Live Training Seminar Question Log

10-29-2015 11:51 AM
Esri Notable Contributor
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We just finished our first Live Training Seminar on Survey123 for ArcGIS. Thanks to Garret McKinney for doing the hard work and to all of you that gave us feedback and asked questions. Since we had way more questions that we could field in the time allocated, we thought it would be a good idea to share with you a summary of the questions log. Here you go!

  • What is the difference between Collector for ArcGIS, GeoForms and Survey123 for ArcGIS? What they have in common is that they are all awesome, what sets them apart is described in this blog post.
  • Can I use Survey123 for ArcGIS against my own ArcGIS for Server? Yes, but you will need Portal for ArcGIS 10.3.1 or newer. For details, check this blog post.
  • How is Survey123 for ArcGIS licensed? Survey123 for ArcGIS is included with your ArcGIS organizational account. Use your ArcGIS account to log into the Survey123 Web Site and start building and publishing your surveys. Note that an ArcGIS Organizational Account is different than your Esri Global account. 
  • Does Survey123 for ArcGIS consume ArcGIS Online credits? Only for storage. See this site for details on storage costs in ArcGIS Online. Publishing, sharing or viewing the results of a survey does not consume any ArcGIS Online credits. We had a recent discussion about this in our Survey123 GeoNet place.
  • Can I use the Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile app without a named user account? Not at the moment, but it is in our roadmap to enable you to share your surveys publicly. This will be useful in case you want to support crowd-sourcing and citizen science projects.  We do not have a precise release date for this, but we are looking at some point in the second half of 2016.

Update: Survey123 version 1.9 introduced Public Surveys in November 2016. More info:

  • Can I share my survey with users outside my organization? Yes. Simply invite the user into a group in your organization and then share your survey with that group.
  • How is Survey123 for ArcGIS supported? Starting November 17, Survey123 for ArcGIS will become an official Esri Product. At that point Esri Technical Support will start monitoring and taking your Survey123 for ArcGIS questions in GeoNet.  Of course, you can also open incidents in Esri Technical Support over the phone or through
  • How accurate is the location captured by the Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile app? The Survey123 for ArcGIS app relies completely on your device to capture locations. If you run on old desktop operating systems like Windows 7 the app will not be able to capture locations at all. If using a modern smartphone or tablet running iOS, Android or Windows Phone, you will get locations. Well... as long as you enable location services in your device of course.
  • How can I improve the location captured by my device? If working in the field one great way to enhance the location captured by your device is to complement it with an external GNSS receiver. There is a broad range of GNSS receivers out there that can connect via Bluetooth with your own smartphone or tablet. They come quite handy when working in remote areas and some of then are quite inexpensive. While at the 2015 Esri International Conference in San Diego we had a chance to test some of these receivers with an early copy of Survey123 for ArcGIS.  Thanks to Lane Carter (Trimble), Ashok Wadwani (Applied Field Data Systems) and John Florio (Juniper Systems) for their time setting up Survey123 for ArcGIS with their respective GNSS receivers.


  • How can I use data captured with Survey123 for ArcGIS in other ArcGIS apps? Survey123 for ArcGIS works with standard ArcGIS Feature Services. For this reason, you can use any app that understands Feature Services: In ArcMap you can download your data, perform analysis, edit locally and push the data back into your feature service.  Using Collector for ArcGIS you can edit data captured from Survey123 for ArcGIS. From ArcGIS Pro you can edit directly your data and Web AppBuilder will be happy to work with Web Maps including data from Survey123.  Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS is also a great companion to Survey123 for ArcGIS.
  • How can I download Survey123 for ArcGIS data in CSV or Shapefile format? You can do that very easily from the web site. In the survey gallery, click on your survey to see the summary results and go to the map view, where you will find an option to export your data into CSV, shapefile and file geodatabase format.  Alternatively, you can go into your Portal for ArcGIS or ArcGIS Online account, look in your contents for the feature service supporting your survey and download the data into these same formats.
  • Can I work offline? Yes. Your forms will work while disconnected.  The only caveat at the moment is that if you use a GeoPoint question, the basemap will not show while disconnected. You will still be able to capture the XY coordinates, but the map will not display. We recognize that many of you want to see the map while disconnected, so we will work on adding this feature in the future.
  • Can I work with a device that does not have a data plan? Absolutely.  This is in fact a very common scenario. Simply get your device on WIFI to download the Survey123 mobile app and the forms you want to take to the field. Then go into the field and capture data. Back in the office, once you can connect again to your WIFI, submit your data. That's it.  This workflow works also well for those of you running Portal for ArcGIS behind a firewall.
  • Can I edit existing data or does this app only capture new data? At the moment, we only support capturing new data. That is, you can only use the app to ADD features, not to UPDATE or DELETE them. We will work on adding capabilities to edit existing data so you can provision your device with features before you go into the field, and then update their location or attributes while in the field.

Update: Editing functionality was introduced in version 2.0. More info:

  • What are the supported platforms? The Survey123 app used to capture data is supported in tablets and smartphones (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) as well as on your desktop (Windows, Mac and Linux). Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS, which is the desktop tool you use to author and publish your surveys into ArcGIS, is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • How do you model surveys within ArcGIS? What is really happening when a survey is published? When you publish, a  new folder is created in your ArcGIS organizational account contents. This folder is named after your survey and contains a feature service and a Form item. The feature service is used to persist data submitted from your form. The actual form, containing your questions, is modeled as a Form item.
  • Can I import existing XLSForms? Yes. Survey123 for ArcGIS allows you to take existing XLSForms and import them into ArcGIS. You will use Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS to do this. Since our implementation of XLSForms is not yet complete yet in Survey123 for ArcGIS, we created this brief document describing the aspects of the specification that are still left for us to do.  Anything highlighted in yellow is still on the works.  If you create forms and you want to share them with your colleagues, you can also simply email them the XLS (or XLSX) file and import it into Survey123 Connect for publishing.
  • Can I leverage Editor Tracking in Survey123 for ArcGIS? Yes, by default it will be enabled with all of your surveys. To learn more about this read this post.
  • Is there a limit on the number of choices to be shown in a pick list? You can add pick lists into your forms using select_one types of questions. We have tested long pick lists with thousands of choices and it technically works. However, the real problem is how to make these lists usable. Anything with over 15 or 20 values is already too much if using the pick list from a phone.    Some of you have suggested that we enable filtering on long lists, so the choices shown are determined by the string typed by the user. We are going to look into that for the future. At the moment, you should also look at Cascading Selects in case that they help.
  • Can I use non ASCII characters in my form? Do forms support Right to Left languages? Yes. You can use non ASCII characters in your form. For example, you can create forms that display questions in Japanese, Chinese, Arabic... any language.  Forms support Right To Left displays.
  • Do I need to include a geopoint question in my form? Not at all. Geopoint is one of the many types of questions you can ask. For a complete reference have a look at the XLSForm spec support in Survey123 for ArcGIS.  If you do not include any Geopoint questions we internally still add a location (SHAPE) column into the main feature service layer and we will populate it with whatever location we can get from the device running the app while the data was captured.
  • Can I control the initial extent, scale and basemap shown in my geopoint question? Yes. You can set that in the Survey123 Connect tool. Simply go to the Settings tab and then to the Map section.

We also got questions inquiring about our road map for the following features:

  • Edit existing features
  • Support for Map Tile Package files (tpks) and offline basemaps
  • Create a form from an existing feature service
  • Support for capturing polylines and polygons in addition to points
  • Support for my own basemaps in the app
  • Populate pick lists with values coming from a feature service or geodatabase domain
  • Filter choices shown in long pick lists using the user input
  • Simplify the process to overwrite surveys once published
  • Support for Survey123 forms in a web browser

We keep all of the above in our back-log and will look into implementing them over time.

On behalf of the entire Survey123 for ArcGIS team: Thanks!