pro users, using a license manager, or to lock a license for use on only one machine. There is more information in this blog post and a link to the help page that will detail the process once ArcGIS Pro 1.2 is live.