What are some best practices for ArcGIS 9.3 and 10.0 in the same shop?

We have a couple of dozen users on 9.3. The bulk of our data is in file geodatabases and geotiffs, with a respectable splash of shapefiles and occasional jaunts to ArcSDE (9.3.1) hosted by another department. We will be introducing 10.0 to the power users first and for an unknown period of time, likely 6 months, the two will be operative at the same time. All of the data as well as map compositions, layer files, symbol styles, etc. will be used by both groups.

How do you structure things so these two sets can peacefully co-exist? What are the things to watch for?


5 Answers 5


gotcha: Arcmap 10 "save a copy" will create a 9.3 .mxd. If however you open a 9.3 mxd in 10 and then save it using the toolbar button or [ctrl]-[s] it upgrades it to 10 format, rendering it inaccessible to 9.3 clients.

Futhermore, save-a-copy will not let you overwrite the open map, therefore forcing a new document to be created. One must clean things up afterwards, after closing Arcmap, by manually deleting the old copy and renaming the new one. Needless to say most people will not be motivated to do this and there will be an escalation in the number of duplicate maps. yech.

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    filed in esri's Idea Bin as an enhancement request. Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 22:33

Through the grapevine, I've heard that installing the licenses for 9.3 and 10 on the same license server is a mess, and that its best to use two different license servers. I dont have first hand details, its just a heads up.

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    We upraded our license server to v10 last week and haven't heard a peep from anyone. It took about 10 minutes, not counting reading docs etc. before hand (hours). The process is very confusing. Haven't tried to add any new licenses though. Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 20:20
  • in our environment 9.3 Desktop Administrator always reports there are zero available license, though Arcmap etc. seem to have no problem checking licenses out when this is so. Additionally I don't see a method on the server for seeing who has what license checked out (and how to give them the boot). Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 22:10

You could enforce that users with v10 always save their MXDs in 9.3 versions and always use the 9.3 version databases.

I'm not sure if there are compatibility issues with GDBs (I'm sure that the shapefiles will work).

EDIT: one easy thing to do is to create a new Save Button for ArcGIS v10 users, always saving to 9.3 versions AND you can sign the shortcut to that button/command. It's probably a few .NET lines.

  • With maps I'm doubtful that it would be as straightforward as a custom 'save as 9.3' button, vis-a-vis not being able to use the same filename. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong of course! GDBs are much easier. Arc10 automatically doesn't use the new capabilities when saving or creating feature classes in older GDBs (which is/was also true with 9.3 and earlier). Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 21:51

I had a problem with the Address Locator Styles in version 10, I had to resort to the 9.3.1 ones: IPoint -> Nearest Address


Here are a few things which may assist.

If you can define project roles for people on the differnt versions (eg. 10 are editing, 9.3 cartography, or something similar) then you can have 2 versions of the MXD which will solve a lot of the simple issues.

Use 9.3 File Geodatabase as then, both the 10 clients and the 9.3 clients will be able to access.

With respect to License Manager, ArcGIS 9 can access ArcGIS 10 License Manager, but if you do not have 9.3.1 SP2 then the availability tab in Desktop Administrator will be blank (licenses are available but not visible). In saying this there are some License Changes like MPS Atlas no longer has a separate license at 10 so 9.3.1 can't authernticate it due to the change, so check this first.

Keep your SDE in the older version, as there is no way for the 9.3 clients to connect to a SDE 10. And use Direct Connections for the 10 clients as this will perform much better to the older GDB

Scripting is entirely different, check your processes as the ArcObjects reference has been changed as well as the python reference. Also the use of Python in tools such as the Select By Attributes changes.

This is just a list of ideas, sorry for not being cohesive

Have Fun, CDB

  • thanks, esp. for the note about SP2 and available licenses, it answers a question I never solved :) Commented Nov 5, 2010 at 21:24

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