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ArcGIS Field Apps Seminar: your questions answered Part 3

See questions and answers from Part 3 of our “ArcGIS Field Apps: Take the Power of Location Anywhere” seminar. In this final Q&A, we cover questions about Survey123 and QuickCapture.

Welcome back to the third and final part of the ArcGIS Field Apps Seminar Q&A. While the majority of the questions from seminar were about Survey123, scroll to the end if you asked about QuickCapture. Just a reminder many Field Maps and app integration questions were answered in part 1 and part 2, and the seminar recordings are available.

General Survey123 Questions

Q: Will Survey123 be still available now that Field Maps is released?

A: Field Maps is not replacing Survey123 (nor QuickCapture) due to the unique data capture capabilities of each app. While Field Maps will continue to evolve with what is supported for the smart form, it cannot replace all of the advanced capabilities of XLS form that you work with in Survey123.

Q: Does Suvey123 consume credits?

A: Survey123 consumes ArcGIS Online credits for storage and when printing reports. A minimum cost of 0.5 credits is charged per report, for multiple survey records in a summary report, the charge is 0.5 credits per record in the report. Any related features of a single survey record can be included in the report at no extra charge. Publishing, sharing and viewing the results of a survey do not consume credits.

Q: Does Esri consider Survey123 as a potential alternative to a non-spatial survey approach such as SurveyMonkey?

A: While Survey123 will always attempt to capture a device location for each survey, you have a number of options to provide, in essence, a non-spatial survey to the user. You actually don’t need to include a map type question to your user – a geopoint will automatically be captured. Additionally, you may choose to hide the map using the new hidden appearance type in Connect version 3.11 - the location is still  available for use with other XLS Form expressions. Additionally, the new address question options currently in beta for the Survey123 web designer let your survey automatically geocode addresses entered in by the user without need for a map.

Q: Can Survey123 allow anonymous submissions when published on an Enterprise portal?

A: Anonymous surveys are an option with both ArcGIS Online and Enterprise, just choose to share with the public when you publish your survey. Consult the best practices for securing the data collected in the public surveys whether you are using the website designer or Connect to create and publish them.

Q: What options do we have for offline basemaps (imagery, topo)?

A: For the Survey123 field app you may include an offline basemap. You enable this through the map settings in Survey123 Connect and can package your imagery or topo data into a tile package (TPK). You can also use a vector tile package (VTPK) or mobile map package (MMPK), for details, see prepare basemaps for offline use.

Survey123 Data Collection Capabilities

Q:  Is it possible to use an already existing polygon/point/line from an existing layer to associate with a name from one of your lists?

A: The ability to dynamically create choice lists based on existing data, including a feature layer or table, is currently in beta for version 3.12 and is to be released soon. The new search() appearance capability allows you to query ArcGIS layers and populate choice lists based on the results of the search query. You may find information on how test this capability by signing up for the Survey123 Early Adopter program. At this time, this is available for use in the field app only.

Q: Beyond filling out attributes, can you collect GPS points, lines and polygons using Survey123?

A: While the attributes collected by questions in the form are the focus of Survey123, you may collect point, line and polygon data using your device locator or a connected GNSS for higher accuracy data collection. You may also use Connect to configure your form to record GPS metadata.

Q: Can you stream the GPS capture of lines and polygons, similar to Collector or Field Maps?

A: At this time streaming is not possible, though you can consider adding your requirement to Survey123 ideas on GeoNet as the team is considering adding support for this. Meanwhile explore the current capabilities for line and polygon capture.

Q: Can you edit a record in Survey123 that was created by another user?

A: Editing existing surveys using the Survey123 field app is possible through the inbox option enabled from Survey123 Connect. Editing data with the Survey123 web app can be done using the URL parameters.

Creating the Form: Survey123 Designer or Connect

Q: Can you create a basic survey on the web designer Survey123, then modify it further in Connect?

A: When you sign into Survey123 Connect, you may download a survey created and published from web designer to your desktop, then use Connect to modify the form. You may also choose to create a new survey from your existing survey. Once you modify the survey using Excel you need to publish it to make the changes available to users. Note if you update an existing survey, some changes made to the survey XLS form, especially schema changes, will overwrite the existing feature layer (you will be warned when you publish). Make sure to back up the feature layer before publishing to avoid losing the data already collected. Also remember that once a survey created with web designer is modified in Connect, you can no longer edit the survey XLS form web designer – you must use Connect. Themes, webhooks and sharing options can still be edited in the web designer.

Q: Can you easily upgrade older surveys to the new  XLS form and access the new functionality when using Survey123 Connect?

A: Once you update your version of Survey123 Connect, you may open an existing survey and add the new capabilities then republish the survey to make the changes available. Review what’s new for each release in the FAQs and consult the documentation to learn the impact of making changes on your survey. Also learn more about how to upgrade your surveys to the latest version of the web form.

Q: Is it possible to allow a user to create multiple geopoints within one survey using Survey123 Connect?

A: By using a repeat you may collect multiple geopoints per survey (or geotrace or geoshape features). However, only one geometry type can be used per survey. Repeats create a related table to store the additional records and must be created using Survey123 Connect.

Q: Can the choice lists be "data driven", or do all the choices have to be entered into the design "spreadsheet"?

A:  Survey123 allows you to use an external select for select_one type questions. You create a separate tab in the survey spreadsheet for this choice list that is saved to an external .csv file that is loaded into the survey on demand. The external choice list allows your lists for select_one and select_multiple questions to reference choices stored in an external CSV file. You will need to use Connect to enable these options and the .csv list files are published to your ArcGIS Organization with your survey. You can create external choice lists for surveys hosted in both for ArcGIS Online as well as Enterprise, in hybrid deployments or Enterprise entirely hosted on-premises.

Q: Is there a maximum number of questions you can have on a survey? Is the speed or performance of the survey affected by the size of the survey? If so, what is the best practices for creating and managing large surveys?

A: When publishing to ArcGIS Online, a survey can contain a maximum of 1,024 columns (including system fields). The maximum number of columns that a feature layer published to an ArcGIS Enterprise portal can contain depends on your enterprise geodatabase. The more questions you add to your survey, the longer it will take to load. Survey performance is also dependent on the complexity of the logic you add such as calculations and pulldata. While you can place part of your survey into a repeat to circumvent this limit, keep in mind you may exceed the practical maximum amount of questions you can include before facing performance issues. If you are working with very long choice lists, using an external choice list can greatly improve your survey’s performance.

Q: Are there any templates available to configure and customize in Excel with Survey123 Connect?

A:  Both the Survey123 web designer and Connect provide templates and samples to help you get started when you create a new survey.

Q: When would you use the advanced template vs the standard template in Survey123 Connect?

A:  The standard template includes only those features that are supported in both the Survey123 field app and web app. The Advanced template includes all XLS features supported in Survey123. For a list of which question types are functional in the field vs. the web app see the documentation.

Q: Can field domains chain together? For example, one domain is a year, another domain is a list with items broken down by year, can the domain selection of one field affect the others?

A: In Survey123 this is known as a choice filter or a cascading select, where you use multiple columns of choices to restrict the available choices based on the answer to a previous question. This will make your surveys easier to use, keeping choice lists small, by only presenting relevant options to users. You need to use Survey123 Connect to implement cascading selects.

Example of a Survey123 form in an Excel spreadsheet showing how to create a choice list to limit the wine varietal choices presented based on wine colour.

The XLS form with the choice list “wine_colour” is used to with the choice filter “wine_colour” to restrict varietals presented to the survey user, dependant on choosing white or red wine in a previous question.

Q: Can Survey123 be used on existing feature layers?

A: Yes  – Survey123 Connect gives you the option to create a survey from an existing feature layer, and you may use the survey form to collect new as well as edit existing data.

Q:  Does the option to add multiline images remove the need for repeats on images? What if you  don't know how many images need to be added?

A: Support for the multiline appearance in image questions was added with Survey123 Connect version 3.10 and it allows you to avoid using repeats to add multiple images per survey. You may specify limits on how many photos are attached by using a calculation to count the number of photos and apply a constraint to limit them.

Example of a Survey123 form in an Excel spreadsheet showing how to calculate the number of photos submitted and apply a constraint to limit the number of photos that can be attached to less than five.

XLS form to count the selected number of photos then constraint how many may be submitted.

Survey123 Website

Q: Do Survey123 feature reports work with an on-premises configuration Enterprise environment without the need for the Enterprise to access the internet?

A: At this time Feature reports require use of ArcGIS Online – so you can either be using ArcGIS Online or a hybrid approach using ArcGIS Enterprise with the website from ArcGIS Online.  While at this time you can’t use the feature reports with an entirely on-premises environment, this capability is one we are looking into on our longer-term road map.

For the limitations in using Survey123 with ArcGIS Enterprise on-premises, see the documentation.

Q: What is the most effective way to migrate data collected in Survey123 into SDE?

A: You can export data from the feature service collected using Survey123 directly from your ArcGIS Organization then import into your SDE server database using tools in ArcGIS Desktop. You may also choose to author a survey against a layer in SDE to collect data directly into it.

Q: Can survey images be automatically added to Survey123 Word template reports?

A: Image type questions including multiple photos may be added to your feature report template. This blog is a good resource to learn how – scroll down to the section entitled “Photos in reports”.

Q: Could we export a report in PDF?

A: From the data tab on the Survey123 website you may print individual survey records to PDF without using reports. You can print reports as either a Microsoft Word file (.docx) or a PDF file (.pdf). Select your preferred file format from the Format drop-down menu.

QuickCapture Data Collection Capabilities

Q: Can we add our own symbols and images for the buttons in QuickCapture?

A: Your QuickCapture project generates the buttons defined by the symbology of your layers. A group is created for each layer, and a button is created for each unique symbol that you have already defined for each feature in either in your desktop GIS or in your ArcGIS organization in the layer properties or using the map viewer.

How to customize your buttons or modify their parameters is described in the documentation. If you symbolize your layers using a Simple Renderer or UniqueValue Renderer, the designer applies the label, colour, shape or picture defined in the symbology when creating buttons.

Q: Is it possible in QuickCapture to 'press a button' via voice command? e.g. while riding a bicycle and use QuickCapture via a headset?

A:  QuickCapture works really well with Apple voice command accessibility features in iOS. To learn how to use voice commands to launch the app, open a project and to collect data, follow these steps.

Q: Can we use QuickCapture to update existing data?

A: No, QuickCapture only allows capture of new data.

Q: Can you use your own aerial image or basemap in QuickCapture? Either in a hosted service or some other way?

A: QuickCapture Designer allows you to configure a custom map for your project, so you can add your own imagery data from a hosted service to your map. Alternatively, create mobile map packages or tile or vector tile packages to include your raster data in the map when working offline. 

Example of how to change the map used in your QuickCapture project to another basemap, web map or map package.

Select a basemap or your own webmap or map package to include with your QuickCapture project.

Q: We are looking to utilize Quick Capture for aerial surveys and need to know if multiple observations can be selected and recorded for a single observation point.

A: While you cannot can capture multiple observations for one point at one time in the same way as you can with a Survey123 repeat, QuickCapture does offer the exclusivity group option. This allows more than one button for more than one observation to be active and can work for polyline and polygon buttons as well as points with streaming mode enabled.

That’s your ArcGIS Field Apps seminar Q&A wrapped up! I hope I’ve been able to answer most of your  questions and provide the resources you need to set you up for a fantastic summer of taking your GIS outside!

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Sue Enyedy is Esri Canada’s GeoMobility Advocate. She promotes the effective adoption of Esri’s mobile solutions to help organizations connect and optimize their field and office operations using GIS. Sue has worked at the Region of Halton and at Geomatics International during her GIS career. Her passion for geography and GIS started at McMaster University, where she completed bachelor and master of science degrees.

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