Releases and patches

ArcGIS Pro software releases follow the semantic versioning specification. This specification defines software versions according to a major.minor.patch scheme and sets expectations so you can plan a smooth upgrade process to mitigate risk and avoid disruptions in your collaborative work.

The table below summarizes the differences, and the subsections that follow it go into more detail.

Major.minor.patchExampleNew functionality addedInstallation and compatibility considerations




Significant new code to support new functionality is introduced. Backward compatibility-breaking changes are made, so ArcGIS Pro documents can't be shared with earlier major versions.




Significant new code to support new functionality is introduced.




Minimal code changes are made to fix bugs and address security vulnerabilities.

Major releases

Major releases introduce changes that are not backward compatible. These include changes to ArcGIS Pro project files (.aprx) and other document formats, such as layer files, map files, project templates, reports, and layout files. They also introduce breaking API changes to ArcGIS Pro SDK.

Breaking changes are commonly noticed with projects. When a project is created in one major release version of ArcGIS Pro, it cannot be opened by an earlier major version of the software. Although projects are forward compatible across major releases (for example, a project created in ArcGIS Pro 2.x.x can be opened in 3.x.x), once the project is saved in the newer major version (3.x.x), it cannot be opened in the older major version (2.x.x). For reasons like these, collaborators often coordinate upgrades to new major versions.

Major releases of ArcGIS Pro are infrequent and organizations typically need to plan ahead to ensure smooth migration of workflows, customizations, and documents. Major releases also include code to fix bugs and address security vulnerabilities.

Major release example

In 2.8.1, the major part is 2, meaning this version is a breaking change from the 1.x.x series of software. Documents and APIs in 2.8.1 are not compatible with earlier releases such as 1.4.0. A project or layer file created in 2.8.1 cannot be opened in 1.4.0. It is not possible to directly save a version 2.x.x project in a format compatible with version 1.x.x; however, some project items can be packaged in the 1.x.x format. For more information, see the Packages section below.


Map packages, mobile map packages, layer packages, and geoprocessing packages are compatible with the previous major release; that is, a package created in ArcGIS Pro 3.x.x can be imported or added to an ArcGIS Pro 2.x.x project. Similarly, project packages created in ArcGIS Pro 3.x.x can be opened in 2.x.x versions.


Add-ins are neither backward compatible nor forward compatible across major releases. An add-in built for version 3.x.x will not load in version 2.x.x An add-in built for version 2.x.x will not load in version 3.x.x. At major releases, developers need to rebuild add-ins using the latest version of ArcGIS Pro SDK. See What's New for Developers for more information. Users should contact their providers for updated versions of add-ins.

Minor releases

Minor releases deliver new functionality but should not break existing workflows, customizations, or document compatibility. Earlier minor versions of ArcGIS Pro can open documents created in later minor versions of the same major release, but new functionality will be unavailable. Because minor releases contain significant code changes in support of new functionality, some organizations roll them out in a limited testing environment before deploying them widely. Users in organizations with less tightly controlled environments often upgrade to the next release using Software Update in ArcGIS Pro, which automatically notifies you when a new release or patch is available.

For ArcGIS Pro, minor releases typically occur twice a year. They also include code to fix bugs and address security vulnerabilities.

Minor release example

In 2.8.1, the minor part is 8, meaning this version contains new functionality not available in the 2.7.x series of releases. A new symbol type introduced in 2.8.0 can be saved in a layer file, and the layer file can be opened in 2.7.x, but the new symbol type is not visible.


All changes introduced by patches are both backward compatible and forward compatible. Patches work seamlessly with existing projects and documents. Because patches only fix bugs and security vulnerabilities, installing a patch is generally regarded as safer than not installing it.

As with minor releases, patches do not break existing workflows, customizations, or document compatibility. Because patches do not deliver new functionality, they contain minimal code changes and are typically deployed without the detailed recertification that might be done for a major or minor release.


Some Esri software products do not follow semantic versioning. These products also call this type of release a patch, but the version number is not changed, and the presence of the patch is only viewable through Windows Control Panel or the Esri PatchFinder utility.

Patch example

In 2.8.1, the patch part is 1, meaning this version contains bug fixes intended to correct problems identified in the 2.8.0 release.

Release information for ArcGIS Pro

The product life cycle chart lists all release and retirement dates, and other related information, for ArcGIS Pro 3.3 and earlier versions.

For more information, open the My Esri help and go to Common Questions and Guided Help.

Related topics