Hyperlinking PDFs to features

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02-28-2014 11:31 AM
BradBolton
New Contributor III
Hi,

Hopefully someone can chime in with some ideas or things they may have done...

I am trying to come up with a solution for our county assessors to take a tablet (Ipad or Android) and view GIS data while being disconnected/offline. Particularly, I would like use the built in GPS to display on my map, view parcels, select a parcel, have a table show up with different fields of information, with one of those being a hyperlink to a PDF, that is located on the mobile device. They would then write notes on that PDF and save a copy to the device, which could then be viewed on their desktop back at the office.

I am a newbie when it comes to working with ArcGIS Online and mobile devices/apps, so please excuse my lack of understanding, if this is not possible.

Appreciate the help.

Thanks,
Brad
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7 Replies
KeithAubin
New Contributor III
Collector can't do this yet.. Perhaps when the new update lands.

However I was able to do what you are looking to do by exporting the GIS data to a KMZ. Included in the GIS data was a field that contained hyperlinks to local PDF files on the Android table. Field users where then able to use Nexus 7 tablets with Google Earth to view the GIS data and click on points to view the attributes. They then could click the hyperlink in the attribute table to open the corresponding PDF file that goes with that record. Once the PDF was opened they were able to fill out the highly customized PDF form. Using a simple linear form would have been too cumbersome and the customized PDF made the job MUCH easier. Pictures were taken and embedded in the PDF too. I then used google Drive to sync everything back to the office in real time (when there was cell coverage). Not the most ideal offline solution, but it got the job done. And it worked well offline too. Once the PDF's made it back to the office a python script was used to pull the data from ~50 fields in each PDF and push it into our GIS database. Thousands of detailed utility poles surveys were completed this way.

If you need help setting something like that up I can give you some pointers. For example the local hyper links have to be formated correctly to work in Google Earth. Something along the lines as this "\\mnt\sdcard\Documents\PDF\File123.PDF". When Collector supports offline use this hyperlink local PDF method should work on that too.

EZPDF Reader was the PDF editing app that I found worked well for this task on Android. Adobe's app gave me issues.

AirDroid was a good app to remotely manage the tablets when the field users ran into issues.

Good Luck!
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PaulLohr
Regular Contributor
vmod32,

Does Collector for iOS not support custom URL schemes?

bbrad24,
If it does, here are a few ideas. With iOS, I would try one of the PDF annotation programs. Make sure the PDF annotation program has its own custom URL scheme. Put your PDF files in the application's sandbox area (using iTunes). Setup an attribute in your layer to store the URL, input the URLs somehow (for example, pdfedit:\\documentName.pdf). If Collector supports custom URLs, the user can tap the link then the PDF should open in whatever PDF annotation program you have.

Somewhat of a wild guess.
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BradBolton
New Contributor III
Thanks for the replies, some very good info.

vmod, how well did google earth work for you when offline? Did you have to download the areas you were working, before going out in the field each day? Was the imagery cached at all zoom levels? I plan on testing this out when the weather gets a bit warmer here.

Again, thanks for all the info and help.
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KeithAubin
New Contributor III
Thanks for the replies, some very good info.

vmod, how well did google earth work for you when offline? Did you have to download the areas you were working, before going out in the field each day? Was the imagery cached at all zoom levels? I plan on testing this out when the weather gets a bit warmer here.

Again, thanks for all the info and help.


Well the Nexus tables we were using had Cellular radios. So they were able to download imagery on the fly for the most part. Occasionally the crews were in areas with bad reception. To cope with that all you have to do is before you head out to the field is browse around the area you intend to visit and it will cache the imagery before you go. I had a program to automate this for the PC version of Google Earth, but I don't have a solution for Android. But unless you are doing a massive area it should not be a problem. Just browse around the area at the closest zoom level and then a mid height zoom level and you should be OK. Even if you have poor imagery you can still see your position relative to the data in your loaded KMZ. For what we were doing the imagery was not critical anyways. The field crews just had to know which utility pole they were near and be able to click on it to pull up the corresponding PDF for the survey.

Oh to load a KMZ in Google Earth on Android, just use a file explorer and browse to the KMZ and click on it. It will launch Google Earth and load the KMZ. As far as I know this is the only way to get Google Earth to load a KMZ since there are no options in the app itself. This is a bit more difficult on iOS since Apple does their best to hide access the file system, I guess they feel their users can't handle such things. I believe there is an app you can download to let you load KMZ's in Google Earth for iOS.

But now that collector 10.2.2 is out with offline capabilities I'm hoping to use it for future survey work rather than Google Earth. I'll have to put it through it's paces first. Hopefully I can hyperlink to local PDF's the same way or if I can make a good enough form in collector to cut out the PDF's entirely.
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BradBolton
New Contributor III
Have you had a chance to play around with 10.2.2 yet? I just downloaded a copy of a map to test for offline use, but it's snowing like crazy today, so hopefully tomorrow I can test that out.

I have a field in my parcels attribute table that has path names like: \\mnt\sdcard\ArcGIS_Collector\Assessor\48041.pdf. However, it is not shown in a blue hyperlink format. Any suggestions? *I created the Assessor folder. I also tried placing the pdfs in the ArcGIS_Collector folder and trying the different path, but no luck.

Can anyone confirm if it is possible to use hyperlinked PDFs (stored locally on device), in the Collector app?

Thanks!
Brad
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BradBolton
New Contributor III
Hi Everyone,

After trial and error, I needed higher information.

I emailed Bern Szukalski to ask about the possibility of using locally stored pdfs, on a mobile device, and having features in the map hyperlinked to them, through the attribute table/info popup. (For offline use)

from Bern:

I am not sure this is possible, I actually don�??t believe it is yet.

If anyone does find a way to accomplish this, please post here as it would be very helpful.

Thanks,
Brad
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BradBolton
New Contributor III

It looks like hyperlinks will work with Collector on iPads now. Since the latest update, using the GoodReader app, our crews have been able to utilize the hyperlinks that they could only use through the Explorer for ArcGIS app.

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