The Technical Reasons for Transitioning to Esri’s Network Management Framework

Written by Kim Sundeen, GIS Analyst/Developer, RAMTeCH

In our previous post, we presented a general understanding of what the Network Management Framework is. Now, we’ll walk through a scenario involving an existing GIS system that could benefit from making the transition. The main benefit to transitioning to Network Management is to have out-of-the-box tracing and applications to use, such as simplified tracing with little to no customization, field-ready apps for your mobile workforce, or geoprocessing tools that automatically publish your map layers as feature or map services. While much of this functionality already exists in ArcGIS 10.5.x, the Network Management Framework offers a more streamlined approach for your tracing and data editing needs.

Five Basic Network Management Concepts

Additional features of the new platform include an enhanced and consolidated connectivity model, containment model, improved transaction versioning model, and OOTB tracing and schematic diagramming. Esri’s Network Management Team outlines these features and core functionality in its Beta documentation.

Improved Connectivity Model

The user can establish both a physical connection between geographically coincident points and a logical association between related features for logical tracing. The user can now link non-geometrically coincident features together, or assign features as attached devices, model the inflow and outflow from a device, or contain other equipment within a parent item. Additionally, users have more precise control over which features connect to others by assigning a subtype and domain to each subtype in each feature class. The new subtype field is called AssetGroup and the field with domains for each AssetGroup is called the AssetType. The AssetType is a secondary designation of the AssetGroup.

Domain Structure

Containment Model

The user can group other features within a higher-level parent feature for quick display and a “container” view to see systems as parents of sub-systems. This more realistically models equipment within a larger “parent” component such as containing a regulator, valve, and pipes within the “parent” regulator station. Users update these associations using a geoprocessing tool for modifying or creating new Containment Associations.


Improved Transaction Model

A similar process for reconciling and posting will be used, but now the performance and versioning, under-the-hood is more performant and scalable. The user can relinquish the numerous versions of previous SDE versioning environment. The versioning system relies on time stamps as “edit_moments.” One table is shown below from SQL Server database. The branch_id represents a version created from the DEFAULT version. In place of the previous state tree, this new versioning system relies on the “edit_moments” based on the “branch_id” where 0 is the DEFAULT version and 1 is the child version created.

Branching Table

Improved Quality Control

Users can quickly check data edits against the new model’s connectivity rules by validating “dirty areas.” Dirty areas indicate that there are newly-entered or modified features, associations, or attributes. The validation process checks all features, attributes, and associations against connectivity (topology) rules. Checking validation errors is easier by reviewing error messages provided in the Utility Network feature class line errors and point errors feature classes.


Out-of-the-Box Tracing

Users can configure (rather than customize) geoprocessing tools for tracing features that are connected, upstream or downstream, in an isolation zone of a power outage or valve upstream, within a pressure zone, or show valid connectivity for cathodic protection. These are built on a concept of a subnetwork through tiers for different flow systems such as the distribution or transmission system. With six default traces (upstream, downstream, connected, subnetwork, subnetwork controllers, and loops), users now have additional configuration options of network attribute filters, functions, terminators, nearest assets, and output filters.

Additional tracing configuration options empower the user to quickly summarize, filter, and identify specific types of features. Beyond the six default traces, there are also six configuration types to each trace including Valid Consistency, Network Attribute Filters, Functions, Terminators, Nearest, and Output Filters. With each of these additional configurations, users have numerous options to customize to trace and summarize or filter exactly the trace information they seek.

Connected Trace

Schematic Diagraming

Users now can automatically generate logical diagrams for engineering specs or sharing as a semi-replacement for drafting and design software. Diagrams are simply created after running a trace and selecting the option to make the trace results a diagram. Users have options to make a Basic, CollapseContainers, or, ExpandContainers diagram. Below is an example of a Basic diagram created from an upstream trace.

Trace Diagram

We used the upstream trace select features as input to the Diagram tool. There are numerous ways to symbolize diagrams, but the next image is a simple default representation.

The Network Management Framework functionality discussed here meets demand for a:

  • Web GIS for desktop and mobile workforce;
  • More standardized and consolidated schema design;
  • Physically- and logically-connected model for tracing OOTB; and
  • More Performant and dynamic rendering experience on mobile and desktop devices.

Wrapping Up

Esri designed the Network Management Framework for the next 15 years to enable accessing maps and data everywhere across all platforms and devices, to publish and access entirely services-based features, and to implement a simplified data model. The main benefits for transitioning to the new Framework include the enhanced connectivity model, new containment model, improved transaction versioning model, out-of-the-box tracing, and schematic diagrams.

In future posts, we’ll explain the operational reasons why transitioning to the Network Management Framework offers significant value to your business.


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