Total Eclipse of the Sun!

This is the obligatory eclipse post. First off, the eclipse was AMAZING! In my backyard, during the totality, the birds came to the feeders like their evening frenzy, LIGHTNING BUGS CAME OUT!, the day bugs disappeared, the chimney swifts and bats came out and all the night noises were full on. It was amazing. Just for good measure… my dogs acted totally normal. They were too hot from running around and slept through it all.

Out at our Tennessee State Parks in the path of totality (and even many of the parks outside of totality), we were slammed with visitors from all across the U.S. and many from out of the country! My favorite co-worker in marketing knows how much I love data and sent me the pre-registration numbers before the day was even through. I used it as an excuse to play around some more with ArcPro.

First example is the heatmap… I love their on-the-fly heat map visualization. It scales as you scale in and out – which can be a blessing or a curse. At smaller scales, I actually liked how it visualized the data better, but I couldn’t figure out a way to go “stay with this one when I zoom out to 1:13,000,000!” I also found a bug in the export of the heat map visual. When I exported as tif, jpg, or pdf I got these weird “tears” or “flares” in the heatmap. So my work around was to export as an etf (whatever that is) and open in it paint (no joke) and then save as a jpg. It worked!

With a heatmap of geocoded points so it makes sense, but does loose some “umph” from the raw data…

I didn’t have a problem with just the straight-up visualization of the data. Also, I made cute little icons of solar eclipses just for the hell of it. The data is really dense and difficult to tease out at this scale, BUT, the overall effect is there: We had a lot of people pre-register for the eclipse at our parks! This doesn’t even reflect all the additional people who came to our parks day-of! Amazing.

Cute little eclipse icons… for funsies.


Not being able to run fast in dreams. While prepping to write this, I was highly amused by reading other peoples’ experiences with the same kind of dream. Apparently it’s fairly ubiquitous! SOLIDARITY, SLOW DREAM-RUNNERS!

There’s a lot of pseudo-science explanations saying something to the effect of “maybe you’re feeling powerless in life” or “your legs represent your fundamental drive to move forward in life.” ¬†or “you’re clearly experiencing hard times in your life.” CLEARLY!

Anyway. I’ve had those dreams where I’m running from/to something and I just run in slow motion, but I’m like “WHY THE HELL CAN’T I RUN FASTER?!”

That sensation… that’s how I feel with ArcGIS Pro.

My workflows in ArcGIS for Desktop are like muscle memory now. I know where everything is at, I’ve got all my menus situated where I want, etc etc. I’ve been using it for years! So switching over to ArcGIS Pro has made me feel pained and slow. Old. Confused. Desperate. Anxious. But that’s how it goes! I recognize that it will take some time to learn – no big deal, right?

So yea- I’m willing to concede it will take time to get used to. Overall, ArcGIS Pro looks AWESOME! One major thing I’m immediately a fan of is how it processes visuals. Graphically, it’s just prettier, making me wrestle slightly less with Arc’s long-standing blind-eye to aesthetics. This is the LOVE part of all this, and I’m sure I’ll find more to love about it as I keep going down the rabbit hole.

But – negatives always seem to outweigh the positives.

Just when something is going great – it changes! At ESRI UC I learned about this glorious thing called ATTRIBUTE ASSISTANT. Well – I had learned about it prior to that, but I specifically went to a session on it while in San Diego. Attribute Assistant is BALLER.

Really though – have you ever been building a dataset and you want to have a field that tells you, say, what tax parcel it belongs to? Or what physiographic province? “Join” creates a new dataset but you don’t WANT a new dataset, and “Relate” can be kind of tedious to use. “Append” just adds data, it doesn’t fill in missing data in a field you already have (and field mapping doesn’t cut it, all the time.) Sure, you can build a relationship class but then you still have to go through line-by-line and build some key for those things to relate on. Simply impractical, especially for those of us inheriting datasets and not just building them from scratch.

Enter Attribute Assistant. It works by building expressions in a table that specify some “rules.” (I.E. rule 1.) if this feature in layer A intersects a feature in another layer B, add field from layer B into field of layer A.) It can do a hell of a lot more than that, but that’s how I’m currently using it. It’s amazing! I draw a trail and automatically park name gets filled in! Small things, but HUGE TIME SAVER.

So, imagine my disappointment when at the end of the session the speaker is like “Oh yea, and this won’t be available in ArcPro.” WHAT?! WHAT!!! Soul crushing. Dream crushing! But wait- it’s not available because they’ll build it into to geoprocessing tools in ArcPro? Ok… cool. ::holds breath:: ::dies::

Really wanting to start diving into ArcPro, I research how to execute my favorite value method in Attribute Assistant: INTERSECTING_FEATURE. I read this crap on geonet about how AA isn’t available in Arc1.x, but it will be in 2.0 (now out.) So I update to ArcPro 2.0 and eagerly search for Intersecting Feature. NO DICE. I search the web some more for any morsel of information pertaining to where I might find these built in Attribute Rules (as they are supposedly called.) NO DICE. I check my licensing level. NO DICE.

So – HATE. That’s big on the hate list. Basically, a tool I use literally every day is no longer available, making a conversion from ArcGIS Desktop to Pro impractical. Strike 1.

Also on hate list: Calculate geometry. GONE. It’s actually still there – somewhere deep in a toolbox in geoprocessing tools, but it’s no longer a simple right click within your attribute table. I cry bull! We’re constantly asked to give sums on values in various units. I really don’t want to have to go through a geoprocessing tool to do this. ArcPro should be less tedious, not more tedious! Strike 2.

Last (or currently last) on my list of gripes is the organization of the table of contents view and catalog. ArcPro wants you to add and connect to just the folders pertinent to the “project” – but that works on a lot of assumptions and it’s a huge pain in the ass. My workaround has been to build a basic “project” that’s my catch all for day to day workflows that don’t warrant their own special project. But when I go to make a project that does warrant its own special name, I just want all my folders to be there, mkay? Thanks. Strike 3.

And yet, like a bad boyfriend, I’m still intrigued. I still believe there’s potential! It’s still alluring, and definitely still sexy. Unlike the bad boyfriend, change actually is inevitable and if I stick it out long enough, soon I’ll learn to love it. I’m definitely looking forward to what’s coming down the pipeline, and as we grow GIS in our program I know ArcPro will have a lot to offer that Arc for Desktop doesn’t.