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Survey 123 vs. GoCanvas

10-16-2018 03:52 AM
Status: Open
New Contributor III

Esri needs to check out GoCanvas: Mobile Business Apps and Forms on Android, iPad, iPhone . It blows Survey 123 almost completely away.* Yes, S123 can capture photos, has cascading fields with drop down choices, and has a GUI for designing forms on the web. But if you want to get fancy with your form, you have to learn how to use S123 Connect. GoCanvas is one of many mobile field collection solutions but it is more capable, has more features, and is more flexible than S123.

GoCancas is totally a GUI for designing forms. It has:

1) Fields that auto-calculate.

2) You can take photos and then DRAW ON THEM.

3) Set up If/Thens for turning on entire pages of questions.

4) Upload reference data that can be used to drill down to narrow choices as you go through a set of questions.

5) Reference photos can be uploaded and then drawn on. For instance, if you do a damage assessment for baseball fields, you can upload a template outline of a baseball field and then draw on it with different colors to highlight damage or make notes.

6) OFFLINE capability. Take the form into the field, collect your data and sync later.

7) Collect coordinates and include as a map or set of x,y in your report.

😎 Automatically generate PDF reports, standard or designed with their PDF designer.


9) Automatically submit reports to a connect cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive.

10) Workforce and dispatching capabilities.

11) API's to connect to a database or other web platforms such as Quickbase.

12) And this could all feed into a web GIS with a bit of programming.

I have used GoCanvas for the past year for damage assessments and inspections; it has proven to be almost infinitely flexible as requirements change on a daily or weekly basis. It is our go-to for field data collection. Esri must either match the capabilities of GoCanvas (and save us from spending tens of thousands of dollars on another application), buy the GoCanvas company, or fall behind this competition.

*No, I do not in any way work for or represent GoCanvas.


Hi John,

> GoCanvas is ...  more capable, has more features, and is more flexible than S123

Actually, I would respectfully disagree and say that Survey123 for ArcGIS can do many of the items in your list already. Yes, you may need to configure some of these capabilities in Survey123 Connect instead of Web Designer - but the functionality is available.

FYI, there are many Survey123 Connect tutorial videos available, see this playlist Survey123 - YouTube 

Hope this helps,



Thank you for taking the time to listen and respond. I should have made my point clear that those capabilities have to be configured in Connect versus available through the web version. However, I stand by my main point that that are other options out there besides S123 that are easier to use in terms of configuring available capabilities in a browser environments, especially when it comes to creating more complicated field calculations, form flows, and report design.

I did watch most of those tutorials again though so thanks for sharing that as well.




Hello John McEwen, GISP,

Thank you for submitting this idea! As Derek has noted, much of this is already possible with Survey123 Connect. However, based on this idea and your reply, it looks like you might be requesting this functionality in the web designer. Is that correct?

To help us better manage your requests, would you be able to submit separate ideas for each distinct functionality you'd like to see on the Survey123 website? Additionally, when logging new ideas, please provide some context around your request. This will help us understand how the given functionality will impact your workflows and projects.




Thanks for your interest Scott. Sorry it's taken me a while to respond. I just started working on creating the individual post.


If you want to make a simple survey and use a GUI online to do so, GoCanvas does seem to have a little more customizability. However, if you need any complex features (like nested repeats or complex calculations) Survey123 Connect seems to be the way to go (although I'm still waiting on a few features). I tried out GC and the one thing I do really like is the idea of customizable PDF output. I think I saw that Survey123 has something like this in their product plan, is this correct? I'll comment on John's post about that feature.



Nested repeats is not a problem (unless you are trying to push data to it using API integrations with a data server). And it may be possible to nest repeats in repeats in repeats. But that might be going far.

Regarding complicated calculations, it is just a matter of setting some constants if you need them and setting things up in the correct order to perform the calculation. You are right that if you need anything more than basic math, you would need to use Connect. But, if you happen to be pulling data into a server, you could just do the calculation in there. I've never had to do much that went beyond basic math so far.

I've got a couple other posts that go into a bit more detail for some specific things I'd like S123 to be able to do.

- John


Oh I see how to do nested repeats now, thanks for pointing that out. The calculations I need to do involve nested conditional statements (I only want it to pull certain values if certain previous conditions are met). I could potentially work around that by creating a lot of calculated fields with conditions, but I much prefer to write one clean equation in an XLS form. I do agree, though, that adding calculated fields to the Survey123 web designer would help those who prefer using a GUI. And the ability to export survey responses to a custom-designed PDF is incredibly useful (although GC cannot display nested repeats in the PDF yet).

Unfortunately neither platform allows me to customize the appearance of the survey on a mobile device in a way that's conducive to the data I need to collect, but I'm hoping as each platform strives to improve, that will come eventually.