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Advanced offline options and offline map areas

Question asked by SLeusink on May 24, 2019

I am trying to understand how the advanced offline options regarding sync direction interact with the offline map areas. From some initial testing, it appears that once a user downloads a map in Collector, they are locked into the advanced sync settings and would have to sync all their local edits before removing the map area and downloading a fresh copy with the updated advanced settings.

 

I also noticed that if you select that the "Device will never download or get updates for features" under the Editable features, the user will not be able to have any of the existing features that belong to Editable layers saved on their device at all - even if they exist at the time the map is downloaded. They will not be part of the packaged offline map area or any adhoc offline areas added directly on the device.

 

With the previous version of Collector (now Classic), the sync direction was controlled by a single setting within the app itself - basically, turning Push Only on or off. While I can understand that it could be useful to control the sync direction with each map instead of having a single setting that applies to all maps directly in the app, it was handy to have this setting on the device that could easily be changed based on your immediate needs. Plus, it is extremely useful to be able to do a one-time download of any existing features in AGOL, and then prevent any new edits made by other users from getting pulled down to the device. This seems to no longer be an option with the new workflow.

 

Here are a couple real-world situations from using Collector Classic that will not work with the new Collector's approach:

 

1. A user goes into a field and collects a number of observation points and photos. A few months later, they go back into the field and want to collect more observations, but they would like to have their previous notes as reference. With Collector Classic, they simply download a new copy of the map and head into the field. With the new Collector, if you wanted to have them only push their updates to AGOL and not pull any additional changes to the device, their previous notes must now be made read-only prior to the trip, in order for them to download these existing features. However, now they can no longer modify these notes if they came across something that would be helpful to add, unless you also give them a new editable layer.

 

2. A few users go into the field for a couple weeks. They each have a tablet that has the same map downloaded for offline use. They start out wanting the ability to sync and have their edits visible to each other, so the Push Only setting is turned off. They collect observation points and photos, and all is going smoothly, but then a few days into the trip they have issues with reliable internet connections (data is not an option because there is no cell service either). The number of local offline edits start to build and successful syncing becomes an issue. So, to limit the number of features that need to be synced, the Push Only setting is turned on - this way, their local edits will still get saved to AGOL in case something happens to their tablet but they save bandwidth by not also pulling updates to their device. **being able to change to Push Only on the fly ended up being the only way to successfully sync; without it, the data would have been locked on the tablet until it could be manually transferred and processed back at the office, because the offline edits absolutely would not sync otherwise**

 

My understanding is that neither of these workflows fit with the new approach. Please, let me know if I am incorrect!

 

Suggestions:

- Could there be an additional option in the advanced settings for editable features, something like "Device will download existing features and attachments but not get updates"

- Could there also be some way to override the sync direction (push/pull or push only) directly on the device for each map?

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