Enable freehand polygon drawing

03-19-2021 12:25 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor III

It would be very useful to be able to draw polygons freehand (like you can in ArcGIS Pro), instead of by adding individual vertices. This would be especially useful when creating polygons that are rounded and require many vertices to properly draw. 


Great idea!!!


Please add freehand line drawing too!! I'm working with folks that are converting from ArcPad to Field Maps and they could draw freehand lines in ArcPad and now I have to tell them you need to add vertex by vertex in technology 16 years later. The users have apple pencils is there any additional functionality they can use now with the apple pencil and current Field Maps line drawing?


Also isn't GeoTrace and geoshape available in Survey123 the form app that would allow the freehand drawing for lines and polygons? Why isn't this available in Field Maps?

Thanks for your consideration! I have folks excited to use the new apps and then have to break the bad news on limited functionality compared to what they have set up in ArcPad.



Related to this, Classic Collector for Android had a much easier method for adding each vertex than the target circle system used in the iphone version. My team used iphones mostly, so they relied on me to enter polygons on my Android phone because it was so much quicker and easier.

Now the new Collector version and the Field Maps changed to the target method for Android phones. Much more time-consuming and clunky to use. Please go back to the simple touch to add or drag a point method that was used earlier.



This is the main reason why I still have to use ArcPad 10. Freehand polygon data capture is integral to conducting forest health aerial surveys. Capturing areas of defoliation or tree mortality, one vertice at a time, is a ridiculous notion. Am I missing something? Are there any ESRI field apps that have this functionality anymore, plus work offline in remote areas?


We are an ecological consultancy where a significant part of our workflows involve digitising detailed vegetation polygons based on a combination of field observation and high resolution aerial imagery. Our botanists usually digitise the polygons in the field using Collector, but all of them have reported this is slower and more cumbersome using the point on target method in Field Maps.

As fieldwork usually needs to be completed within tight timeframes, any loss of productivity in the field has significant knock on effects. We also do rapid field collection of individual flora and fauna observations. It is much more important for our field staff to be able to make a quick estimation of the location by touching on a map than to get a precise location as often hundreds of observations are made in a day.

While the Collector Classic method of capturing polygons is preferable to the Field Maps method, it is not ideal as features that should have coincident boundaries need to have overlaps and gaps tidied up and rough edges smoothed out post fieldwork. This is a time consuming process for our GIS staff.

Having the ability to freehand draw polygons like the markup in Field Maps using a stylus but with the auto-complete function available in the webapp builder edit widget to capture geometry into polygon layers would be ideal for us. It'd also be useful to have the ability to switch between the different methods of capture.

We exclusively use Android tablets for data capture. We are in the process of updating the majority of our devices to the Samsung Galaxy SM-P610 model.

It would be really helpful if some information could be provided on esri's current thinking on this, if similar changes have been considered for future Field Maps updated and a rough estimate of timeframes if they are.


Dear ESRI,

I work for a nonprofit striving to amp up the pace and scale of forest restoration by modernizing and introducing technological efficiencies.  Much of my job entails digitally marking (drawing polygons) groups of trees on multiple landscape-scale projects (2000+ acres). Other responsibilities include training operators and working with USFS personnel and other partners to encourage the adoption of tablets which are generally a more cost effective, flexible and improved system to the more traditional ways of prepping and marking timber sales (painting trees).  What Field Maps has done with this new circle-target polygon feature has essentially turned my job and a major conservation mission of our organization, from a reasonable challenge into a nightmare.  It is not an embellishment to say that Field Maps (and ArcGIS Collector for that matter) are a hinderance to our conservation progress.  Could you please rectify this feature on Field Maps and return to Collector Classic's simple, streamlined, and commonsensical polygon attribute functionality? 

I will never need to be prompted to "Start Averaging [GPS points]" because I draw polygons over a canopy height model layer and do not depend on my GPS location. Collector Classic had it right with a simple one touch and done to add/delete vertices.  Also, with Field Maps, moving the map to line up with the target is like moving the paper to find the pencil.  How does that make sense? 

One more redundant point - imagine trying to convince individuals (luddites in fact) who have worked in forestry for 30+ years and have just learned to embrace smart phones/tablet technology that Field Maps is an improvement to Collector Classic.  There are improvements indeed, but drawing polygons nullifies the usefulness of this field app. Everything mentioned in the comments above are on point.  Thank you for being receptive to feedback.  Please do the right thing.


This is a very good idea. We map soil and soil drainage and it is easy to draw the layers in with markup rather than adding individual vertices, but it would be nice to be able to just draw it in on the feature layer.


I believe that the thinking here is that "heads up" digitizing is best done at a desktop computer and data gathered in the field is mostly streamed with minor manual corrections where streaming is an issue.

I don't see anyone from ESRI weighing in on this yet, but I imagine that's the thought process.  For some users, especially beginning users (which are the largest market for the FieldMaps team to target), it can be extremely difficult to untangle a crossed polygon mess.  The two handed method in field maps is awkward, yes, but its almost fool proof.  

More options would be better, and with the Fieldmaps team's approach of allowing designers to toggle new and experimental settings in the back end with the FieldMaps Desktop App, I think that the team would be receptive to adding a snapping enabled one touch option like people are describing from Collector Classic.

The idea I am not sure about though is the freehand drawing conversion to polygon.  This sort of thing works well in ArcPro because you can toggle between free hand, creating arcs, and tracing.  On top of that, its easy to enable and disable snapping in a multitude of ways in ArcPro.  When you start to build this kind of complexity into Fieldmaps, it may become overwhelming for beginning users.  That said, my organization would use a free hand feature.

Here is my use case:

Field: Natural Resources and Prescribed Fire

Workflow 1: digitizing vegetation types in the field using a combination of air photos (where distinctions can easily be seen eg grassland next to evergreen forest) and streaming (where two veg types look similar on air photo eg tanoak/madrone forest next to douglas fir/madrone forest)

Workflow 2: drawing polygons for prescribed fire behavior during burns.  For obvious reasons (1. fires hot to walk around and 2. Streaming is too time consuming for fast moving fires) sometimes you want to manually draw in the areas.  Doing this one dot at a time currently is slow and distracts from the work.

Workflow 3: Digitizing roads.  This is similar to workflow 1.  Some roads need to be streamed as they are not visible from an air photo, but for those that are visible, it saves time to digitize them off an air photo in the field.  Current one dot method is adequate for this, but slow.

Thanks for considering my use case,



Agreed.  Being able to tap and add a vertex, or tap and move a vertex directly like in Collector is a much easier workflow and not having that flexibility in Field maps slows down the process.


@Anonymous User,


Can you weigh in on this idea and if its on the Field Map road map? I keep thinking Field Maps is the map app but yet it is missing some key functionality with freehand delineation of lines/polygon.  Currently Survey123 with geotrace and geoshape have the freehand line/polygon capabilities, earlier versions of Collector, and ArcPad, but not Field Maps??? There is mark-up but this isn't quite the functionality for a saved feature layer. This would make such a difference in our department's use of the app for aerial surveys compared to the current functionality of Field Maps.

Thank-you for the inside scoop.