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Collector for ArcGIS

8 Posts authored by: KDonia-esristaff Employee

I recently shared a template for a Collector cheat sheet that could be taken, customized, and distributed to your users. It is a light-weight, single sheet of paper option. It is not enough for some organizations: some want a bit more detail, images, and setup included. This longer template speaks to those organizations.

 

This help template focuses on the basic workflow of collecting data with the internal GPS while online with optional sections that can be inserted for more advanced workflows. Like the cheat sheet, it is for you to customize. Unlike the cheat sheet, there is more to customize here based on your organization’s workflows. This template uses Word’s Quick Parts to provide a collection of sections you can insert to support more advanced workflows, including using external or high accuracy GPS and working offline.

 

To use the template:

  1. Download the Word template, a .dotx file that is attached to this post.
  2. Save it to your Documents > Custom Office Templates folder.
  3. Open Word and pick the Collector Mobile Worker Help template as the basis for a new document.
  4. Follow the instructions in the template for updating. This includes inserting some sections saved as Quick Parts. For example, use the Quick Part to insert the sign in section appropriate for your users. If you use external GPS, work offline, perform GPS averaging, or have data with related records, there are additional Quick Parts you’ll want to insert. To use a Quick Part, put your cursor where you need the text inserted, go to Word’s Insert tab, and in the Text section of the tab click Quick Parts. Click AutoText and choose the Quick Part to insert.

 

While the template provided here focuses on the steps and information for iPhone, it is something that we could provide for the other devices as well. We wanted to get your feedback on it before doing so: Would you use this? What don’t you like about the format? Are the Quick Parts a useful format, or is there something else you’d want to see us use? Are there places that need more images or screen captures?

 

Leave a comment and share your thoughts! If you’d like to share your customized version of the template with us, please email it to Collector4ArcGIS@esri.com so that we can see how you use or plan to use this template.

Collector has documentation, but while out in the field mobile workers often need something lighter weight—something that can be printed and taken along (especially if working offline). They need a single reference sheet that helps them with common tasks and some issues.

 

We’ve always relied on admins and project leads to create these for their mobile workers (and to those of you that have shared yours with us, thank you!). While there are some project specific components, there is a lot that is common in such sheets. We’ve taken some of the common questions and tasks and compiled them into a template you can use to jumpstart creating your own cheat sheet for your mobile workers, and it is attached to this post for you to download, customize, and use.

 

This is our first draft, so we’re looking for your feedback. Is this something you’d use? What works for you in it, and what would you change? Is there something missing? Is there extra info that you don’t want to see? Leave a comment and let us know! If you’d like to share your customized version with us, please email it to Collector4ArcGIS@esri.com so that we can see how you use or plan to use this template.

Working in the field, you might be near your asset but not right at it. In Collector’s Aurora Beta you can use the compass to get right to where you need to be. The map orients itself the direction you are facing and a guideline shows the direction to the asset.

 

I recently used it to find a fire hydrant. Once I was close and looked around, the compass told me exactly which way to face to see it. In this case the hydrant was visible, but if it was obstructed I still would have found it.

 

 

Try it out:

  1. Tap an asset on the map that you want to find.
  2. Tap Overflow  on the toolbar below the asset’s details.
  3. Tap Compass .
  4. Follow the guideline to the asset you were looking for.

 

If you are not close to your asset and need to navigate streets to get there, use Directions  (also available in the asset's overflow) before you use the compass. With this Beta you can pick which navigation app you want to use for directions: Apple Maps, Google Maps, Navigator for ArcGIS – use the one that works for you.

The first beta of Collector’s Aurora project is available on iOS! All of you that expressed interest in iOS should have a TestFlight email and access to the beta. To get you started exploring the app, here are 5 things to try out with this beta:

 

  1. Open better-looking maps
    Create great looking maps in your portal and open them in Collector. Use vector basemaps, labels (including using Arcade expressions), and advanced symbology. See how they perform and look, even rotated.
  2. Use the new cross-hairs for placing your points
    When editing, the map uses a target to place the point so that your finger doesn’t get in the way of seeing where you are placing it. Use the GPS or move the map to get the cross-hairs over the location for your point.
  3. See the map and attributes together
    You can see both the map and the attributes at the same time. Slide the new panel up and down, seeing more or less of the map, as you need.
  4. Edit attributes inline
    You don’t need to leave the split view to edit your attributes, either: edit them in place.
  5. Quickly access the camera
    In one tap, get to the camera so that you can take a picture of your asset.

 

 

These are some places to start your exploration, but dig in to the app and check out all the changes we’ve made! Collect points, lines, and polygons. Use streaming, and GPS averaging. Take your maps, and the maps you’ve wanted to make, and see how they do. Keep in mind that this is the first of a series of betas, so not all the functionality you know and love in Collector today is included. In particular, you won’t find offline workflows, high accuracy GPS, or related records supported yet.

 

We are ready for your feedback. Come on over to the Early Adopter community and join the discussions.
If you haven’t signed up for the beta yet, email CollectorBeta@esri.com.

Collector for ArcGIS 17.0.4 is now available on iOS. This release addresses a few bugs introduced with 17.0.3, including BUG-000108532 (subtype codes show instead of descriptions).

We often talk about how easy it is to collect data using Collector. But Collector participates in two major workflows: data collection (and building your own asset repository) and inspection (and knowing the state of each asset in that repository). Here I want to talk about inspections. First, let’s see how you can complete an inspection in Collector. Then I’ll talk about how the data was set up and how the map was made.

 

Inspect a hydrant

Use a Try it map in Collector to do an inspection yourself. Let’s pretend we are firefighters in Naperville, IL, and need to inspect fire hydrants. The last thing we want is to find out one isn’t functional because we need it!

  1. Open Collector and select Try it (iOS and Android) or Try Collector (Windows). You don’t need to sign in to use some sample maps and try out the UI for yourself.
  2. From the list of maps, select Hydrant Inspections.

    The map opens, and since I gave the app permission to use my location, the app zooms to where I am. If you’ve played with Collector before, you might notice that there isn’t a button to create a new feature! That’s OK, in this map, our inspections are going to be associated with features already there. We won’t be creating new features.
  3. Since we aren’t creating features, we need to go to where they are. Search for Naperville, IL, and you’ll see the hydrants. Or use the bookmark for the default map extent to see them.

    Select one of the hydrants (which one doesn’t matter) and see some information about it, including its identifier, last service date, and if it is operable. We’ll pretend that is the hydrant we are inspecting.

    Since we are doing an inspection, and not doing servicing or changing anything, we don’t want to change the details (attributes) of the hydrant itself. Instead, we’ll log a report. Inspections can be important over time, so we want to allow the hydrant to have multiple such reports. At the bottom of the details, there is an Inspection section with options for View and New.
  4. Select New to add your report. A form opens, prompting you for the information you’d want to report while doing your inspection. For example, if it needs paint, or draining, you can submit that information here.
  5. For this inspection, we want to be sure to include a photo of the hydrant’s current state. Take and attach a photo using the attachments button (a camera on iOS and Windows, and a paperclip on Android).
     
  6. Submit your mock inspection.
    You are taken back to the details of the hydrant.
  7. Select View in the Inspections part of the details, and you’ll see your new inspection is associated with your hydrant. If other inspections of the same hydrant have been done, you see them as well.

 

The data

Key to the inspection workflow is how multiple inspections are all tied to a single hydrant. They can share many of the details of the hydrant, such as its identifier, location, and manufacturer. But each inspection is also important in and of itself, and the latest one shouldn’t replace the details about the one before it. To achieve this structure, the hydrants are a feature class and the inspections are a related table—since the inspections don’t have a location separate from that of the hydrants, they don’t need to be spatial. The feature class and the related table have what is known as a one-to-many relationship: one hydrant can be associated with multiple inspections. But each inspection is only associated with a single hydrant.

 

There is a solution that gets us started. Download the Hydrant Maintenance Inspection Solution, and unzip it on your computer. That solution is built for ArcMap, and instead today we’re going to use that same data but work in ArcGIS Pro. By using the data, we’ll start with a database already populated with hydrants. If doing this for your own city, you could clear those out and start by collecting your city’s fire hydrants. Here we’re going to jump right to inspecting, though.

 

  1. Open ArcGIS Pro and start a new blank project.
  2. In the Contents pane, right-click Databases and select Add Database. Browse to the database you extracted from the solution, and add it to the project.
  3. In the Catalog pane, expand the HydrantMaintenanceInspections.gdb that you just added. It has three components, and hovering over each one tells a little about it:
  4. Open the properties of the components, and explore them a bit. Here are some things we’ll be able to learn:
    • The HydrantToInspection relationship class is one-to-many.
    • Hydrants are the origin, and the inspections are the destinations.
    • A primary and foreign key are used to associate hydrants with inspections.
    Tip: To learn more about relationships and setting them up, see Relationships and ArcGIS.
  5. We want to use Collector with this data, so it needs to be available either through ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. To get it there, publish your data. We need to do the following to publish it:
    • Add the hydrants layer and the inspection table to a map in ArcGIS Pro (Add a new map and drag and drop the layer and table onto it).
    • (optional) Fix the layer’s symbology. I used “Cross 3” (double-click the existing symbol in Contents, then search for and select “Cross 3” in the Symbology pane).
    • (optional) Add an inspection date into the HydrantMaintenanceInspection table (right-click the Hydrant Maintenance Table, select Open, and add a field). It is common to want to track when inspections were done and in this blog we’ll use the date when presenting the information in Collector.
    • (optional) If you’d like to attach images during your inspection, enable attachments on the Hydrant Maintenance Inspection table (use the Enable Attachments tool).
    • Share your layer as a web layer (Go to the Share ribbon and in the Share As group select Web Layer). You’ll need to be logged in to your ArcGIS organization. Make sure you leave the Layer Type set to Feature, and in Configuration, enable editing. If you want to use your map offline, enable sync as well.
    • Publish your layer.

 

The map

Collector works with web maps. So once we have our feature class and related table available in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, we need to add them to a web map.

 

  1. In your portal (ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise portal), add the newly published layer to a new map.
  2. We don’t want inspectors to be changing the hydrants themselves, so disable editing on the hydrant features (click More Options for the layer and select Disable Editing).
  3. The hydrant features are how we’ll access our inspections. We’ll use most of the defaults for the hydrant pop-up, but we do want to configure it so that the inspections show with newest inspections first. Make sure you are configuring the pop-up for the hydrants (features), not the inspections (in the table), and use the Sort Options button at the bottom of the Configure Pop-up pane.

    If we wanted, we could further customize the pop-up in the map. Be careful: if you disable Show related data you won’t be able to add or view inspections on your hydrants.
  4. In the hydrant pop-up, the title from the inspection pop-up is used when showing the related inspections. Let’s configure the title of the inspection (table) pop-up to have some meaningful information like the inspection date and inspector.

    We could further customize this pop-up, as well. Doing so would customize the inspection form filled out in Collector.
  5. Save all the changes you’ve made.
  6. Open the map in Collector. The functionality of the map we just created matches that of the one we explored earlier in this blog.  

 

Now you've used related records to capture inspection data in Collector, and even set up the data and map yourself. We stayed connected, but you could use this same map offline as well. If your company does inspections, now you can now bring those inspection workflows into Collector.

When using Collector to do data collection in the field, there are workflows that require you to collect similar things one after the other. There are two common workflows where I see this:

  1. Collecting many things of the same type, but in different locations.
    For example, you might be walking down the street collecting all the light posts, or through a field and collecting all the orange trees that were just planted. You might be collecting all the addresses or pipe segments in a new housing development.
  2. Collecting multiple things that are all in the same place, but have different qualities. 
    For example, a pole and a transformer that is on it.

 

Whatever it is you might be collecting, you don't want to have to tap Collect new and type the same attributes each time. That is time-consuming and leaves room for human error. And you don't have to: set the Collection Style setting to Continuous and each collection you complete will initiate a new collection. You'll get to choose if attributes, location, both, or neither from your previous collection are brought into your new collection, saving you from providing the same information over and over.

 

Let's try it out. You can use any map, but for this post, I'm collecting palm trees for the City of Redlands. In a newly developed area of town, palm trees are being planted lining the road. They are the same type of tree, the same height, and planted on the same date. These fall under the first type of workflow: I have a lot of things with similar attributes, each at a different location. 

 

The new row of trees

 

  1. Open Collector, and in the Settings, set Collection Style (iOS or Android) or Collection mode (Windows) to Continuous.
  2. Open the map, choose a feature type, and provide the details about it.
    For my note, I pick California Palm, provide species information, set the planting date to today, and provide a height and diameter. I also took and attached a photo of the tree.
    The first palm tree
  3. Submit the collection, and choose what information you'd like to start your new collection with.
    Continuous collect choices
    Since I'm going to continue at the next tree, which has the same size and planting date, I picked Like the last one, at my location, copying attributes but using my new location. My new collection starts, and I can see the attribute values I provided before, along with my new location on the map. I don't see the photo I took, but that is expected and appreciated as I'll take a new photo of this tree.
  4. Update any attributes that you need to, and add any attachments.
    I take a new photo and make sure my other information is all in place.
    New tree's attributes
  5. Submit the second feature.
    I now have two trees with detailed information on my map, and Collector is prompting me for the next.

 

While this is a pretty simple example, think about all the data you have for your organization where the attributes are similar, or the geometry's shape repeats. Try out Continuous collection to get your job done faster and with less human error.

 

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Attachments and related records are not copied, as those are usually unique to the feature they were collected with.
  • If your data uses related records, this setting only applies to collecting parent feature types (for example, light poles) but not the children (for example, the lights associated with each pole). When collecting child features, you won't be prompted to start your new collection.
  • If you are recording GPS metadata for your points, and you duplicate the location (either with Like the last one or At the same location) the GPS metadata is also copied.
  • If you are recording GPS metadata for your points, and you use a new location (either with Like the last one, at my location or New feature) the GPS metadata is captured as part of capturing the new location.
  • If you are adding a feature similar to one already on your map, not similar to the one you just collected, check out Copying the feature. This gives similar options that will save you time and reduce errors.
  • Continuous collect used to be restricted in maps containing features that participated in relationships. That restriction was removed in June 2017 as part of version 17.0.1.

To explore Collector, the "Try it" maps (available before you sign in) are a great starting point. They let you jump right into the app and see what it can do. But the next question is always "How can I get my own data in the app?" Users starting on their data from scratch should take a look at the ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise templates. This blog answers their question, showing how to use the templates and, in five minutes, be out in the field with your own data in the app. It takes three steps: 

  1. Create a feature layer (tip: use templates!)
  2. Put your layer in a map
  3. Open the map in Collector and get to work 

 

First, create a feature layer

While there are multiple ways to create a feature layer, using the Feature Layer templates available in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise is a great way to quickly create a layer in your ArcGIS organization. While a variety of templates are available (and worth exploring!) in this blog you'll use the Field Notes template.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organization using either ArcGIS Online or your ArcGIS Enterprise portal. 
  2. Go to Content, and in My Content click Create and choose Feature layer to open the New Hosted Feature Layer dialog.
    Create > Feature Layer
    If you are using ArcGIS Enterprise your screen will look a bit different, but the same options are there. 
  3. Scroll to or search for the Field Notes template, and select it. Click Create in the panel.
    Create from a template
  4. For now, you just need a single point layer. Make sure Field Notes (Points) is enabled, and uncheck the other layers. Click Next.
    Select only the point layer
  5. Set the extent for your layer and click Next.
  6. Provide a title, like Field Notes. You might need to include your initials in the name to get a unique layer name. Click Done to create your layer and see its item page.

 

Second, put your layer in a map

Now that you have a layer for the data you collect, put it in a map that you'll open with Collector.

  1. Go to the item page of your layer, if you aren't already viewing it. Click the drop-down next to Open in Map Viewer and click Add to new map.
    Add to new map
  2. Because you are collecting data into the layer and will want to see it on your screen, you'll want the layer to update on the map regularly. Hover over your layer, click the More Options ellipses, hover over Refresh Interval, and provide an interval of 0.1 minutes.
    Set a refresh interval
  3. Save the map. You'll need to give it a name (like Field Notes) and tags.

 

Third, open the map in Collector and get to work

Now that you've made the layer and the map, open the app and get to work.

  1. Open Collector on your device (Android, iOS, or Windows 10). 
  2. Sign in to your organization. You'll want to use the same account that made the map, as you haven't shared it yet.
  3. Browse to the map you just made and open it.
  4. Tap Collect + (or go to the Collect new panel on a tablet) and select a type of note to start your first collection. 
  5. Your GPS will be used to add the point, or you can use the map to set a different location. Provide a name for your note, and any other information you'd like to fill out in the form. 
  6. Tap Submit (the checkmark on Android) to add your note to the layer.
  7. Go back to your web browser and look at the map you made. Within a couple seconds, you'll see your note appear on the map.

 

In three steps you've created a feature layer, made a map, and brought your data into Collector, where you can collect the data that matters to you. Although we didn't try it here, you can add attachments to your data, and even work offline. While you might need to collect field notes, there are templates that provide the data structure for a number of industry-specific projects, too. Go take a look at them, and see what data your organization could bring into their GIS. Have a suggestion for another template? Let me know!