Is field maps good choice for mixed methods map-based survey

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02-23-2024 12:18 PM
JohnMorgan
Occasional Contributor

Hello, 

I want to design a survey for respondents to complete on a tablet. It doesn't matter so much where the person is standing while taking the survey. Essentially, the survey will be a series of multiple choice questions (non-map) and then several map-based questions such as a circle or selecting the location (e.g., a building) based on the topic. Is field maps a good choice for this type of survey? Or should I be looking at some other Esri solution? If so, can you point me in the right direction? 

Thanks, 

Derek

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ChristineTombleson1
Occasional Contributor

We use Survey123 Connect, Field Maps, and a combination of the two.  The answer to your question depends on what you want to do. If your data collection is more information and not so much feature delineation, Survey123 is easier and more accessible to users. If your data is more map centric, Field Maps has advantages. However, Survey123 has also come a long way and users of Survey123 can now create points, lines, and polygons on maps.  If your survey is more question centric about existing features, then Survey123 may be better. Survey123 is much easier to use (in my opinion) and the survey forms have more options than the Field Maps smart forms (though ESRI keeps updating these apps and adds functionality). One issue with Field Maps is you cannot have a user select multiple options on a field.  This is one reason we incorporated survey123 forms into Field Maps.  Note also, learned the hard way, that not all functions of available in Survey123 work when using Survey123 integrated into Field Maps.  Grids is an example.  Survey123 Form custom colors and other formatting is also not available in Field Maps. The other issue is if you are having the public collect the data, users of Survey123 don't need to have an ESRI account.  Field Maps requires users to have an account to access the app.  Also, if you are collecting data where you may not have internet connection Field Maps works well with offline maps.  Survey123 Field App supports offline maps also but Survey123 Web App does not.  Survey123 Connect allows for more advanced features on your survey vs Survey123 Web App. We also found that if you use Field Maps App to collect on the ground data (we were collecting shoreline feature data), an external blue tooth GPS unit is helpful to improve the accuracy of the location data. If using the phone/tablet "GPS", accuracy can be quite low depending on where you are. I would start reading about the Field Apps and watching the Videos on YouTube, you can really learn a lot from the videos.         

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ChristineTombleson1
Occasional Contributor

We use Survey123 Connect, Field Maps, and a combination of the two.  The answer to your question depends on what you want to do. If your data collection is more information and not so much feature delineation, Survey123 is easier and more accessible to users. If your data is more map centric, Field Maps has advantages. However, Survey123 has also come a long way and users of Survey123 can now create points, lines, and polygons on maps.  If your survey is more question centric about existing features, then Survey123 may be better. Survey123 is much easier to use (in my opinion) and the survey forms have more options than the Field Maps smart forms (though ESRI keeps updating these apps and adds functionality). One issue with Field Maps is you cannot have a user select multiple options on a field.  This is one reason we incorporated survey123 forms into Field Maps.  Note also, learned the hard way, that not all functions of available in Survey123 work when using Survey123 integrated into Field Maps.  Grids is an example.  Survey123 Form custom colors and other formatting is also not available in Field Maps. The other issue is if you are having the public collect the data, users of Survey123 don't need to have an ESRI account.  Field Maps requires users to have an account to access the app.  Also, if you are collecting data where you may not have internet connection Field Maps works well with offline maps.  Survey123 Field App supports offline maps also but Survey123 Web App does not.  Survey123 Connect allows for more advanced features on your survey vs Survey123 Web App. We also found that if you use Field Maps App to collect on the ground data (we were collecting shoreline feature data), an external blue tooth GPS unit is helpful to improve the accuracy of the location data. If using the phone/tablet "GPS", accuracy can be quite low depending on where you are. I would start reading about the Field Apps and watching the Videos on YouTube, you can really learn a lot from the videos.         

JohnMorgan
Occasional Contributor

Thanks for this helpful response, Christine. It sounds like Survey123 is the way to go because we do need a public collection of data as survey takes we recruit, and they won't have an Esri account. We don't really need offline support per say as we will be near a wifi. One more follow-up question, if you don't mind: what is the distinction between Survey123 and Survey Connect? 

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ChristineTombleson1
Occasional Contributor

Survey123 connect creates a Survey form using an XLS form similar to an excel spreadsheet.  This version provides for additional advanced features on a survey.   Survey123 is a drag and drop website version where surveys can be created.  I have always used the XLS form because that is how I learned Survey123, however, the web based version I have been told is more user friendly but one can learn the XLS.         

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erKay_nv5
New Contributor II

@ChristineTombleson1 has a great summation. If your survey form is pretty simple, then design in the Survey123 web app is accessible and simple. Survey123 Connect and the XLS form are better for more complicated survey forms. 

For example, I have to collect archaeological data, and this requires lots of conditional "subforms" that should only be visible when a surveyor collects specific data types (think stone tool vs prehistoric ceramic sherd; selecting stone tool should pull up a different set of attributes than the ceramic sherd). 

The attribute data would work better in Survey123, but I'm having issues integrating them. In FieldMaps, each collected point gets a corresponding table entry that encompasses ALL the fields on the form, even the hidden conditional ones, which are just null values for attributes that the surveyor would never see for that point.