In my blog post series so far this year, I have considered and written up common workflows for preparing data for ‘in field’ collection capture using the Collector for ArcGIS app.
If you’ve missed any of these blogs, you can find them using the Collector tag on this page.
So what’s the next step? Well, now that you’ve published the data, and used the Collector app to collect new features and you’re back at the office, you’d probably like to get the data from the “cloud” and do some good old editing or analysis in ArcGIS for Desktop.
This brings us to my current blog post! Here I’ll cover a few simple techniques that you may use to extract the data from a feature service that’s running on ArcGIS Online, and use it in ArcGIS Desktop. To illustrate this workflow I will use the same feature service representing traffic accidents that I’ve used to demonstrate the Collector’s “offline editing” workflows.
Workflow #1.: Extract the data in a form of a shapefile or a CSV table.
ArcGIS Online for Organisations allows you to extract the data that you’ve collected using the Collector App as shapefile or a CSV file.
1. Log in to ArcGIS Online for Organisations and navigate to MyContents
2. Locate the feature service that stores the points collected by the mobile app and open its properties (left-click on the name of the feature service).
3. Click the arrow next to the layer that you’d like to export and choose the output format
The resulting shapefile will be saved to the My Content folder (root). You can click the drop-down arrow and download it.
Now we’ve got our data from the cloud. There are, however, some shortcomings to consider. The biggest consideration is that shapefiles are not capable of handling attachments. So if you collected any photographs or added any other attachments, such as PDF documents, they will not be exported with the attribute table and the geometries to an output shapefile.
Workflow #2. Open the map in ArcGIS Desktop and create a local copy for editing
Let’s return to the My Content folder on ArcGIS Online and locate the same feature service that we used in workflow one.
1. Click on the dropdown arrow on the right and choose the “open in ArcGIS Desktop” option
2. Your browser should download a package. Once completed, click on it and this should launch ArcMap.
A new ArcMap document with the feature service layer added to the table of contents will open.
3. Right-click on the group layer (the feature service layer which may contain several feature layers) and choose Edit Features > Create Local Copy for Editing
A local copy of the data will be created and saved to the ArcMap’s home folder. By default it’s located at C:\Users\<Current User>\Documents\ArcGIS\FeatureServiceLocalEdits.
TIP: The location of the Home folder can be easily changed through the Catalog Window Options Dialog.
The geodatabase will contain attachments and the original feature class- shortcoming averted!!
Step 4 (Optional).
Sometimes you may need to transfer the edits and the new features back to the “master geodatabase” which is the geodatabase that had initially been used to publish a feature service.
To synchronise the changes between a desktop geodatabase and the feature service in the “Cloud” you can consider using one of the following methods:
a. Append Tool. The tool’s documentation is available here: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.2/index.html#//001700000050000000
b. Load Data (or the Simple Data Loader), which may not be the best choice for data with attachments as the relationship class which links attachments to features will not allow the Simple Data Loader to do its job. For non-simple features use the Object Loader. Related documentation is available here: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.2/index.html#//003n0000003r000000
c. Copy and paste features in an edit session. The copy and paste workflow is described by the following technical article: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.2/index.html#//01m700000041000000
The second workflow allows you to not only export the data and the attachments that you collected in the field, but it also allows you to edit a local copy of the data and synchronise the changes with the Feature Service running on your ArcGIS Online for Organisations account.
Step 5 Optional.
After you’ve created a local copy of the data, you can go proceed with editing as usual. Once you’ve saved the edits, right click on the group layer (the feature service layer) in the table of contents and choose Edit Features > synchronise Edits with the Server
I hope the above workflows will help you easily get your data from the Cloud back to earth and use it in your editing and analysis workflows.
Oh, one more thing. Did you know that you can add your ArcGIS for Organisations account as an ArcGIS for Server connection in ArcMap? This little hidden gem could save you time and eliminate the necessity of getting your online data through a web browser.
The workflow is quite simple.
Step 1. Get the URL.
Log in to your ArcGIS Online for Organisations account and open properties of any of the feature services you’d published.
Step 2. Request a service URL
Scroll to layers and request a service URL
The Service URL will appear at the top of your page, in the address bar. It’s a REST URL and the first part of it will contain the URL of your ArcGIS Online for Organisations subscription (highlighted in yellow)
Step 3. Add an ArcGIS Server Connection.
Open ArcMap and in the Catalog Window scroll down until you see the GIS SERVERS category.
Expand the GIS SERVER folder and double click Add ArcGIS Server
Choose Use Services and enter the server’s URL and your ArcGIS Online username and password.
A new ArcGIS for Server connection will be added to ArcMap and you will see all the feature services and other datasets that have been published on your ArcGIS Online for Organisations account.
To use your data, simply drag and drop it to ArcMap’s main window.