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Information on ArcGIS Products

ArcGIS is the generic term for various geographic information system software products from Esri. The EsriGIS product portfolio is very extensive and has been expanded, restructured and renamed several times in recent years.

What is what in the ArcGIS product portfolio?

ArcGIS Desktop

This is the term for Esri's desktop application suite. The two primary desktop applications for GIS professionals are ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro and are both part of ArcGIS Desktop.


ArcMap is the original ("old") desktop GIS of the application suite. ArcMap and its companion applications, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene, work together to provide the full range of GIS functions.
In ArcMap, you can view and explore the GIS datasets of a study area, assign symbols, and create the map layout for printing and publishing. You can also create and edit new datasets in ArcMap.


The ArcCatalog application provides a catalog window that is used to organize and manage different types of geographic information for ArcGIS Desktop.
Source and more information


ArcGlobe is part of ArcGIS 3D Analyst. The application is generally designed to work with very large datasets and allows seamless visualization of raster and feature data. It is based on a global view in which all data is projected into a global cube projection and displayed with different levels of detail (LODs) and then organized as tiles.
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ArcScene is a 3D viewer that allows you to create perspective scenes in which you can navigate and work with your 3D feature and raster data. ArcScene is based on OpenGL, so it supports complex 3D line symbology and texture mapping, as well as surface creation and TIN display.
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ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is the new desktop GIS from Esri and an integral part of the desktop application suite. It combines the functionality of ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcScene, and ArcGlobe and extends the desktop functionality with online functions (cloud services).  Esri itself describes ArcGIS Pro as 'next-generation desktop GIS'. ArcGIS Pro is a standalone installation, and other ArcGIS desktop applications can run in parallel on one computer.

Information on getting started (from the manufacturer Esri):

What is the difference between ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro?

ArcGIS Pro offers numerous features that go beyond ArcMap, including better 3D visualization, tighter integration with Web GIS, advanced animation tools, and the ability to publish vector tiles.

ArcGIS Pro is primarily licensed with named user licenses, meaning you log in with a username and password associated with your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise account. However, there are additional licensing options for Pro with concurrent or single use licenses via a traditional license manager.

Is ArcMap being discontinued?

ArcMap will not disappear in the foreseeable future. ESRI will continue to support ArcMap, fix bugs and maintain the software. However, ArcGIS Pro will gradually replace ArcMap.

There are still some ArcMap functions that are not yet included in ArcGIS Pro. The two programs can be used in parallel.

ArcGIS Administrator

The 'ArcGIS Administrator' utility is installed with the ArcGIS Desktop software package. The administrator enables the administration of licenses.

The following occurs with the help of the administrator:

  • The product type (single use / concurrent use) is defined.
  • A license manager is defined in concurrent use mode.
  • Single-use licenses can be authorized.
  • License availability can be displayed.
  • Concurrent-use licenses can be borrowed and returned.
  • Licenses can be repaired.

Source and more information

ArcGIS Enterprise

ArcGIS Enterprise is a refinement (and renaming) of the 'ArcGIS Server' product series. Until version 10.41, the product was still called 'ArcGIS for Server'. Since version 10.5 it has been called 'ArcGIS Enterprise'. It includes a powerful server for GIS web services and a dedicated web GIS infrastructure for organizing and sharing your work to make maps, geographic information, and analyses available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

The ArcGIS Enterprise product contains the following two software components, among others:

  • ArcGIS Server
  • Portal for ArcGIS

Source and more information

ArcGIS Enterprise provides similar functionality to ArcGIS Online, but runs on a different infrastructure. This infrastructure can either be owned and managed directly by the university or optionally managed via the infrastructure of other cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. ArcGIS Enterprise is used to create, use, and share maps and apps.

Source and more information

ArcGIS Portal (Portal for ArcGS)

Portal for ArcGIS is a component of ArcGIS Enterprise. It enables the sharing of maps, scenes, apps, and other geographical information with other users in the organization (university). The shared content is made available via a website. The portal thus enables collaboration between GIS professionals as a 'local' alternative to Esri's ArcGIS Online (cloud) services.
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ArcGIS Server

ArcGIS Server originally referred to the software for providing various geoservices; from version 9.2, ArcSDE is also included. As in the desktop area, there are three different product scalings, which differ in the functions offered: Basic (geodatabase, replication), Standard (additional 2D, 3D maps), Advanced (additional geoprocessing).
ArcGIS Server is a software with which your geographic information can be made available to other people in the organization and optionally to anyone with an internet connection. This is done via web services that allow a powerful server computer to receive and process information requests sent from other devices. ArcGIS Server opens your GIS to tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktop workstations, and other devices that can connect to web services.
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ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online is Esri's platform for sharing work products (maps, data, custom tools, and tasks).

With ArcGIS Online, all components run in a cloud infrastructure managed by Esri in a SaaS (Software as a Service) model. In other words, the computing and data storage resources, the website, and all other aspects of the system are run by Esri in a cloud environment. You can also use ArcGIS Online directly to create, use, and share maps and apps.

ArcGIS License Manager

The FlexNet Publisher license management software (FlexLM) must be installed in order to manage the ArcGIS software products in concurrent use. Details on the FLEXnet Publisher version used in each version of ArcGIS License Manager can be found in the Esri Knowledge Base. In an organization environment, ArcGIS License Manager can also host and distribute single-use licenses for organizations or named user licenses of ArcGIS Pro via a local portal for ArcGIS instance.

Source and more information

Product scaling / license level

The terms 'product scaling', 'license level', or 'features' refer to a level model. The 'higher' the level, the more extensive the functionalities included. In earlier ArcGIS versions (<10.1), Esri still used the following level designations:

  1. ArcView
  2. ArcEditor
  3. ArcInfo

These were renamed as of version 10.1 and became the following:

  1. Basic
  2. Standard
  3. Advanced

All three levels provide the tools and environment for map creation and interactive visualization (= Basic).

Moreover, levels 2 and 3 offer multi-user editing and advanced data management functions (= Standard).

The third and highest level contains functions for advanced analyses, high-end cartography and extensive database management. (= Advanced).

A detailed functionality matrix showing which features are available in which version can be found here.