5 Minutes to Your First Collector Map

10-03-2017 01:38 PM
by Esri Regular Contributor
Esri Regular Contributor
7 4 5,388

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!

New Contributor

I did this and was successful.  Then I added a shapefile, and though I can view that shapefile online it does not show up on the arc collector app.  How can I make other shapefiles editable and viewable on collector?

by Esri Regular Contributor
Esri Regular Contributor

Hi Rebecca! If you take your shapefile and add it as a layer to your map (following steps like this) then your layer is part of the map, and isn't editable in ArcGIS Online (and so isn't editable in Collector). Instead, what you'll need to do is publish your shapefile as a hosted feature layer.

New Contributor

Thanks! That was the issue.  Now, can you tell me, if there are a layers I already have on arcgis online is there a way to convert them to a hosted feature layer without having to individually re-add every single one again as the different type?  

by Esri Regular Contributor
Esri Regular Contributor

You can do the following:

  1. Open the map that you uploaded the shapefile into.
  2. From the "More Options" (ellipsis) menu for the layer based on the shapefile, click "Save Layer" to create a layer item for the shapefile. Your layer will have a feature collection as the source, since that is what the data stored right in the map is.
  3. From the "More Options" (ellipsis) menu for the layer based on the shapefile (the same place you used to save the layer), click "Show Item Details".
  4. On the item page, click "Publish" to create a hosted feature layer of the data.
  5. In the settings of the newly published hosted feature layer, you can enable editing. 
  6. Add this hosted feature layer to a map, and that is the map you can use in Collector.

(You can read about going from a feature collection to a hosted feature layer here: https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/manage-data/publish-features.htm#ESRI_SECTION1_2ABC815CC7E64...)

About the Author
I want to bring GIS to every K-12 classroom and every child. A long-time Esri employee, I've previously worked on Esri's mobile apps, focused on documentation and best practices. Out of the office I'm a runner often found on the trails or chasing my children.