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Survey123 for ArcGIS

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Some of you are interested in using Survey123 for ArcGIS against your own ArcGIS for Server, so today we will describe succinctly how you can make that happen. Survey123 can work with versions 10.4 and newer of ArcGIS for Server (now ArcGIS Enterprise).  You can also make  it work against 10.3.1, although as we will see there are  some caveats.


Survey123 for ArcGIS requires Portal for ArcGIS. Portal for ArcGIS is included with ArcGIS Enterprise and it is included at no additional cost with the Standard and Advanced editions. Typically, the Portal for ArcGIS license comes bundled with a number of ArcGIS named accounts, which you will need to publish new surveys and also to use the Survey123 field app with secured surveys.


Your Portal for ArcGIS  must be configured with a Hosted Server. Creating a Hosted Server involves a handful of steps.

  1. First you need to install ArcGIS for Server. It is strongly recommended that you put an ArcGIS Web Adaptor in front.
  2. You will also need to install the ArcGIS Data Store and register it with your ArcGIS Server instance.
  3. Once your ArcGIS for Server instance and the Data Store are coupled, you will federate your ArcGIS Server instance with your Portal for ArcGIS, and designate it as your Hosted Server.


For details on this, check the Configure a Hosting Server with your Portal help topic.


Important note to 10.3.1 users: While technically possible, it is not recommended that you run Survey123 against 10.3.1. If running Portal for ArcGIS 10.3.1, you need to follow instructions as described in this KB Article.  Also, READ CAREFULLY this KB Article too if you plan to upgrade to 10.4.   If running 10.4 or newer versions, you can skip the steps in the KB article.


Configuring ArcGIS for Server, the ArcGIS Data Store and Portal for ArcGIS is probably where you will spend most of your time. Once you have that in place, things are as follows:


Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS


When you are ready to publish your survey to ArcGIS, you need to Sign In from Survey123 Connect. As you know, by default Connect is configured to log you into ArcGIS Online, but you can click on the settings button as highlighted in the next screenshot and change the target portal.



Clicking on the settings will allow you add the URL of your own Portal for ArcGIS. Just a couple of tips:


  1. Make sure you use the https protocol.
  2. Do not forget to include the instance name of your portal. For example, below the instance name of my portal is ‘gis’, but by default the instance name is ‘arcgis’. You can really choose the instance name of your portal to be whatever you want… this is done during the installation of Portal for ArcGIS. Just make sure you get the correct instance name in this dialog.
  3. If your Portal for ArcGIS is not using a properly signed https certificate, you will want to make sure you Ignore SSL Errors before you click the Add Portal button.



To go back to the login dialog, simply click on the arrow at the top left corner and log in with your Portal for ArcGIS credentials.


At this moment, you should be able to publish your own Surveys into Portal for ArcGIS. If you publish a new survey from a sample, template or existing XLSForm, Survey123 Connect will automatically create a new feature service for your survey. This feature service will live in the ArcGIS Data Store as a Hosted Feature Service. Alternatively, you can choose to create surveys on top of existing Hosted or Federated feature services.


The Survey123 website and Portal for ArcGIS


Unfortunately, as of now we do not have instructions for you to setup your own Survey123 web site locally. However, you can configure it to work with your own Portal for ArcGIS, even if behind a firewall.


Navigate to the website, and add a portalUrl parameter (note the capitalization). For example, if a Portal is "", the following URL is used to load the Survey123 for ArcGIS website:

If you are working with a version of ArcGIS Enterprise older than 10.6, follow instructions in this KB article.

With your Survey123 website up and running against your own portal, you can publish new surveys using Survey123 Designer, access the Data and Analyze tabs, etc. If your portal cannot be reached by our ArcGIS Online services because it sits behind your firewall, then the Feature Report functionality will not work.


The Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile app


Similarly to what we did in Connect, you can easily make your app point to your own Portal for ArcGIS. In the Sign In dialog access the Settings (button in the top-right corner of the signin dialog) and type the URL of your own Portal for ArcGIS, then Sign In with your Portal for ArcGIS credentials.


Both Connect and the Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile app will remember the last portal you chose, so you will not need to go into the settings every time you want to login. You can of course, switch back into ArcGIS Online or any other portal at any time…


We have had multiple organizations successfully use Survey123 for ArcGIS against their own ArcGIS for Server. But we have also seen folks getting stuck with a few things, so here are some tips:


  • You must configure your Portal with a Hosted Server and your Hosted Server must have an ArcGIS Data Store.
  • If you used a self-signed certificate to configure your Portal for ArcGIS you are looking for trouble. Best to use a domain certificate or one issued by a trusted authority
  • When typing the URLs in Connect and Survey 123 use https and make sure you get the instance name correct and do NOT include /home at the end.
  • Some people have chosen to run Portal for ArcGIS completely behind their firewall. That is fine as long as you are conscious that your smartphone will not be able to download or submit surveys while in the field… unless you connect through VPN.
  • Survey123 Connect ALWAYS requires access to the internet in order to validate your forms. This is because our survey validation web service runs in ArcGIS Online and we have not provided you instructions to set it up in your own infrastructure yet. Remember that this does not imply that your data will be in ArcGIS Online… this just implies that when you are authoring your survey in Connect you must use an ArcGIS Online service to preview and validate your survey in Connect. This is a limitation that will disappear once we get the setup instructions for the Survey123 web site and its associated validation service in place.


Known Limitations


  • Hosted Feature Services in Portal for ArcGIS cannot have more than 500 fields per table.  For this reason, if you have a Survey with more than 500 questions you will need to logically split it using repeats, or create several surveys.
  • Public surveys are not supported in Portal for ArcGIS.
  • Surveys published against your own portal must use lower-case characters in the name of questions. This is because the ArcGIS Data Store only supports field names in lower-case.
  • You cannot publish to Portal for ArcGIS Surveys including a question of type 'end'.  'end repeats' and 'end groups' are fine, but the question 'end' will cause a publishing error. We are working on this and will try to fix.
  • You cannot publish Surveys with Cascading Selects. Also in our radar. We are hoping to get this one fixed in the International Women's Day release (March 2016). [Fixed in Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS 1.2.56]
  • If using Portal 10.3.1 you will not be able to publish surveys that: [Fixed in Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS 1.5]
    • have questions with a NAME longer than 30 characters (OK to have long Labels)
    • have a Title longer than 19 characters
    • include a repeat.
  • You should not publish to Portal for ArcGIS Surveys that include uppercase characters in the NAME column. While the Survey will publish fine, the Survey123 app will not be able to properly update attributes. We are hoping to get this one fixed in the International Women's Day release (March 2016). [Fixed in Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS 1.2.56]


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Field folks tired of typing the same thing again and again? Here are a few tips and tricks for pre-populating answers in the Survey123 app:


Defaults: Default answers for survey questions can be set in the default field of your spreadsheet when you are designing your form. This will pre-populate your survey question with the same answer every time you begin a new survey. This is especially useful when the majority of the time, the answer to your survey question will be the same. You can still edit the default answer if required, but setting the default answer could save you a lot of time and energy when filling out your surveys. Default answers can hold constants, like a string, but can also support some expressions. For example, the today() expression takes the current date.


Calculations: Calculations are similar to Defaults, but not quite the same. Unlike the Default column, which gets evaluated only when the survey is opened, calculations are evaluated every time answers in your survey change. Calculations can take advantage of existing answers in your form. For example, the expression 100 - (${Q1}+${Q2})  added in the calculation column of a question will sum the values of questions Q1 and Q2, substract that value from 100 and set that value in your question.   The user will be able to overwrite that value, but at least you got a good guess as provided by your expression.  Do not confuse Calculations (the column) with Calculates (the type): they are related, but are not the same thing!

Favorites: After you have entered answers into the Survey123 app, you are able to save these answers to be used in subsequent surveys by setting your favorite answers. Using the favorites menu in the top-left corner, you can use the current state of your survey to set as favorite answers. This could include every answer to the survey, or only one or two key pieces of information (e.g., street name).


Once you have set your favorite answers, you can insert them into new surveys by opening the the favorites menu and selecting Paste answers from favorite. This will enter your favorite answers into your new survey.


If at any time you need to change your favorite answers, simply enter them into your current survey and select Set as favorite answers. Any time in the field, when you find yourself entering repetitive information, you can easily use your current answers to pre-populate subsequent surveys. The survey that has been used to set your favorite answers will be marked with a star.


Copy a survey from the Sent Folder: By tapping on a survey from the Sent folder, you can choose to create a copy of the survey to submit a new entry or open the survey to make changes in it.



We hope this will make it faster and easier for folks in the field to get their job done!