Has anyone used Survey123 to download and open large PDF files on iPad?

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03-25-2019 10:59 AM
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New Contributor III

We have a request to use Survey123 to load large PDF documents onto iPads.

Background info: This is for a large company, with many field workers using Survey123 on iPads. The PDFs are large files called Standards, that are updated quarterly and need to be downloaded. Techs are currently taking a second device to the field to complete their work.

Request: Put the PDFs in Survey123 form media folder, and link to them from inside the form. We want two things: (1) automate downloads, and (2) collect surveys to confirm the downloads happened.

I found this post that has code for how to implement this idea (accessing PDFs from the media folder) in Android: https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2018/06/08/html-links-for-survey123-to-just-about-a...  

Does anyone know how to get this working for iPad? 

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Esri Esteemed Contributor

Hi Mikaila,

I posted in another comment at https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2018/06/08/html-links-for-survey123-to-just-about-a... - on iOS this is somewhat difficult to construct as a link as there isn't direct access to the file system.  I've taken the idea to support a link to a file in the media folder as a possible enhancement to consider in the future.

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New Contributor III

Hi James,

Thanks! My understanding is that there is no direct link to the file system in iOS/iPad, so Survey123 would need to establish that file structure as an app and share it with users. As a media player might do, for example. 

It probably sounds low priority, but getting those giant PDFs into the field is mission-critical. Loading them onto iPADs would indicate Survey123 as the program of choice, because it would eliminate the need for a second device in the field. This is a big deal operationally, in other words.

Thanks again.

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Frequent Contributor II

What about Google Drive or similar.  You can set it to Available offline and I think it will take care of syncing changes and all that for you.  You may be able to form a web or app link to launch them also.  Or just open Drive and it would be sitting right there.

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New Contributor III

That's a great idea! Unfortunately, we don't use Google solutions for these devices. We are talking about a lot of people, close to 1000 field users, so it's not something we can quickly set up either. 

Is there something similar to Google Drive, and native to apple devices? A cloud service that will make documents available offline is perfect, but it has to exist on an iPad out of the box, I'm afraid.

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Frequent Contributor II

I used to use one master Google account for 200 tablets.  So you could create a master Google account then add the files to that account.  Give all the users that master login.  Then all they have to do is install the app and login.  Does not get much easier than that.  If you have management software on them you can push that app out easily.

Sorry not an Apple guy so not sure the options there.

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New Contributor III

That's a great idea, but it won't work here. The website "drive.google.com" is a blocked site at this organization, so I can't even research the possibilities.

I am not an Apple person either, that's why I'm begging for help. 

I need to link to the local documents in the media folder from inside the form. It sounds like it's just not possible at this time, with Survey123.

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Frequent Contributor II

If your IT dept is blocking things then they probably have some management software on there. I suggest going to them with your issue.  They may be able to just push the files or have an approved app for file sharing.  My last company same thing - found out they had a corporate approved solution the whole time.  If you try to get around their policy using other methods they probably will not be too happy.  

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New Contributor III

It turns out, the people asking me to deliver these PDFs with a survey form have already tried IT. And, yes, IT absolutely does have a management solution -- but they have to lay hands on the iPads, to deliver the files. These are field devices, and it's time consuming and expensive to have widely scattered field teams bring in their devices, or to send someone out to visit them all. 

That's why they were asking me if Survey123 could deliver the PDFs. So I let them know that, no, it cannot. Not for iPads, at least.

Thanks for all the thoughts and feedback. 

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