This post is aimed at ArcView users working alone (or in small, remote groups) that want to collect data from mobile field devices efficently, without having to deal with any server or server software. Arc2Earth Sync works a lot like DropBox for syncing your local ArcGIS data but you can also publish your online tables using the Open Geospatial REST specification, the primary benefit being out of the box interop with all of the existing (and future) ArcGIS applications. You are not limited to using ArcGIS as your main editor but for the purpose of this post, we’ll be looking at how to use the ArcGIS mobile apps to edit data in the field.
What you need to get started:
- ArcView 9.2 or greater
- Arc2Earth Sync Beta (signup here for free)
- Google Account (signup for a Gmail account here)
- ArcGIS.com Account (signup here for free)
Signup for the Sync Beta and Login to Sync
To get started, signup for the Arc2Earth Sync beta and authorize your account so you use Google Fusion Tables as the backend database for your data. Once you’ve authorized your account, startup Sync and login using your Google and ArcGIS.com accounts.
Create a Table
Open the main Table Explorer window and click on the Add Table button. The wizard will walk yout hrough the process of creating a table manually or uploading an existing one to your Table Provider (Fusion Tables and CartoDB in the beta, more to come soon)
For this example, we’ll create a polygon table in Fusion Tables with two string fields. For the second field, we want easy and controlled data entry so we’ll setup a Coded Value domain that will be honored by all the ESRI apps (web, mobile and ArcMap). We’ve streamedlined this process so all you need to do is enter a comma delimited list of values for the domain. Click the Create button wait a few seconds while the table is created in the local cache and on the Cloud service.
Once the table is created, we need to publish it to ArcGIS.com so its available to all of the mobile clients automatically. Open the table’s Properties window and goto the Publish tab. Set the ArcGIS.com slider to “On” and click Ok to save the options. While saving, Sync is publishing an ESRI web map to your ArcGIS.com account, into a special folder called Arc2Earth Sync Maps. You’ll now be able to interact with this table on any of the mobile apps (Android, iOS, Windows etc) simply by going to that folder. To share this map with other ArcGIS.com web and mobile users, add it to a Group or share it with individuals.
Open in ArcMap
Select the table in the listview and click the “Open in ArcMap” button on the toolbar, this will either add the layer to an existing ArcMap or open a new one. You now have a live connection with Fusion Tables and ArcGIS.com, as edits come in from mobile apps, you will see them automatically in ArcMap. Likewise, as you edit in ArcMap, they will be streamed automatically up to the cloud and will be visible to all of the mobile clients (note – some of the ArcGIS mobile apps cache data so a map refresh might be necessary to see new data). Also check out this blog post on Table Sharing to see how could further the reach of this table by sharing it with other Sync users located anywhere in the world.
Add Data from the Web or Mobile Client
Now let’s make some edits from three different clients (ArcMap, ArcGIS.com web app and the ArcGIS Android app) and watch as they automatically synchronize between your local cache and the backend Google Fusion Table
Photos and Attachments
A great feature of the new mobile apps is the ability to attach photos and documents to any feature you’ve editing in the field. The was previously a tedious process that required matching up feature Ids and photos timestamps once data was brought back to the office. Now it happens automatically and even better, Sync will download any photo attached to a feature into a folder on your local computer. You’ll also be able to view it online using your Sync admin pages or as thumbnails images in your popup Info Windows in other apps
Online Feature Page screen grab