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“The time to collaborate using ArcGIS is now” – Q&A from the webinar

Let us answer your questions related to partnered or distributed collaboration for your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise accounts.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in our “The time to collaborate using ArcGIS is now (in French)” webinar on April 20, 2022. Mike Gregotski, Audrey Beaudoin-Arcand and I had the pleasure of showing you the different sharing methods by using groups in a collaboration.

You can access the webinar recording here (in French).

During the webinar, we received several questions from our enthusiastic audience about the vast configuration and setting possibilities related to collaboration in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. Unfortunately, we could not answer all the questions, but we did some research and here are our answers to your questions.

Q: Do partnered and distributed collaborations consume credits in ArcGIS Online?

A: Short answer – no. Neither distributed nor partnered collaboration consume credits.

In partnered collaboration, the web service URL link remains within the owner organization that shared the service with the group and therefore the owner organization consumes credits for hosting the service. However, if the non-owner account of the layer does geoprocessing or geocoding on this same layer, the non-owner account will consume credits for the processing performed.

In distributed collaboration, if the content is shared as a reference, the owner of the content hosts the data and therefore only the geoprocessing of the content by an ArcGIS Online account consumes credits.

However, if the content is shared as a copy, the ArcGIS Online account must take the volume of data in the workspace into consideration. Since the data will be replicated in the account, a consumption of credit will occur for hosting the data.

For more information on credit consumption, see this link.

Q: For guest organizations, what are the editing possibilities, reading data on a card?

A: Short answer – it depends on how the host has configured the settings (we are referring to distributed collaboration).

You must first ensure that the host organization has configured the workspace appropriately, pointing out the importance of good communication between organizations to implement a distributed collaboration. The host organization chooses 1) whether the sharing will be done as a copy or as a reference, 2) whether two-way edits will be allowed (from ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9) and 3) how to access the content. If the workspace is configured to send and receive, or just to receive content, the guest will be able to access content shared by the host.

The settings needed in the workspace to enable edits for the guest organizations.

Then, you need to configure the content settings. You need to ensure that activation of the update is allowed and thus allow to sync the edits as in the demo.

The settings needed to edit content by a guest organization during distributed collaboration.

In the demo, we shared our content as a copy. This way of sharing allows the owner of the original layer and the owner of the copied layer to make the desired edits since the data is hosted in each of the two organizations. Sharing as a reference is a bit more complex, as the content owner must grant access to the receiving organization to access the data hosted in the owner organization. See the article “Manage collaborations as guest” for more information on the process.

Q: Should there always be a step for accepting changes between the data owner and the recipient in a distributed collaboration shared as a copy?

A: In the demo, users of the City of Geojdo ArcGIS Online account were editing features in a point layer based on the condition of the building following a devastating fire. Subsequently, the administrator of the City’s ArcGIS Enterprise account accepted the edits and a change in the symbology was noticed after the acceptance.

The acceptance process for the edits made by the field team between the ArcGIS Enterprise and the ArcGIS Online accounts.

The acceptance process was not necessary, it was an illustration to demonstrate how to do a collaboration in real time. Control edits on a per-field basis was added in the ArcGIS Online account to limit the editable fields.

Q: Host: ArcGIS Online or Enterprise? Guest: Only ArcGIS Enterprise?

A: In the distributed collaboration, if all organizations in the collaboration are ArcGIS Enterprise accounts, one ArcGIS Enterprise account can be the host and another ArcGIS Enterprise account can be the guest. Once an ArcGIS Online account is involved in the collaboration, that account will necessarily be the collaboration host and ArcGIS Enterprise accounts will be the guests. There can only be one ArcGIS Online account within collaboration and it will always be the host. An ArcGIS Online account cannot be a guest in a distributed collaboration.

Q: I thought there was a more direct reading of ArcGIS Enterprise from ArcGIS Online. I realize that is not the case since synchronization must be shared.

A: Distributed collaboration was originally developed to facilitate content sharing between ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise accounts. The example in the demo shows a fairly common geospatial strategy among certain organizations. The ArcGIS Enterprise account is strictly used internally to develop and host data. The Enterprise environment is typically highly secure to keep information confidential. The ArcGIS Online account is therefore used to transition from a pre-production environment to production and accessibility for the public, or field data collection.

However, other tools could be used to migrate content between these two environments. First, the ArcGIS Online Assistant is a tool that enables communication between an ArcGIS Online account and ArcGIS Enterprise (beta version here). For more information, refer to this user guide.

The ArcGIS Python API is also available in ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro. This allows automation of processes such as migrating content between ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise accounts, or a combination of both. Check out this source of information to learn how to do this.

Q: What ArcGIS Online permission level do I need to become a Collaboration Coordinator?

A: In partnered collaboration, your role must be of a moderator or administrator and your profile visibility must be set to "Everyone (public)" or "All organization members".

Q: Can we use an existing group for collaboration?

A: Yes, it is possible to use an existing group for distributed and partnered collaboration. However, for partnered collaboration, you must ensure that membership to the group is specified as “Partnered collaboration and my organization’s members only”.

“Partnered collaboration and my organization’s members only” setting required to allow a partnered collaboration.

Q: How many Collaboration Coordinators can I have in my organization?

A: In partnered collaboration, all administrators and moderators can be Collaboration Coordinators, but an organization can only be in a partnered collaboration with ten external organizations at one time.

Q: Can a conflict be detected during two-way update in a distributed collaboration?

A: No. Unfortunately, the account that makes the last change before synchronizing wins! Hence this is an excellent reason to plan the distributed collaboration thoroughly before sending the invitations. The owner of the layer can also put restrictions on editing features using Constraint attribute rules and domains.

Q: Can I select which layers I want to allow two-way sync?

A: Short answer, unless it prevents any updates to one layer, there is no way to select which layers you want to allow two-way synchronization in the workspace.

However, there can be multiple workspaces within a single distributed collaboration. It would therefore be necessary to create a workspace that allows a two-way sync with the desired layers and a second workspace to sync unidirectionally.

If you still have questions related to collaboration in ArcGIS, you are not alone. Use these available resources for distributed collaboration and for partnered collaboration.

Thanks again for viewing our webinar and we hope to see you again very soon. Visit this link to see the dates for the upcoming webinars.

This post was written in French by Tristan Gingras-Hill and can be viewed here.