Survey123 for ArcGIS: On its way to full productization

11-20-2015 02:59 PM
Esri Notable Contributor
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Survey123 for ArcGIS is no longer an Esri Labs project. We have transitioned Survey123 for ArcGIS into Beta. With this move, Esri commits to fully productize Survey123, adding it into the core suite of apps included with ArcGIS. This means full localization, documentation, Esri Technical Support, formal Training from Esri Educational Services as well as a Product Life Cycle statement. It also means a much tighter integration with the rest of ArcGIS including Portal for ArcGIS, other apps, content etc  All of this will happen progressively, starting today with a Beta and with a plan to release in the first half of 2016.

We have still a long way to go, but we are pleased to announce to you that Survey123 for ArcGIS is here to grow and stay, with full commitment from Esri.  Thanks to all of you that during our Esri Labs journey helped us with your feedback!

Today, we also want to look in retrospect at what we have learned during our time in the 'lab':

First, we wanted to experiment with the idea that a form-centric approach for capturing data in the field made a lot of sense, even in the context of the ArcGIS platform. Over the past few months, we have been able to validate that the majority of field data capture projects do not have a map at their heart, but forms. We have learned that building forms, just like building maps, is an art: so much to learn! The experiment turned out great, proving that Smart Forms are a great way  to capture data in ArcGIS.

In the lab we wanted to play with the idea of reversing the traditional way of building projects in ArcGIS.  The traditional way is bottom-up, where you first think about the data model, and then the map and the the app that will support it. With Survey123 for ArcGIS, you think about the questions and the logic you want to put into your app, and leave it to the software to create the data model for you. You don't need to worry about domains, subtypes, attachments or related tables. This is essentially what Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS does: it transforms your questions and logic into a survey, connected to an ArcGIS feature service, with the full support of the ArcGIS platform at the back end.  This experiment also brought good news: a whole new group of people, with little to no GIS skills were able to setup complete data collection workflows in ArcGIS.

With Survey123 for ArcGIS, we wanted to try technology that would enable us to release an app simultaneously on as many platforms as possible. So far, Survey123 is supported on smartphones and tablets (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) as well as desktop platforms (Windows, OS X and Ubuntu Linux). We achieved this by building Survey123 for ArcGIS on top of AppStudio for ArcGIS: a cross-platform development environment for building GIS applications.  AppStudio for ArcGIS has its foundation in technology from a cute company called Qt.  Without AppStudio for ArcGIS and the underlying Qt framework, we would not be here today. Such an amazing technology!

There are other lessons we have learned from our time in the 'lab'. Since our initial launch in May 2015, we have released an update every month. Some bigger than others, but always trying to resolve the issues you have been encountering. What we learned is that updating frequently and across all platforms is not just a good thing, but it is expected. Releasing often is something that we have enjoyed and want to keep doing as we move forward.

The best of our Lab journey has been the fast paced, community-driven development that happened. We want to keep that spirit. We are more excited than ever about Survey123 for ArcGIS! Take Survey123 for ArcGIS into the field, use it, give us feedback and together we will build great things.

Next update coming around December 15: OAuth support, a first cut for offline basemap support and miscellaneous fixes.

The Survey123 for ArcGIS team.

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