Design an editable layer

ArcGIS Field Maps allows you to create an asset inventory, record observations, and perform inspections in the field. Mobile workers use the app in the field, collecting locations and filling out forms. The information mobile workers can provide is determined by the editable layers and map you deploy. You can include new layers as well as existing layers. The layers determine the information that can be captured in the form, and through the map, you can customize the form for your mobile workers.

Before you create a map, you need to make some decisions about the layers you'll use in Field Maps for your collection project.

Choose your spatial information

Before creating layers, think about the spatial information that is important to the work your mobile workers are doing. Create a layer that supports the appropriate type.

Information to captureSpatial type to useExample

A single place on the earth

Points

A fire hydrant

A distance or length to capture and measure

Lines

A road

An area or space to capture and measure

Polygons

A building parcel

Choose how to store your layer

The layer storage recommendations depend on the purpose of your collection and whether you require quality assurance (QA) or quality checks (QC). See the recommendations based on the purpose of your collection:

It is recommended that if you're creating a new layer you create a hosted feature layer; however, you may need to use ArcGIS Server for your editable layer. If so, review the recommendations for using ArcGIS Server for a new editable layer.

Create an asset inventory or record new observations

Your mobile workers capture a new type of asset or observation, including location and form. To support these projects, create an editable hosted feature layer to hold the new type of assets and observations. Once the project is complete, review the new assets and observations. You can then use them as your authoritative layer or import them into ArcGIS Server.

Tip:

To maintain the assets and observations through inspections using the hosted feature layer created for this project, decide whether you want historical inspection reports or current status reports. If historical reports are important, create the layer with related tables that you'll use later to collect the inspection information. This associates multiple forms with a single location. If only current status is important, evaluate the editing permissions on the layer once it is used for inspections, as the mobile workers won't need to update the location of assets and observations. When you are ready to use it for inspections, it is best to restrict mobile workers to attribute updates, preventing them from accidentally changing the locations.

When you create a layer, typically you'll create a hosted feature layer; however, you may need to use ArcGIS Server for your editable layer. This is also supported (although creating a service is not covered in depth in this topic). See Use ArcGIS Server for a new editable layer for more information.

Add assets or observations to an existing collection

Your mobile workers capture additional assets or observations (including location and form), supplementing an existing asset inventory or set of observations. Since QA and QC are often key to these projects, use workflows that support them:

  • Create an editable hosted feature layer to hold the newly added assets and observations during the collection project. Once the project is complete, review the additions and import them into your authoritative (existing) layer (either another hosted feature layer or on ArcGIS Server).
  • Add the new assets and observations to existing versioned data in an ArcGIS Server feature service. Using versioned data provides a QA or QC workflow through reconciling and posting.
  • Add the new assets and observations to an existing layer and flag them for review. Include a hidden field indicating if the asset or observation has been reviewed using a default value such as new or not reviewed. Its value is updated during QA or QC (for example, to reviewed). A new asset or observation can be part of your authoritative layer as it is collected, but the flag entry indicates if it is under review. You can also use a hosted feature view, indicating if your authoritative layer shows the in-progress, under-review assets or observations, or if they are excluded.

If you use an existing layer, it must meet the editable data requirements.

Ground truth existing assets and observations

Your mobile workers inspect existing assets or observations, updating location and the form as needed when they don't match what is seen in the field. The project layer recommendation is based on how your existing layer is stored and if QA and QC are required. See additional information for the following existing layer types:

If you're using an existing layer or service, see Editable layer requirements.

Existing editable hosted feature layer

If you have an existing editable hosted feature layer and don't require QA or QC, use the existing layer. If your project requires QA or QC, use one of the structures below for your project layer. Use the one that best fits your organization's workflows:

  • Create an editable hosted feature layer for the project and import the existing layer into it. Either include a flag indicating changes or use editor tracking to see what has changed over the course of the project. Once the project is complete, review the changes and append to your authoritative (existing) layer.
  • Add an entry to the form of the existing hosted feature layer to flag edited assets and observations for review. Use the existing hosted feature layer for the project and review flagged assets and observations.

Existing versioned data in an ArcGIS Server feature service

If you have existing versioned data in an ArcGIS Server feature service, use the existing service in Field Maps. Since your layer is versioned, perform QA checks before the edits are brought into the version representing the current state of the system (versioned data provides a workflow through reconciling and posting).

Existing archive-enabled, nonversioned data in an editable ArcGIS Server feature service

If you have existing archive-enabled, nonversioned data in an editable ArcGIS Server feature service and don't require QA or QC, use the existing layer. If your project requires QA or QC, use one of the structures below for your project layer. Use the one that best fits your organization's workflows:

  • Create an editable hosted feature layer for the project and import the existing layer into it. Either include a flag indicating changes or use editor tracking to see what has changed over the course of the project. Once the project is complete, review the changes and append to your authoritative (existing) layer.
  • Add an entry to the form of the existing layer to flag edited assets and observations for review. Use the existing layer for the project and review flagged assets and observations.
  • Version the data and publish an ArcGIS Server feature service to use for the project. Use reconciling and posting to review the changes, bring them into the versioned data, and import them into your original, nonversioned data.

Existing layer not supported for editing in Field Maps

If you have an existing layer that is not supported for editing in Field Maps and don't require QA or QC, create an editable hosted feature layer for the project and import the existing layer into it. If your project requires QA or QC, use one of the structures below for your project layer. Use the one that best fits your organization's workflows:

  • Create an editable hosted feature layer for the project and import the existing layer into it. Either include a flag indicating changes or use editor tracking to see what has changed over the course of the project. Once the project is complete, review the changes.
  • Create versioned data in an ArcGIS Server feature service for the project and import the existing layer into it. Once the project is complete, use reconciling and posting to review the changes and bring them into the versioned data.

The new layer becomes your authoritative layer and is imported into ArcGIS Server or exported to the previous format.

Record current status with no historical records

Your mobile workers update the form based on an inspection. The project recommendation is based on how the existing layer is stored and matches the recommendations made above for ground truthing projects.

In addition to the ground truthing project recommendations, you can restrict mobile workers to attribute updates, preventing them from accidentally changing the locations. To do this, you can create a hosted feature layer view that only allows attribute updates (see Limit the data available to mobile workers). One benefit of doing this is it ensures that high-accuracy GPS positions are not updated, maintaining the recorded metadata.

Record current status with historical records

Your mobile workers add new related forms to report on an inspection. When historical reports are important, use related tables to capture the inspections. This associates multiple forms with a single location. Like the mobile workers who record current status without historical records, these workers also won't update the location of the assets and observations.

The project recommendation is based on how the existing layer is stored and matches the recommendations made above for ground truthing projects. However, if your existing layer doesn't have related tables, import the existing layer into a new layer that does. This new layer can be a hosted feature layer or an ArcGIS Server feature service.

Use ArcGIS Server for a new editable layer

When you create a layer, typically you'll create a hosted feature layer; however, you may need to use ArcGIS Server for the editable layer. While this is also supported in Field Maps, the steps for creating a service are not covered in depth in this topic. Based on the type of data collection project you are doing, some recommendations for your ArcGIS Server feature service are presented below.

If you are capturing assets or observations (including creating an asset inventory, recording new observations, and adding additional assets or observations to an existing collection) using ArcGIS Server, you can use archive-enabled, nonversioned data in a feature service. Since the mobile workers aren't editing the same assets or observations, you don't need versioned data to manage conflict resolution. Another benefit of versioned data is you can perform quality control before the data is brought into the version representing the current state of the system; however, capturing new data should be done outside of your authoritative data and managed separately. The data quality can be reviewed as part of the project instead of as part of managing versioned data. Once reviewed, the data can be merged into the authoritative data. Going forward, you can maintain this data through the authoritative data and not use the originally captured data for maintenance. See the data requirements for ArcGIS Server feature services.

If you are ground truthing existing data or performing inspections using ArcGIS Server, you can use versioned data in a feature service. While mobile workers may not be inspecting the same assets or observations, it is common for them to be editing data that is already in a production database and used throughout your organization. You can perform QA checks before the edits are brought into the version representing the current state of the system (versioned data provides a workflow through reconciling and posting).

Form design

Mobile workers rely on the form. As you prepare your layer, remember that form entries are driven by the structure of your layer—the fields in your layer are the entries in the form your mobile workers use in Field Maps. If you're creating a layer, keep this in mind as you add fields to it. If you're using an existing layer, consider updating it to provide a better form.

Note:

You can now use the Field Maps web app to build forms for data collection, including adding new fields to the layer. To learn how to build forms in Field Maps, see Configure the form.

Form entriesSupporting data

Drop-down lists

Use a coded value domain to provide mobile workers with a list of valid choices. You can also use subtypes to constrain the choices based on choices made for other entries.

Numeric ranges

Prescribe the range of values that are valid using a range domain.

Required information

Use required fields to force mobile workers to provide information in particular entries of the form.

Default values

Provide a default value that populates the entry in a new form.

Date selection

Use a date field type (not string) so that mobile workers are provided with a date-selection experience in the form.

Attach a photo, video, document, or audio clip

Note:

Audio attachments and documents (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .xls, and .xlsx files) are only supported on iOS.

Enable attachments on the layer.

Information from scanning barcodes or QR codes

Scan a barcode or QR code. Field Maps allows text and string entries to be populated by scanning a barcode or QR code.

Record GPS metadata

Prepare the layer to record GPS metadata. (This is just one part of preparing for high-accuracy data collection.) This is supported for point layers.

Track edits

Enable editor tracking on your layer and Field Maps records it for you. This is helpful if you need to know who is collecting or modifying the data.

Next steps

Now that you've designed your layer, you are ready to prepare it for data collection. For more information, see Prepare an editable layer.