Collector for ArcGIS AppStudio Edition. Who's in?

02-26-2016 04:52 PM
Regular Contributor

Where I work, we love Collector. We love it, and we hate it. Specifically, we love what it can already do and we love how it does the vast majority of it. Like any customer though, there are things we hate about it and most of that is related to our own selfish needs and desires for the application to conform to our specific workflows.

Now, it would be unrealistic of us to expect Esri to change the Collector for ArcGIS application based on the needs of a single customer. We know this because we've asked them several times to make changes to the application and Esri responded that it is unrealistic of us to expect Esri to change the Collector for ArcGIS application based on the needs of a single customer.

We actually totally understand that and agree. That is unrealistic. Esri has tens of thousands of not hundreds of thousands of customers from every industry imaginable and Collector strives to serve them all. Every single change has to be very carefully thought out and must be implemented in very broad ways so as to support the maximum number of workflows. We get it.

So, we asked them for the source code so we could change it ourselves and deploy it internally. We didn't really see anything wrong with that.

  • Esri is not monetizing the application.
  • The Collector4ArcGIS team admitted at the 2014 DevSummit that it was built using Esri's SDKs and there was no black magic or special voodoo code-tricks going on in the app to make it work.
  • Since it's built using the Esri Runtime SDKs, we would still need to leverage Esri products on the backend to support it so we couldn't (and wouldn't want to) undermine their business model - ie. we'd still need an ArcGIS Server and Portal along with many other pieces of the puzzle running on the backend and that's where the money supporting Collector is made anyway.

Releasing the source code for Collector is something that would allow companies like mine to simply make the desired changes on our own and deploy it internally as an Enterprise App.

Esri however, kindly declined this request and didn't specify a reason for declining. Of course, that's their right. They did develop it and they can do with it as they please.

So, given that Esri

  1. Won't release the source code for Collector
  2. Cannot implement meaningful changes for each and every organization/customer
  3. Decided not to support Windows 7 with the Collector for Windows app - even though Windows 7 still commands the vast majority of market share for the Enterprise OS market

I'd like to know if any of you GeoNerds out there want to band together and work with me on creating an AppStudio Template as that gets as close as we can possibly get to Collector, which can be compiled for any platform and the source code of the template will be completely open and freely available.

Who's in? Feel free to chime in here as well Esri folks. Maybe you've got some plans in the works that would give us pause?

8 Replies
New Contributor II

Hi John,

Sounds like a great idea. You just have to convince the Collector team to start using AppStudio to write it

Regular Contributor

Thanks Gareth!

I don't think the Collector team would do it. It would be easier for them to just release the iOS and Android source code than rewrite the entire application in AppStudio. Also, since those guys are Obj-C+Swift and Java developers, they probably also would not have the skill set needed to do it in AppStudio - though I'm sure they could spin up on it relatively quickly.

It's funny, at the DevSummit I was in an AppStudio session and Sathya Prasad from the AppStudio dev team asked the audience what we wanted to use it for. I mentioned this and he excitedly responded that it was a great use case and specifically mentioned that doing so would allow people to customize the application. I asked him if he wanted to help with the project and his response was a less than enthusiastic "maybe". A shame, I thought. I'm sure the AppStudio Dev Team could really help with this to make sure that we're using the best workflows and practices.

Maybe if I tag AppStudio for ArcGIS, Hannah Ferrier​, Marika Vertzonis​, Gareth Walters​, Stephen Quan​ and Lucas Danzinger on this post we'll get some sort of quazi-official response. At the very least, I'd be interested to know if Esri's Qt and AppStudio folks think this project would be better suited for a straight-up ArcGIS Runtime for Qt implementation, using some C++ to do the heavy lifting or if they feel that AppStudio framework could keep up with the load. They would know more about that than I would.

I'll be creating a GitProject for this effort in the next few days and will post the Repo link. It's admittedly going to be a big effort and will take a while to complete, but the more people we can get involved, the better chance of success we'll actually have.

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Esri Contributor

Hi John

Did you see we've released the source code to Survey123? ...

Regular Contributor

I did see that Elvin! It looks like a decent starting point. I also saw several samples in AppStudio that would be useful. The Attribute Table sample appears almost identical to the attribute table displayed in the iPhone version of Collector, so I'll definitely be using that.

Occasional Contributor II

Any updates on this? I‘d like to deploy a Collector map as a stand alone app that people can download directly, without having to install collector, look for my app etc... The quick report template is not exactly what I am looking for...

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Regular Contributor

I'd like to resurrect this discussion as well; any updates on this?!

New Contributor II

Any updates here and how can we contribute to this GitProject? Why so silent here?

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New Contributor

Any Updates on this?

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