|ArcGIS Pro||Desktop||$700 - $3800/year|
|Best for||Mobile capable|
|Advanced map making, spatial analysis, and 3D visualizations||Yes, with purchase of ArcGIS Online|
ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro has long been the desktop GIS powerhouse. ArcGIS was released as a commercial product in the mid 1980’s; however, ESRI originated two decades earlier as a geospatial research institute.
With separate products for online and desktop, an enterprise solution, and ArcGIS for Developers, the ArcGIS product suite is quite expansive.
Each ESRI product is sold separately from the base product. Most users start with the base product and then add functionality as needed.
For users who require an advanced solution with robust geospatial functionality, ArcGIS Pro is one of the most comprehensive mapping and data analysis platforms on the market.
There are two basic categories of GIS software: commercial and open-source.
Commercial GIS software involves a paid license of some kind, either through subscription or a one-time perpetual license. Open-source GIS software is free for anyone to use.
Within these broad categories, there are many individual software options: each with significant variation in terms of functionality, price point, and ease-of-use.
When choosing a GIS software, first decide between commerical and open-source.
Learn the basics of GIS with part one: What is GIS?