Survey123 'username' field is <Null>

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01-08-2019 03:06 PM
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Occasional Contributor

I have published a Survey123 with a field of type 'username' by which I was hoping to capture the ArcGIS Online user name of the account being used to submit the survey.  Unfortunately, this is not working reliably.  While most of the records in the feature service are submitted with the username as expected, a substantial number of them are submitted with <Null> (no value).

We are using Survey123 version 2.8.2 on iOS (and cannot upgrade any further for now due to our old iPads not being able to run a recent version of iOS), with ArcGIS Online as a proxy to a feature service on our local ArcGIS Server (not Portal), so that we can capture the data into our local SDE enterprise geodatabase.

In my limited testing, the <NULL> values are recorded when users are signed out (in Survey123) at the time they capture the survey data.  Signing back in (in Survey123) to submit the data does not capture the username.

NB:  The users are not deliberately signing out.  They just get signed out by the system from time to time, without realising it.

My preference would be to be able to use the editor tracking fields for this (create user, last edit user), but in this case, the feature service is hosted on a local ArcGIS Server, not ArcGIS Online, and Survey123 submits to it via an ArcGIS Online proxy, because it cannot authenticate to our ArcGIS Server directly.  So the create/edit user is always recorded as that of the saved credentials for this proxy feature service in ArcGIS Online.

Is there any reliable way to capture the username in this scenario?

UPDATE -  I have just found these related topics:

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Hi there,

The issue you are encountering with null username values is due to the fact that if there is no signed in user when the survey form is loaded for a new collect, the username name field will be null as there is no user signed in to retrieve the value from. The username field gets populated when the survey first loads, therefore for this field to be updated successfully a valid user needs to be signed in at the time the check for a username value is done.

Whilst you are using an old version of the app, this same behaviour will still exists in the current version of the app.

Regards,

Phil.

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Occasional Contributor

Thanks.  That's what I expected.

So my original question still remains...

Is there any reliable way to capture the username in this scenario?

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Esri Frequent Contributor

No, it is not possible using the username type question, you will need to have a manual process to update username field in database based on the created by system field which will reflect who submitted the survey. In the app there needs to be a signed in user when the survey is loaded for username to be updated. As mentioned in the other posts you have been posting regarding the same subject, with the latest beta build and soon to be released 3.2 version of the app the user will remain signed in even when offline which will resolve this problem, although you will need to upgrade to 3.2 to get them improved functionality.

Phil.

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Occasional Contributor

Thanks Phil.  Unfortunately, the created by system field (editor tracking) is no good for us.  As explained earlier, this survey submits data via an ArcGIS Online feature service proxy using saved credentials for the actual ArcGIS Server feature service.  So all the same username gets logged for every survey in the editor tracking fields.

We are stuck on version 2.8.2 for a while yet, due to our iPads being to old to upgrade any further.  But I'll keep trying to persuade management here that we need to upgrade in order to overcome some deficiencies in our current service.

Cheers,

Nik.

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New Contributor II

Hi Philip,

our customer have same issue. 

Regarding the improvement of the login status, to avoid losing "username" even offline, can you confirm that Survey123 Field App ver 3.2 solved the issue?

I don't see anything about this in the "what's new" section of website at 3.2 or 3.3, and we are still exepriencing the issue.

Do you have a workflow to test if this functionality has been implemented?

Thanks

Alessandro

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Hi Alessandro,

The What's New in the Survey123 doc pages includes new features and note worthy bugs or enhancements, but does not list every bug fix and change made with each release. The statement "various bug fixes and improvements" covers this. If we listed everyone it would be 100 items long. What's new in Survey123—Survey123 for ArcGIS | ArcGIS 

In the release blog posts we go into more detail and list every support case bug fixed and enhancement implemented. You can see this for 3.2 and 3.3 here: https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2019/02/01/national-weatherpersons-day-release-32  and https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2019/02/26/new-britain-release-33. You will see some of the bugs listed related to IWA and user sign out issues.

Maybe it is better to understand the way it is suppose to work. What type of devices and OS versions are you using?

When you sign in successfully you get an expiry token from the authenticating server if using IWA or ADFS, and as you are not on a Windows device (which IWA and ADFS are developed for) it can not automatically continue to renew your login based on the device sign in credentials. In Survey123, the app will cache you sign in details and use them when the device is offline or has no access to the authenticating server to display the signed in user in the app, therefore while the app is open you should still see the user signed in and the "username" can be used in the surveys fields.

However, the token that the server provided may expire during this time (depending on the server settings and length of expiry), meaning the user must login in again with valid credentials to obtain a new expiry token, this will happen when online and trying to use a feature that needs to request information from the server (download surveys, submit surveys etc). 

Hope this helps, please keep in mind there are cases where users will always have to sign in again using IWA or AFDS due to token expiry, this is expected.

Phil.

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New Contributor II

Hi Philip,

thank you for this complete answer.

Customers are using Android / iOS App with id@ account (not built in).

Using previous version (<3.2) we decided to set the property(‘username’) field as required.

A logged out user that was filling the form and realizing that a “required” username was missing, had to:

  • set the form in Draft

  • go to App Settings to perform Login

  • come back to that specific Draft form where he faced the issue: the field stored as null was reloaded with null value

  • in case of editable field, he had the chance do modify it refreshing the field (reload icon)

  • in case of read only field, he had no chance to modify it: only way out was survey deletion.

I guess that the previous scenario (in particular the second point) can’t happen anymore, now that the field is always filled in with last username, can you confirm this?

Thanks again,

Alessandro

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Hi Alessandro,

What you are seeing is the expected behaviour in the field app. Read only questions can not be refreshed if the calculation changes (no refresh button is displayed) and this is expected as the question is set to read only, meaning it can not be changed by the user. This applies to new Collect, Drafts, Sent and Inbox surveys if survey is opened again and had a previous value or null value. Therefore applying required to read only questions can be problematic if you expect the calculation to change and be updated.

The workaround to the above is to not make that username field read only, that way the user can refresh the calculation if it changes, and you can keep it required, so that when the user signs in before sending, after collecting data offline and saving to drafts, they can open the survey from drafts, refresh the username calculation, and then submit.

Note the property() function, including property('username') is no longer supported in the field app and has been removed from the documentation, as it is not supported in the web app. The property() function may continue to work in the field app however, but there may be some known limitations and it could eventually stop working with updates to the field app in the future, so beware using it.

The other option to capture the current signed in username is using the username question type. This question type does the same function as the property('username'), it is supported in both field app and web app, and is hidden on the form by default. However, the downside of it being hidden always is the question can not be refreshed manually as it is not visible for user interaction. Also, the same problem you have encountered above also occurs with username question type when a user is offline. If you are offline when first open the survey and not signed in, this field will be populated with null, and then never gets updated again. A bug has been raised for this and we have an internal issue to track and try to improve this behaviour so that it can be automatically update when null. The public bug number is BUG-000113164 and I have also updated the internal issue with your comments and use case.

Hope this helps.

Phil.

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New Contributor II

Hi Philip,

yes it helped me to understand that I misunderstood the bug fix introduced by 3.2 version. There are a few case still unhandled.

At this point:

  • any already downloaded survey can be accessed by a logged out user, introducing the null username value issue
  • last logged username is not limitless stored , it gets cleared in some point in time (mainly by user log-out)

In my opinion, one of the 2 functionality needs to be changed.

For example, Survey123 Field App could stop user from accessing survey list (gridview page), if a user explicitly/manually logged out. This, in order to always have a fresh or cached username available, at survey form opening. Could that be a solution?

I also wasn't aware of the documentation change about property('username') (link), thank you for the insight !

This goes against the backward compatibility of many customers production forms.

Is this a taken decision? In this case any idea about the release version in which forms using property will stop working?

Anyway, if the username question type (not refreshable in case of "Draft" Null issue) will be the only way left, workflows based on username will be hard to use in the future. Maybe an "autorefresh" feature on that question type, could be a solution.

What do you think?

Alessandro

 

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