Currently the tag excerpt for says

ArcMap is the main application of ArcGIS for Desktop and the tag for that (arcgis-desktop) should normally be used in preference

has 3,453 tagged questions, however only 1,236 of these aren't also tagged as .

If is the preferred tag for these questions, would it be appropriate to make a synonym rather than a separate tag?

  • Have you reviewed the discussions in meta.gis.stackexchange.com/questions/3131/… ? This specific combination might get a bit lost in the overall discussion, and I'm not sure it's specifically addressed as part of an answer, but it has been mentioned and is relevant.
    – Chris W
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 22:03
  • It's also why that wiki/excerpt reads the way it does...
    – Chris W
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 22:10
  • @ChrisW Yes I had reviewed that, but since that discussion was (coming up) 4 years ago views may have changed along with the ArcGIS environment. Just opening this up for a specific discussion (as you say things get lost in the overall larger discussion)
    – Midavalo Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 5:01
  • 1
    There are already 2 answers that I support. Just a comment here - to me this is the same as ArcGIS Server as ArcGIS Enterprise: meta.gis.stackexchange.com/questions/4375/… ArcGIS-Desktop is both ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro.
    – KHibma
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 17:38
  • @KHibma I believe there's another meta Q&A here about ArcGIS-Desktop vs ArcGIS-Pro. Esri do often say that ArcGIS Desktop includes ArcGIS Pro, but their Help site URLs do not make this obvious e.g. desktop.arcgis.com for ArcMap (et al) vs pro.arcgis.com (for ArcGIS Pro)
    – Midavalo Mod
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 17:44
  • @KHibma I think the tag info for arcgis-pro, arcmap and arcgis-desktop preserve the product composition while offering pragmatic tagging.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


No. ArcMap is a specific program within the ArcGIS Desktop product. Questions specifically targeted as that are no less relevant/deserving of a tag than the other components (which also have tags): ArcScene, ArcGlobe, and ArcCatalog.

It is useful to be able to follow a tag on the specific application rather than having it merged in with all Desktop questions, though as you point out both tags are applied in the current majority of cases (and an unknown amount of those 'desktop' tags are related directly to the previous discussion in Tagging ArcGIS questions?).


While the answer below represents the position that I held on this question at the time it was asked, and during the 18 months since, I now think that the increasing adoption of a second flagship application within ArcGIS Desktop leads me to consider that the ArcMap () and ArcGIS Pro () tags should now carry more weight than than the ArcGIS Desktop () tag.

That newer viewpoint is presented in my answer to Using tags [arcmap] and [arcgis-desktop]? Nevertheless, I think the remainder of the answer remains valid and so I am making no changes to it for now.

I can understand the temptation to make a synonym of on two grounds:

  • The ArcMap application represents about 95% of the ArcGIS Desktop GUI so they are not far from being coextensive, if only its GUI is considered.
  • Every ArcMap question comes from a user who has installed and would be using ArcGIS Desktop so it could save editors from having to later add the tag to a GUI question that has only been tagged .

However, I do NOT think that should be made a synonym of

To try and explain my reasoning, I will start by saying that tag classification is anything but an exact science, so I try to be pragmatic rather than purist.

When core ArcGIS Desktop (not including its extensions) is installed there are three main components that become available to its users:

  • its GUI (mostly ArcMap but also ArcCatalog and the ArcGIS Administrator)
  • its Python bindings (ArcPy can interact with ArcMap e.g. arcpy.RefreshActiveView())
  • its COM objects (ArcObjects can drive ArcMap)

The first tag that I use on a question for each of these components, respectively and usually mutually exclusively is:

There are some questions also tagged from each of these components.

If we were to make a synonym of then these additional questions would be added to the current questions tagged :

To do this would I think be "over lumping" because ArcPy, and especially ArcObjects, questions usually attract a different set of answerers to the ArcGIS Desktop GUI user.

I think the primary purpose of tags is to try and help potential answerers find the questions that match their skill sets using favorites, clicking tags, etc.

It would also mean that we no longer have three relatively "clean" self-assembling FAQs:

because some ArcPy and ArcObjects questions would now be mixed in with those currently identified as ArcGIS Desktop GUI questions by virtue of being tagged .

Personally, I never/rarely use the tag, because I prefer to tag any ArcMap question with first. If I see a question that is using the ArcMap application that has not been tagged then I add it. If I see a question tagged with both and then I usually leave both there, but because I consider to be a low value tag (due to the amount of overlap with ) then if I think there is a more valuable tag to add then that is the one that I will remove.

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