A starter level ArcGIS account is reasonable. I think I paid $100 for one solid year. Buyer beware though--this is definitely an enterprise solution unless you are really careful not to bring in any data that will be automatically geocoded ($$$$$) or you store large maps and data on the platform. The price tag can bloat quickly.
It was a great platform to simply learn about GIS and creating maps. Their conference sessions from last year are great educational opportunities and they offer an abundance of free tools, courses, and webinars. What they don’t offer is ArcGIS Pro compatible with MacOS. A deal breaker for me. Back in the early days of Tableau, I had to bootcamp my hard-drive and run windows on a partition. I hate Windows. When Tableau was available for MacOs I vowed to never return. Buh bye Alteryx. Yes, it might be my loss but there was also a lot to gain. ArcGIS online may be all you need. No software to install but there aren’t scripting functions unless you are on desktop version (ArcGIS Pro).
The Living Atlas is amazing and after a quick tutorial you are able to build maps using their Census data layers and a wide variety of other ready built datasets for you to explore. Happy to share a few videos I created on how to create a story map.
I am sharing a professional hack with you. Once I felt comfortable in my geospatial skills I switched to an open source platform--QGIS. There is a python plug-in readily available and you are off to the races. This will be the focus of the book.
I am also trying out a little live forum--link below--where we can chat in real time.
Python is versatile (and free). I often demonstrate how to address the same question using 3 different methods. Look for these sessions to increase as I move through the book. I create and test a variety of visualizations and often perfectly great maps are too twitchy for a book where many users will be using different software. I will include them here for our discussion and in future blogs and newsletters.
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