Prepare an editable layer

In ArcGIS Field Maps, you can create an asset inventory, record observations, and perform inspections in the field. Your 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 map and layers you deploy.

You'll use the editable layer you designed to create the layer (optionally loading existing assets or observations into it). First, decide how to create your layer. You can create your layer in one of four ways:

Once you create your layer, you can limit the data available to mobile workers through hosted feature layer views.

You can also create a map for your collection project that mobile workers can use in the field. You can continue preparing the map for your mobile workers by configuring the form.

Decide how to create the layer

Create an editable hosted feature layer that mobile workers use to collect assets and observations. Editable feature layers can be created in ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Enterprise, or ArcGIS Pro. They can be created by using templates, importing existing data from your organization, or a combination of both.

First, consider how you will use existing data. If your collection project is about inspections (either ground truthing or updating assets or observations based on current status), your mobile workers need to use existing data while in the field. Do you want to define the structure of the new layer yourself (specifying the fields) and import existing data to that structure or is the structure of your existing data sufficient for your collection project? To define the structure, create a layer and load the existing data into it. To use the structure of the existing data, create the layer based on that existing data.

Use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise

Use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise if you are new to GIS or if you already use these tools. Depending on how you use existing data, you’ll either create a layer using a template or create a layer by importing existing data.

Use ArcGIS Pro

Use ArcGIS Pro if you are a GIS analyst or you possess a strong understanding of geodatabases, feature classes, and geoprocessing tools. You’ll either create a feature class or create a layer by importing existing data.

Use a template in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise

Feature layer templates covering a broad spectrum of industries and workflows are included with ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. For example, you can create a layer for damage assessments, fire hydrants, or ground control points. ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise include information for working with layers and both support customization. Add and remove fields (form entries), define lists of valid choices, define default values, and enable attachments (photos, videos, documents, and audio). You can start with a blank template, Build a layer, to create a hosted feature layer and define all the fields yourself. If you have a layer you want to base your new layer on (for example, the past year's project), you can use an existing layer as your template. Once your hosted feature layer is ready, you can optionally load existing data. See Create from a template or existing feature layer in ArcGIS Online or Create from a template or existing feature layer in ArcGIS Enterprise.

Note:

The Build a layer template and the ability to edit the fields in a hosted feature layer are supported in ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 and later.

The following are recommendations for creating a layer from a template for use in Field Maps:

  • Create and configure the form for your layer by customizing the fields. See Define the fields to prepare for the form.
  • To allow mobile workers to attach photos, videos, documents, and audio files, enable attachments. See Allow attachments in ArcGIS Online or Allow attachments in ArcGIS Enterprise.
    Note:

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

  • To support using the layer offline for mobile workers who work in areas without a reliable data connection, or any data connection at all, verify that sync is enabled in the layer's settings.
  • To see which mobile worker made which edits, configure the layer to track edits. You can also restrict mobile workers to only edit their own assets and observations. See Allow others to edit in ArcGIS Online or Allow others to edit in ArcGIS Enterprise.
  • Restrict the edits made by your mobile workers based on the type of data collection project. Choose a setting for What kind of editing is allowed in the layer's settings. For guidance on the permissions to use, see Restrict editing permissions.
  • To store historical reports, you need to use a template that has a related table, for example, the Hydrant Maintenance Inspections template. You can configure the layer and table names, as well as the fields, so make sure you get a related table and don't worry if the rest of the template doesn't match your desired layer structure.
  • To record information about the GPS used as the mobile workers are adding locations (for example, to know how accurate your locations are), capture GPS receiver information. This adds fields to your layer and prepares it to capture GPS metadata. With these fields in place, Field Maps automatically captures values provided by the GPS.
  • To load existing data into your hosted feature layer, append the existing data to the layer. See Append data to layers in ArcGIS Online or Append data in ArcGIS Enterprise.

Import data in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise

If the structure of your existing data is sufficient for your collection project and you use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, first determine if you can publish your data as a hosted feature layer. See Publish hosted feature layers in ArcGIS Online or Publish hosted feature layers in ArcGIS Enterprise for more information.

If your existing data format isn't supported for publishing as a hosted feature layer, either convert it to a supported format and publish it or create a layer and load your data into it. To provide your own fields while creating the layer, choose the Build a layer template. When adding the fields, refer to your existing data and match its structure.

Note:

The Build a layer template is supported in ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 and later.

Create a feature class in ArcGIS Pro

Use ArcGIS Pro to design a feature class. Once your feature class is ready, you can optionally load existing data. To use the data in Field Maps, add the feature class to a map in your ArcGIS Pro project and publish it as a hosted feature layer. See Share a web feature layer for more information.

Tip:

You can only load data into your new feature class from feature classes, tables, shapefiles, rasters, and annotation or dimensions feature classes. If your existing data is in a different format, you must to import it to one of these formats to create the layer with these steps. If it's in a different format, see Create a layer by importing data in ArcGIS Pro.

The following are recommendations for creating a layer in ArcGIS Pro for use in Field Maps:

  • Create and configure the form for your layer by customizing the fields. Use the field type, domains, and subtypes to configure the behavior of the entries. See Define the fields to prepare for the form.
  • To allow mobile workers to attach photos, videos, documents, and audio files, enable attachments. Run the Enable Attachments tool on your new feature class.
    Note:

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

  • To support using the layer offline for mobile workers who work in areas without a reliable data connection, or any data connection at all, enable sync on the Configuration tab when publishing your layer.
  • To see which mobile worker made which edits, enable editor tracking.
  • Restrict the edits made by your mobile workers based on the type of data collection project using the Configuration tab when publishing your layer. For guidance on the permissions to use, see Restrict editing permissions.
  • To store historical reports, you need to add a related table. First, add a GlobalID field to your feature class (this is the Origin Primary Key for the relationship class). Create a table in the project geodatabase to store the inspection reports, and configure the form for the table in the same way you do for the layer (this is the inspection form in Field Maps). Include a GUID field in your table (this is the Origin Foreign Key for the relationship class). Run the Create Relationship Class tool using your new feature class as the origin and your table of inspection reports as the destination. For historical reports, use the Cardinality setting of One to many. See Relationship class properties.
  • To record information about the GPS used as mobile workers are adding locations (for example, to know how accurate your locations are), run the Add GPS Metadata Fields tool on your new feature class. This adds fields to your layer and prepares it to capture GPS metadata. With these fields in place, Field Maps automatically captures values provided by the GPS.
    Note:

    The GPS Metadata Fields tool is available in ArcGIS Pro 2.2 and later. If using an earlier version of ArcGIS Pro, you must run a script. You can run it in ArcGIS Pro or at the command line. See the Add GNSS Metadata Fields script.

  • To load existing data into your feature class, import it by running an applicable tool from the Conversion toolbox.

Once you publish your hosted feature layer, you can further refine the editing permissions of your mobile workers using the settings on your published layer (using a web browser and updating the item page for your hosted feature layer). There are two types of limitation you may want to put in place:

  • If the mobile workers should only be able to edit assets and observations they submitted, use the layer settings to restrict them to only edit their own features. See Allow others to edit in ArcGIS Online or Allow others to edit in ArcGIS Enterprise.
  • If you are performing inspections (either ground truthing or updating assets or observations based on current status), you can restrict the editing permissions of mobile workers. When you publish the layer, you can restrict them to adding, updating, and deleting features or to updating feature attributes only. Using the hosted feature layer, you can be more specific about what is and isn't allowed. Choose a setting for What kind of editing is allowed in the layer's settings. For guidance on the permissions to use, see Restrict editing permissions.
Tip:

If you're using ArcGIS Server and you're creating data or updating data not yet in your geodatabase, run the project outside your geodatabase (using a hosted feature layer). Then it can be reviewed for quality assurance and imported to ArcGIS Server at the completion of the project.

Import data in ArcGIS Pro

If the structure of your existing data is sufficient for your collection project and you use ArcGIS Pro, determine if you can import your data to ArcGIS. Run an applicable tool from the Conversion toolbox to create a feature class from your existing data. Then use the feature class to publish a hosted feature layer (See Create a layer with ArcGIS Pro for more information, but skip steps 2 and 3, and in step 4, import into a new feature class instead of an existing one).

Define the fields to prepare the form

The form is how mobile workers provide details about assets, observations, and inspections (including notes and pictures). Each field corresponds to an entry in the form, and how you define the fields determines the form you can create. As you prepare your layer, include necessary fields and make some decisions about the structure of your data that will determine the configuration of your form. See Add or delete a field in ArcGIS Online, Add or delete a field in ArcGIS Enterprise, or Fields view in ArcGIS Pro.

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.

Using ArcGIS Enterprise to add and edit fields requires ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 or later.

Restrict editing permissions

Restrict the edits made by your mobile workers based on the type of data collection project. The recommended permissions for the various data collection projects are as follows:

  • Create an asset inventory, record new observations, or add assets or observations to an existing collection.

    Mobile workers need full editing permissions for the assets and observations. Choose the Add, update, and delete features permission.

    Note:

    While you can restrict this to only adding features (or only adding and updating features if using ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise), access to updating and deleting features allows mobile workers to correct errors in the form and remove assets and observations created by mistake.

  • Ground truth existing assets and observations and correct any discrepancies that are found.

    The editing permissions depend on what your mobile workers are verifying in the field:

    • Mobile workers correct both locations and forms for the assets and observations—They need permission to update features. Choose the Update features permission. This permission can only be set in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. If you are creating the layer in ArcGIS Pro, choose Add, update, and delete features and further restrict the permissions after publishing the layer.
    • Mobile workers correct forms (but not locations) for the assets and observations—They need permission to update the attributes. Choose the Update attributes only permission in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise or the Update feature attributes only permission in ArcGIS Pro.
    • Mobile workers correct both locations and forms for the assets and observations as well as add those that weren't accounted for in the original data—They need permission to add and update features. Choose the Add and update features permission. This permission can only be set in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. If you are creating the layer in ArcGIS Pro, choose the Add, update, and delete features permission and further restrict the permissions after publishing the layer.
    • Mobile workers correct both locations and forms for the assets and observations, add those that weren't accounted for in the original data, and remove those that don't exist on the ground—They need full editing permission for the assets and observations. Choose the Add, update, and delete features permission.
  • Update existing assets or observations with current status without a need for historical reports.

    Mobile workers need to update the form and be prevented from changing the location of the assets and observations, adding them, or deleting them. Choose the Update attributes only permission in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise or the Update feature attributes only permission in ArcGIS Pro.

  • Update existing assets or observations with current status with historical reports.

    Mobile workers need to add new reports. If updates are allowed, they can also update existing reports. Choose the Add features permission in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, the Add and update features permission in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, or the Add features only permission in ArcGIS Pro.

    Note:

    With these settings, mobile workers can add new assets and observations (as well as update the form and location of existing assets and observations, if update is allowed) along with adding reports. If you restrict them to updating attributes only, the same applies to the related table, and mobile workers won't be able to add new reports. To prevent mobile workers from adding new assets or observations, or changing existing ones, you can manage that as part of creating the map by disabling editing on the layer of assets and observations (leaving editing enabled on the table). See Create a map for more information.

Limit the data available to mobile workers

Your layer may include more data than your mobile workers need to see. For example, you're working with contractors who can only inspect assets while other employees of your organization need full editing access. Or there are entries in the form that you don't want contractors to access. By creating a hosted feature layer view for the contractors, you can limit the capabilities and access they have, preventing them from bypassing the restrictions. See Create hosted feature layer views in ArcGIS Online or Create hosted feature layer views in ArcGIS Enterprise.

Next steps

Now that you've prepared the layer your mobile workers will use to collect data in the field, you can do the following: