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SLYR ESRI to QGIS compatibility suite – November 2019 update

It’s a been a month full of huge improvements since the last update, and we have some exciting news to share about our SLYR ESRI to QGIS compatibility suite. With the recently published plugin version 3.7, MXD conversion has moved from a “beta” state to being fully supported and available out-of-the-box for all users!

Based on our massive library of reference files (almost 10,000 files covering a huge range of ArcGIS versions and features!), the tool is now able to successfully convert 96% of LYR files and 94.5% of MXD documents. This is a significant milestone, and with it we decided that MXD conversion support is now stable enough to move out of its previous beta state.

Aside from this milestone, the 3.7 release brings many more enhancements and improvements, including:

  • SLYR now has full support for PMF published map documents created by ArcGIS Publisher, along with a new Processing algorithm to convert from a PMF document to a QGS projects
  • We’ve also added support for converting ArcScene SXD scenes to QGS projects. This conversion is 2-dimensional only for now, but we plan on adding 3D conversion when QGIS’ 3D support further matures.
  • We now convert all data frames contained within MXD documents, instead of just the first data frame. Currently, these are exposed as their own individual groups within the project layer tree (when we enable support for page layout conversion we’ll be automatically creating corresponding map themes from each data frame).
  • We’ve added support for reading many more layer types, including raster catalog layers, topology layers, terrain layers, and LAS dataset layers. While QGIS doesn’t have support for these layer types, we need to fully parse them in order to convert the rest of the MXD document contents. Whenever an unsupported layer type like these are encountered the plugin shows a warning advising users which layers could not be successfully converted.
  • We’ve also added support for reading TIN layers. Although previous QGIS versions had no means to read ESRI tin layers, thanks to work done in the MDAL library the upcoming QGIS 3.10.1 release adds full support for reading these data files! Accordingly, we’ll be unlocking support for converting TIN layers contained within MXD documents following the 3.10.1 release.
  • Full support for WMTS and tiled internet layers
  • Support for reading MXD documents which have repaired by the MXD Doctor utility
  • Support for layers with a geopackage source
  • Conversion of ImageServer based layers (since QGIS only has basic support for ESRI ImageServers, we convert these layers to their equivalent MapServer versions wherever possible)
  • Basic support for representation renderers. Although QGIS has no capability to utilise the symbology linked with a representation renderer, we’ve added support for rendering these layers using any geometry overrides which may be present for the features.
  • Conversion support for simple scale dependent renderers (these are a funny beast, which can’t be created directly through the ArcMap interface and which require custom ArcObjects code to create! That said, we’ve encountered a few examples of these inside our test library so have added support for converting them to the equivalent QGIS rule based renderer).
  • We added a new “random marker fill” symbol type to the upstream QGIS project, which will be available in QGIS 3.12 along with support in SLYR for conversion of ESRI random marker fills.

So what’s next for SLYR? Over the remainder of 2019 we’ll be working furiously toward 100% conversion rates for LYR and MXD files. We’ll also start rolling out conversion support for page layouts to QGIS print layouts, and support for automatic conversion of ArcMap TIN layers to QGIS mesh layers.

Keep an eye on this blog and our Twitter channel for further updates!

 

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