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In QGIS, I load all the layers I need for a project and then create print composers/print layouts which can have different layer visibility settings to each other.

Is it possible to achieve a similar effect using a single project file in ArcGIS Pro? If I turn a layer off in the layout, it is turned off in the map and any other layouts using that map. To me, this defeats the purpose of creating different layouts.

One workaround I had investigated was to create a series of basemaps with my layers and add these to maps and have a map per layout. However, when you add a basemap to a normal map it loses its connection to the basemap, so changes to data sources in the basemap are no longer reflected in the maps (and therefore layouts). Which means having to remove and then add back in the basemap to every other map. Worse still, there is no way of telling whether a basemap in a basemap matches the basemap in the project's Map folder. This is madness! If I add a mapframe to a Layout in ARcGIS Pro, the map in the frame does not maintain a link to the original (so if I change a layer source in the map, it does not update in the layout).

In summary, I would like to know if ArcGIS Pro can achieve the following solution (which is fully achievable in QQIS):

  1. 1 project file containing all layers needed
  2. Multiple layouts with different layer visibilities (independence of layout view states)
  3. Changing a layer's data source etc ripples through to all layouts (data consistency between layouts)

Previously, our organisation has used the following approaches in ArcMap:

  1. Create separate mxd files for each layout
  2. Create one mxd for the project, turn layers on an off to achieve the desired view state, and then export to PDF. Then bringing the resulting PDF into Adobe InDesign to add a title box for each map.

Both of these solutions are far inferior to QGIS.

Unfortunately, my organisation is determined to stick with ESRI (it cost lots of money, therefore, it must be a better solution type logic). So I do need a sane solution using ArcGIS Pro. Please tell me I'm missing something obvious!

  • Well, QGIS is free, so if you have admin control on your computer you could always install QGIS and use it without telling anyone. What they don't know won't hurt them. And when they eventually ask how you're doing your work twice as fast as everyone else, that's your chance to make the case for QGIS. – csk Oct 9 '18 at 19:50
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The obvious thing that I think you may be missing is that in ArcGIS Pro if you have a layer in a Map, and then you use that Map in multiple Map Frames, which can be on the same or multiple layouts, all within the same ArcGIS Pro project, then when you turn off the layer in that Map or change its data source all Map Frames using it on all layouts in the project are instantly updated.

The help about how to Add and modify map frames may make a good starting point to understand the interaction between layers, maps, map frames and layouts in ArcGIS Pro.

If you need to "turn a layer off in one layout and it will not affect the visibility in any other layout" then you could use a map frame that references a cloned map with a clone of that layer in it.

  • I've read help link before. However, what you describe does not achieve no. 2 on my list - independence of view states. In QGIS, I can turn a layer off in one layout and it will not affect the visibility in any other layout. Is there a way of having layouts with each with different layers visible in ArcGIS Pro? – George of all trades Oct 8 '18 at 9:08

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