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Imagery and raster in ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro allows you to manage, analyze, visualize, and share your raster data. This raster functionality is contextual, which means that the options presented depend on the type of data you have selected. When you work with multiple images or mosaic datasets, the options on the ribbon will be applied only to the layers you have selected in the Contents pane. When you select an image in the Contents pane, the Appearance and Data tabs appear under the Raster Layer contextual tab on the ribbon. There are other core tabs, such as the Imagery tab, that are always available.

Manage imagery and raster datasets

ArcGIS Pro provides a rich collection of tools to manage and serve large collections of imagery. There are two features that make up the core components of image management: mosaic datasets and raster products. Traditionally, a mosaic is created when you stitch together a collection of images to create one seamless image. The mosaic dataset can do that, but it also uses image attributes, such as acquisition date, cloud cover, or spatial resolution, to help you manage a huge collection of imagery, even one comprised of overlapping images or images with varying spatial resolutions. Instead of creating new files when you want to change which images are displayed, the mosaic dataset processes the imagery in-memory, enabling it to quickly display your imagery of interest, regardless of the size of your collection.

Most imagery comes with a metadata file that describes the sensor and the conditions under which the image was acquired. With the most commonly used sensors, ArcGIS Pro reads the metadata file and compiles all the bands into layers that can display the multispectral bands, pan sharpened image, or thermal bands, depending on the capabilities of the sensor. Similar to a mosaic dataset, band composition happens in-memory, so it displays quickly without creating new files.

Process and analyze imagery

Traditionally, image and raster analysis is realized through geoprocessing tools. The geoprocessing tools, Python scripting, and ModelBuilder work in unison to provide efficient automation of data management operations in the geoprocessing framework.

While these geoprocessing tools are vital to many workflows, there is another modern approach to image and raster analysis that processes and displays your results immediately as you pan and zoom to imagery. This approach uses raster functions to process imagery as it is accessed. Raster functions work in-memory and avoid the time and overhead of reading and writing intermediate files to disk. An extensive range of raster functions is available out of the box. There are also several tools on the Imagery tab within the Indices gallery and Process gallery. These tools provide on-the-fly processing for common tasks.

ArcGIS Pro also allows you to use raster functions that process the entire image extent at the source resolution. Distributed raster analysis uses Portal for ArcGIS to boost the performance of raster processing by distributing the workload to the server. There is also a set of global functions which can process the extent of your raster at full resolution. Global functions can be run locally on your machine, but it is recommended that you use the power of your ArcGIS Enterprise portal to perform raster analysis on your data.

Visualize imagery

On the Appearance tab, you have access to the functionality you need to preprocess your imagery, alter the display or the way the data is rendered, and compare one layer with another one below it. The process for working with mosaic datasets is the same as it is for a single image, provided that you select the image layer in the mosaic dataset, rather than the footprint, boundary, or mosaic dataset name. If you select the boundary or footprint layers, the ribbon will show contextual tabs associated with vector files. For more information, see Raster Appearance tab.

ArcGIS Pro enables you to display imagery in 2D and 3D space. Additionally, multiple 2D and 3D views can be linked so you can work with different data types and different views of the same area as you roam and zoom your data. This robust capability results in processing efficiencies and more powerful analytical and visual analysis.


Image classification allows you to extract classes, or groups, from a raster image. The raster resulting from image classification can be used to create thematic maps. There are two types of classification, supervised and unsupervised, which differ with respect to the interaction between the analyst and the computer during classification. Segmentation can be performed prior to classification to extract features from imagery based on objects. The Image Classification Wizard can be used to guide you through the classification process. If you only want to perform a portion of the classification workflow, you can use the various image classification tools to perform your tasks.

Ortho Mapping

An unrectified raster image has distortion that is introduced by the sensor and the earth's terrain. Orthorectification is the process of stretching the image to match the spatial accuracy of a map by considering location, elevation, and sensor information. To learn more about orthorectification, see Introduction to ortho mapping.


Georeferencing your raster data defines its correct geographic location so that it can be viewed, queried, and analyzed with other geographic data. To georeference your data, you create control points that tie your raster to real geographic coordinates. The tools to georeference raster data are located on the Georeference tab. For more information about georeferencing, see Overview of georeferencing.

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