Below is a list of reasons why the web-browser version of the Survey123 form is not ready for use by my organization.
Several of these issues are recognized in other posts (and I try to provide URL where I have found them) but it is only after I run into a problem and have tried to extensively troubleshoot, do I find an answer like "oh we know about that and it doesn't work yet". So this is my attempt to provide a S123 form developer with a list of issues, so that some of those people can avoid going down the same rabbit holes.
To be clear, I think Survey123 is a great product (or will be sometime in the future) but until some of these more important items get addressed, I am unable to expand its use from a limited audience of tech-savvy staff (for field data collection) to using the app for a large audience of citizen scientists that have a range of technical skills, and need to interact with either the app version or the browser version seamlessly.
Also, note that my workflow is using a Hosted Feature Service (HFS) (either published directly in S123 Connect or from a Feature Class), using Survey123 Connect (not the web designer) and trying to use the same form in both a web-browser and as a mobile app.
Finally, understand that while I have tried my utmost to get some issues resolved, I may have missed a key step or hidden workaround that would have fixed the problem. Please feel free to correct any misperceptions I have about a particular issue.
- Anonymous collection that allows attachments while preventing users from viewing/querying existing data: Doesn’t work! https://community.esri.com/thread/205476-cannot-attach-images-in-public-survey This is a huge problem for crowd-sourcing data collection while hiding the sensitive data that is being collected, private from everyone even the person who submitted the observation in the first place.
- Date fields: Dates with leading zeros (in both months and days) is a problem for Safari and IE browsers. My limited testing indicated that it throws and error (when field is required) saying that you haven’t filled out a required field when entering a date of for example “Jan 1, 2018”. If I switch back to a ‘good’ date (e.g. 12/31/2017) then it will work. https://community.esri.com/thread/206546-date-error-survey123-desktop (remains an issue as of Dec 18, 2017)
- ‘Property’ function doesn’t work when trying to get username, email or deviceid. If assuming your form will only be used in web browser, then I would just not include these calculations in my form. But if we want to provide the same form to both app and web versions, my preference would be that it would just ignore and not include the info (if not relevant or available) rather than failing with an error message.
- ‘PullData’ function can’t be used to populate lat-long or get spatial accuracy from device. https://community.esri.com/thread/194104-does-pulldata-function-work-against-geopoint-questions-in-survey123-web-appweb-client ((remains an issue as of May 17, 2017). I fully accept that a browser might not be able to do all the things an app version can do but, as with the ‘property’ function, if it doesn’t work then it should just ignore a particular calculation rather than throwing an error message to the end user. This particularly important when you provide a link to your form (even with the =native option in the URL) and, if the user is on a desktop PC, they are presented with options of either opening in a browser or downloading to an app. Which one will a naïve user choose every time? The browser version.
- Some indication that this does work but maybe not for certain browsers?: https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2016/06/08/calculations-on-geopoints and https://community.esri.com/message/688052-re-ie-browser-compatability-and-geopoint-calculation-with-public-surveys-made-in-connect?commentID=688052#comment-688052
- ‘PullData’ function on csv file (e.g. species list in in media folder) fails in IE 11 only (the same file works in Chrome and Firefox). It might have to do with either colons or hyphens (and certainly will fail with commas) but I can’t find the post on this. One other post that is somewhat related: https://community.esri.com/thread/206786-unsure-about-this-error-message
- Null values for integer fields (e.g. optional field not populated by observer) get converted to zeros in record results in HFS. This is inconsistent with app behavior which does now create nulls instead of zeros (updated sometime in 2017)
- FormStart and FormEnd doesn’t work properly: If I include both, when looking at record results, the end date gets set to 8 hours prior to the start time while the start time shows correctly. I can’t remember which is shown as PST and which is shown as UTC but the problem is that they are not consistent with each other.
- ‘Select location’ functionality is different (so different instructions needed) and the accuracy field below the map shows a little oddly.
- Map extent defaults to globe even though extents were set in S123 connect and on HFL settings
- ESRI InputMask (e.g. adding a “-“ in between parts of a phone number) is a problem in web browser. I don’t remember exactly what the issue was but think it’s expecting the field to be filled out even if it’s optional and will throw a ‘required’ error message on submission.
- Basemap option in S123 Connect not honored: Always shows as world street maps. https://community.esri.com/thread/202050-issues-with-web-browser-only-survey (remains an issue as of Sep 19, 2017)
Other related issues that are not specific to Survey123 web form but important to consider
- Nested repeats: Are supported within a HFS and as of Dec 2017, I believe they are supported in S123 web form, however, AGOL makes it difficult to manage data or update schema in repeats (i.e. related tables) let alone nested repeats. This is not a problem with Survey123 specifically but is a problem when you try to use S123 data as part of the larger AGOL system for data management.
- IE 11 is missing map controls (I think this is related to the Font Awesome issue and may be specific to our organization rather than IE in general)
- The functionality of arrows that show when “Compact’ appearance is shown for a group in a Survey123 form: This a great way to collapse sections of your form but unfortunately, the user has to tap just right (On the very left edge of the arrow?) to get it to expand. If I was typical user that didn’t know that there was info in this collapsed section, I would move on after my first tap attempt. Consequently, I have to include an explanation of an action in my group label like: “(Tap the arrow to show) Optional Animal Details”
- Currently Survey123 does not support calculations on select_one or select_multiple question types, there is currently a feature enhancement in the backlog for this request. https://community.esri.com/thread/198254-problem-in-survey123-basing-default-value-of-one-question-on-condition-of-another
- Adding new fields in S123 to HFS without having to overwrite: Great new functionality but be aware that it can only can be done when HFS was created in S123 (so not a HFS published from a FC/fgdb or a Survey123 that was built off of the original form and HFS). Also, it can’t be used to create a new related table (repeats).
- When publishing a new HFS from S123, domain names get re-written to reflect the field names they are used in. So a domain gets created for each field that uses it regardless of whether it has all the same values as 10 other field/domains (e.g. dYesNo)