All posts by Drew Keener

ArcGIS Desktop Retiring in 2024

ArcGIS logo

In 2024, the GIS software ArcGIS Desktop (also known as ArcMap) will no longer be available through Duke’s education license. Esri has been encouraging users to upgrade to their more modern GIS software, ArcGIS Pro, or cloud-based platforms such as ArcGIS Online. CDVS’s GIS workshop series has not included an ArcMap session for the past several years, and we have been encouraging anyone interested in learning GIS software to start with ArcGIS Pro. You can read more details about the process in Esri’s blog post, ArcMap Retirement in Education Programs.

While the transition away from ArcMap has been moving forward, we occasionally hear from students and faculty who are still using this software. If you have yet to make the switch from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online, please consider doing so this semester.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you navigate the shift. Esri provides dozens of free, self-paced online tutorials about ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online. You may also want to explore their tutorial series Modern GIS. For those looking for a more personal and interactive learning experience, we are offering several GIS workshops in Fall 2023. Finally, the in-depth Migrate to ArcGIS Pro (log-in required) documentation includes a training video and guide that address topics like migrating Python scripts and importing styles from ArcMap.

These guides should explain everything you might want to know (and much more) about the change. If you still have questions or want to learn more about other software options, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our GIS specialists by sending an email to

Celebrating GIS Day 2020

About GIS Day

GIS Day is an international celebration of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. The event provides an opportunity for users of geospatial data and tools to build knowledge, share their work, and explore the benefits of GIS in their communities. Since its establishment in 1999, GIS Day events have been organized by nonprofit organizations, universities, schools, public libraries, and government agencies at all levels.

Held annually on the third Wednesday of November, this year GIS Day is officially today. Happy GIS Day! CDVS has participated in Duke GIS Day activities on campus in past years, but with COVID-19, we had to find other ways to celebrate.

A (Virtual) Map ShowcaseThe English Civil Wars - Story Map

To mark GIS Day this year, CDVS is launching an ArcGIS StoryMaps showcase! We invite any students, faculty, and staff to submit a story map to highlight their mapping and GIS work. Send us an email at if you would like to add yours to the collection. We are keen to showcase the variety of GIS projects happening across Duke, and we will add contributions to the collection as we receive them. Our first entry is a story map created by Kerry Rork as part of a project for undergraduate students that used digital mapping to study the English Civil Wars.

Why Story Maps?

If you aren’t familiar with ArcGIS StoryMaps, this easy-to-use web application integrates maps with narrative text, images, and video. The platform’s compelling, interactive format can be an effective communication tool for any project with a geographic component. We have seen a surge of interest in story maps at Duke, with groups using them to present research, give tours, provide instruction. Check out the learning resources to get started, or contact us at to schedule a consultation with one of our GIS specialists.

Telling Stories with Maps: Esri Story Maps at Duke

Developing interactive maps that incorporate text, images, video, and audio can be time-consuming and require specialized technical skills. Fortunately, at Duke we have access to Esri Story Maps, a web-based tool that helps you quickly design engaging narratives around your maps, no coding required.

We have seen a variety of creative uses of Story Maps at Duke, including:

  • Presentations to communicate research
  • Student assignments, as an alternative to a midterm or paper
  • Tours and guides of campus
  • Tutorials to explain a topic with a spatial component
  • Portfolios to showcase projects that include maps

Krakow Story MapChristine Liu, a graduate student in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, created this Story Map to illustrate a journey through Kraków under Nazi occupation.

If you are interested in building a Story Map, we recommend first spending some time exploring Esri’s curated gallery of stories to find inspiration and understand the platform’s capabilities. You can also review their collection of resources, which includes training videos, FAQs, and useful advice.

When you are ready to get started,  you can contact one of our GIS specialists (by emailing to schedule an appointment. We are always happy to answer questions and provide recommendations specific to your project. We also offer workshops to guide you through the process of building a basic online map, making it visually effective, and combining it with other materials to publish a Story Map.

If you already have a Story Map you want to show off, please share it with us! We are assembling a gallery of stories made at Duke and would love to feature your project.