Where are my ArcGIS Pro 2.0 template files?

The default location is here:

C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Pro\Resources\ProjectTemplates\

It’s tricky to package the project as a template and store it in the right folder, so that it appears with the other templates at startup.  The Save As step doesn’t default to the ProjectTemplate folder.  When I specified that folder, Pro failed to write to it, probably because it required Admin privs.  So I saved the .aptx file to my usual projects folder then simply copied it to the ProjectTemplates folder (selecting Admin privs interactively).

Pro templates folder

That worked:

template list






Integrating CAD+GIS for Facilities Management

I’ve focused on GIS for IoT and big data processing the past few years.  Just got the call to help out now with GIS for facilities management.   I’m building this CAD + GIS resource list for my own reference and to share with CAD and GIS operators I’ll be working with.

CAD-GIS Overview

A quick tour of working with CAD data
[ArcGIS Help]

CAD Integration Community

Georeferencing CAD

Overlaying CAD Data into ArcGIS – [ArcGIS Help]

Lining up CAD Data in ArcGIS
[ UC 2017 presentation by Margaret Maher, author of the book.]

  • CAD and ArcGIS approaches
  • Reasons why data might not align, and visual examples
  • Details on how to modify the PRJ
    • The Scale Factor parameter
    • How it affects false Easting and Northing
  • What to request from the CAD operator (AutoCAD & Microstation)
  • List of deep-dive resources on projection

Using GIS inside CAD

Exporting features to CAD drawings
Design projects in CAD can begin with base data generated from a GIS. Export feature classes and shapefiles to AutoCAD and MicroStation formats.

A quick tour of ArcGIS for AutoCAD

CAD-GIS Data Integration

Strategies for migrating CAD to a Geodatabase – [ArcGIS Help]

Standardizing CAD for Importing into Geodatabases – Lessons Learned
[Esri UC 2017 presentation by city of Aurora, CO]

  • The city’s CAD data submittal standards
  • CAD terminology, AutoCAD and Civil 3D
  • CAD Batch Standards Checker
  • FME Workbench
  • Understanding the technology strengths and weaknesses
  • Engaging stakeholders



The GIS Jester told a Story to make the King of GIS laugh

In July I attended the Esri User Conference in San Diego.  I had not been to the UC since 2011.

Back in 2011, I was invited to the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) awards ceremony at the UC. The list of award winners and the breadth and depth of their work with GIS was amazing. It was a privilege to mingle with the achievers and to hear the late Roger Tomlinson, The “Father of GIS”, speak to hundreds of his achiever children.  I was sort of a GIS under-achiever but glad to be there.

Roger acknowledged the Father of GIS appellation then called Jack Dangermond the “King of GIS”.

It was memorable.  I got to shake The GIS Father’s hand and stand with The GIS King for a photo op.  Not for any SAG achievement.  They gave me the THIRD PLACE award for storytelling.  This was back before #storymaps were a thing.   So it was easy to win.

For three short seconds, I gripped the GIS King’s hand while the photographer adjusted our pose.  In that moment, I told the King that 20 years before, I had cast out bad spirits and given up religion and converted to Esri and GIS.  A true believer.  And now he is my inspiration to do good in the world. The King laughed, the camera clicked, and the staff waved me off to make room for the next photo op.

2011-07 Jack Dangermond and Don cropped 700x

Jack Dangermond presents the THIRD PLACE award for Story Telling with Web Maps

What’s eating up my ArcGIS Online credits?

My presence on ArcGIS Online is small:  Choptank River Heritage.

It runs on the Esri Home License – ArcGIS Pro and an Online site with 100 credits – for $100 per year.  I use it to improve my ArcGIS skills while publishing historic maps to support my Choptank River Heritage volunteer blog about Caroline County, Maryland, history.

I was surprised to find that 7 percent of my annual credits were used up in the past 14 days, mostly for storage:

Storage of what?  You have to drill down deep to find that.  The help doc is here.  The gist is:

Click View Status > Credits > Storage > [Storage Usage Chart] Feature Storage > [Feature Storage Usage Report] Database Storage.  Then download the CSV.
Now I see it.  I can certainly get rid of this stuff:

And pay out another $100 to keep my historic maps and GIS skills development going.

GDAL to convert GeoPDF to GeoTIFF – the Windows version

I needed to convert GeoPDF files to GeoTIFF.  I’m not command-line savvy.  So I was hesitant to try this.  When the gdal_translate command failed no matter what I tried, I nearly gave up.  (I can just screen-shot the PDFs.  Right!)  

But I kept digging.  I found that not all GDAL installs support PDF.  I had to get a specific set of GDAL binaries for Windows.  Here’s how and why:

I’m doing volunteer/non-profit work to publish map services that show georeferenced map layers for historic maps of  Caroline County, Maryland.  I’m using MapTiler, Tileserver, QGIS, and ArcGIS Online for low-cost production and publishing.  Recent products are:

– 1875 and 1897 county and towns via AGOL and
1897 county in OpenLayers.

Next task is to publish similar services and maps from the USGS Topo GeoPDFs.  I need to convert the GeoPDFs to GeoTIFF in order to publish the tiles as a service.  (Esri has done this already.  But only for paying customers.)

I found a tutorial for using GDAL’s gdaltranslate utility.  After installing GDAL and cursing my way through the godawful Windows command line window, I kept getting GDAL errors.  GDAL wasn’t recognizing the PDF format.

Why not?  I was following the tutorial steps exactly.  I checked forums and found that GDAL has PDF support in some releases but not in others — it was working for Ubuntu installs, but not for all Windows installs.   The tutorial used the Ubuntu installer.  I had used the OSGeo4W installer for GDAL.  That one does not include PDF support.  Gotta love opensource.

I found a pointer to GDAL binaries I needed at gisinternals.com.  I downloaded the zipfile with the files that are right for my Windows system.  Simply unzipped the file in a folder.  Then ran the SDKShell.bat file.  No need to install anything.  That worked for me.  Gotta love opensource.

OK. I’m not a GeoHipster. I’m a GIS Worker. This is what I do.

But worry not, GIS worker: Spatial might no longer be special, but projections, datums, and legacy file formats will continue to be very, very special.
      – Brian Timoney, MapBrief

Okay… GIS is not sexy like your iPhone locator app.  But it will always be special.  In the same way that your plumbing and electrical and HVAC systems are special.  Next time they stop working, ask yourself just how special they are.  Next time your iPhone map is missing Main Street, ask yourself how special GIS is.

Consumer and business geo apps and services keep evolving – cutting edge today and obsolete tomorrow.  BigData today – legacy file format tomorrow.  But projections, datums, and georeferencing will always be there to provide ground truth. 

Esri and the ArcGIS platform have been around for 30 years, defining and documenting GIS work.  So when we needed to understand what GIS workers are doing across a variety of industries, we looked at the list of tools in ArcGIS Toolbox as a compendium of GIS workflow and process skills.  

We needed the ArcToolbox list itself as a data set — not a PDF poster or searchable web site.  I asked Esri for an ArcToolbox list as Excel table or other word processing format, but they could not provide.  So my friend at Esri, Nick Toscano, and I compiled the table ourselves.   That’s almost 900 “GIS tools” in an Excel data table.  Easy to sort, filter, annotate, categorize in ways that meet our needs.  

Here it is.

Some of the tools are pretty arcane.  But most are plain markers for the nuts-and-bolts work of GIS professionals in towns, cities, and counties who have to deal with projections, datums, and legacy file formats every day.  Not the next wave or next-big-thing.  Just the actual data and task at hand.

How will we use this?

  • Survey and assess the experience of our GIS workers.
  • Plan GIS skills training and investment.
  • Design new workflows to make common tasks more efficient.
  • As a quicker reference for building geoprocessing services. 

My Very Short History of LiDAR, GIS, and CAD

In a letter to my son, the young architect.  With a reading assignment from Dad.

Are you architects seeing more about the integration of these three technologies?

LiDAR started more than a decade ago in remote sensing from satellites, first tested from the shuttles for terrain and elevation modeling.  When I was in the Univ. of Maryland GIS program, they were working on calibrating LiDAR for remote sensing of vegetation – different levels of tree canopy to assess forest health.
When I was working GIS in for the city of Philadelphia, the GIS staff started seeing LiDAR in the urban environment.  GIS and LiDAR vendors were partnering with the city to use LiDAR for 3D modeling of the downtown area.  Then they started using portable LiDAR sensors – the size of a wheelbarrow – to survey the subway spaces in Center City.  And the interiors of some buildings.  The focus was public safety and emergency response.
Now we see LiDAR moving into the consumer market – interior design and real estate are the focus of the two articles below.  Made possible because LiDAR sensors are smaller and cheaper.  (Where have we heard that before… )

The architect’s reply just in:

We see this happening but don’t use it directly.  There is talk of it being used in surveying but not for design. 
We have our own information-imbedded software (Building Information Modeling – BIM) which we use to design with and to communicate material quantities and interfaces.  The first article mentioned intergratig LiDAR and BIM. 
We are seeing companies which market the 3D scanning service for interiors and you can imagine that we could use that for modeling existing conditions, but the issue is that most of the time we need those existing models to contain information – BIM – and to be manually input. 
The 3d rendering company we work with has a portable version of this and they use it to scan interiors because all they need to do their work is geometries and surfaces. 
I can definitely see an integration of this technology with our BIM but we need and additional layer of information. The BIM software that we use is called Revit.