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Add Support for In App Writing Using Collector for ArcGIS and iPad Pro

11-06-2015 03:42 PM
Status: Open
Occasional Contributor II

Have you ever wanted to include a comment field in a feture class, but cringed at the thought of having to type out something wordy one letter at a time. Sometimes, a text field that requires writing by tapping one letter a time can frustrate the techiest among us, not to mention more unfamiliar users, say your parents. Instead, wouldn't it be really useful to convert our comment or note fields to a writable document that can be viewed as an attachment, like how pictures and other documents are created as attachments in ArcGIS? In case no one has noticed, comments fields are notoriously horrible to use for quering or performing other database tasks on that making them an attachment would be just as useful, but being able to write them instead of tap them in would be hugely efficient. With Windows, Android, and now iOS offering a stylus to accompany their latest releases of tablets and 2 in 1's, it would make sense for ESRI to start making that leap as well.

Consider this, a middle aged building inspector has been handed a tablet to do a building inspection using Collector for ArcGIS. For the past 20 years he has been using carbon copy forms, on which he is able to freely jot down notes using pen and paper so that the contractor can undestand what it will take to pass inspection. With the tablet approach we are asking him to perform those same job functions, only now, instead of being able to quickly write down the reasons why the contractor has failed the inspection, he is forced to patiently type out three paragraphs one letter at a time. Oh, it looks like I forgot to mention our middle aged building inspector is not that patient.

Here's an idea, how about we create a mobile mapping application that gives him the flexibility to use drop down menus where they make sense, take pictures of problem areas at the job site, and quickly and easily jot down further instructions or comments pertaining to the building inspection. In this scenario, we are still completely digital, and since we are working with web services the information can be shared with anyone simply by sharing a link and providing a permit number, but best yet, our building inspector hasn't radically had to change the way he performs his work. As a matter of fact, he is a much happier person because he no longer has to babysit a stockpile of file folders, keep track of scheduled building inspections, plan out routes to get to those building inspections, upload pictures to his office computer from those inspections, or scan all the documents that continually grow over the course of those inspections. In this case, the key to being happy is the ability to use in app writing with Collector. Without it, you have the old paper based way of doing things vs. some poor old guy frustrated that what used to take him mere seconds now has to be painstakingly entered in, one letter at a time.

I should have titled this, "Add support for In App Digital Handwriting Using Collector for ArcGIS and iPad Pro"
Apple has just released a 9.7inch screen iPad Pro! Are there any plans to design support for Apple Pencil for use with Collector?

Please, please add this functionality to Collector ESRI and while you're at it, add it to the the new Work Order App. This is crucial to getting the field guys to adopt our GIS. Without this, we will struggle tremendously to get them to use it.


We are using the Collector App quite extensively to collect information out in the field for Property Valuations. We have quite a few older valuers who would much prefer to write on the map. How do we elevate this request because we believe it has huge potential.


Hi Mark, 

Probably the best way to get this idea elevated would be to share this within your GIS network, and get others to vote it up.


Thank you for that I will get some of our team to log on and vote for it


Hi All,

Have there been any updates on this front? I am looking to use a pen with my Ipad for field notes in collector as well.