When field operations take you outside of internet of cellular networks, take your data with you!
Offline maps let users view, collect, and update features in a disconnected environment using Collector for ArcGIS on a mobile device. Once internet connection is re-established, synchronize your map and send your data updates back to your centralized GIS database.
To take a map offline in a disconnected environment, all of the web map layers must be enabled for offline use. This includes the basemap (Esri basemaps are automatically enabled for offline use). So, how can offline capabilities be enabled?
- Cached map services with Export tiles enabled (ArcGIS 10.3 for Server or later) – check the Allow clients to export cache tiles box in the Advanced Settings
- Feature services (ArcGIS for Server 10.3 or later) – choose the Query and Sync options. To make data editable, choose any combination of Create, Delete, or Update
- Hosted feature layers – check the Enable Sync box on the Settings tab of the item page
- Hosted tile layers – check the Enable offline mode box on the Settings tab of the item page
Don’t forget to enable the web map for offline use – check the Enable offline mode box under Offline Mode in the item page settings. Meeting these criteria will allow your web map to be taken offline using Collector.
Not all layers in an offline web map should be editable, and this can include tax parcel and road centerline layers. Two services with offline capabilities will need to be published separately, and the layers added to a web map you want to take offline. Make sure the service containing the non-editable layers does not have Create, Delete, or Update enabled.
There are two ways to take data offline: by using archive-enabled non-versioned data, or by using versioned data.
Additional notes and limitations
- Global IDs must be added to any dataset for offline use
- Feature service cannot contain versioned and non-versioned data
- ArcGIS for Server 10.2.2 requires enabling Query, Sync, Add, Edit, and Delete. Ability to disable editing on a layer must be controlled at the web map level.
If you are taking data that is updated in a nightly process, such as tax downloads, consider creating a tiled map service and enabling the Export cache tiles locally option, or create a tile package and side-load it onto your device.
If you want to take your nightly-updated tax parcel data offline, consider enabling archiving on the dataset and enabling Sync and Query in a feature service published specifically for taking reference data offline. Set up a scheduled task that cleans up the unwanted features archived in the dataset you’re editing in the field.
First and foremost, choosing which data is necessary in a disconnected environment is key. Ask yourself if having extra reference layers are required or just a nice thing to have on the rare occasion they are needed. The answer to this question may save you a lot of time, money, and tedious effort. Here are some additional questions worth asking:
- What version of ArcGIS for Server are you running?
- What data is essential to competing my work in a disconnected environment?
- Is any of this data updated in a scheduled process?
- How big is your data?
- Does this data have Global IDs?
- Are there any related tables or feature attachments? What keys are used in relationship classes?
The ArcGIS platform is designed to take your data offline on any device, anywhere, at any time. Contact Pro-West at 320-207-6868 or email@example.com for help preparing your maps for offline use in the field. Additional information may be found in Esri’s product documentation:
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