ArcGIS Survey123

What's new in Survey123 for ArcGIS (June 2019 Update)

We are happy to announce that Survey123 version 3.5 is now available. It comes loaded with many new features, handy enhancements and a ton of quality fixes. 3.5 makes location-aware smart forms in ArcGIS more robust than ever before!


Survey123 Feature Reports

Many of you are already familiar with the Survey123 Feature Report capability, which we have had in Beta for quite some time. With this update, the Survey123 Feature Report service is officially released. It is fully supported by Esri Technical Support and it is here to stay.

The Feature Report service will help you generate beautiful reports of your Survey123 records. You can define the report contents and look and feel to match legal documents or the branding guidelines of your organization.  The Feature Report functionality can be triggered from the Data tab of the Survey123 website as shown below. You can create reports for a single selected record, or in bulk, for a larger selection set.


Create reports from the Survey123 website


You can control the layout, contents and look and feel of your output reports through report templates. You can add headers, footers, tables and format the text  in your template as you like. The best of all is that you can create these templates using a tool that is likely familiar to you: Microsoft Word.

Feature Report Templates include placeholders to bring responses from your survey record into the report. This includes text, dates, numbers, choices and checklists, photos, annotated images, signatures and of course, maps!  The syntax to bring data from your survey into a template is described in our Feature report templates help topic.

As of today, and until the next release of ArcGIS Online (planned for October 2019), you can generate as many reports as you want for free. Starting October 2019, feature report generation will consume 2.5 credits per report file generated.

One final note for ArcGIS Enterprise users: The Survey123 Feature report service is designed to work and is fully supported with surveys and data hosted in ArcGIS Online. However you can also take advantage of this service with surveys hosted in ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5 or newer, with some limitations:

Bearing the limitations above, ArcGIS Enterprise users can leverage the ArcGIS Online Feature Report service at no additional cost. That is, usage of the report service from ArcGIS Enerprise will not incur ArcGIS Online credit costs.

Web surveys: Survey open, survey closed!

Up until this update, if you wanted to disable access to a public survey,  you would simply unshare it. In this way, people could not longer submit data to your survey, but you could still view and analyze its results. The challenge with unsharing a survey is that when attempting to open your survey users would get a generic dialog asking for a user and password, and that is the last thing someone would expect.

You can now configure a “Survey closed” dialog and define when to show it. In the ‘Survey closed” dialog you can add your own text, images and links describing to survey takers why survey responses are not being accepted. Through the Collaborate tab, you can also define the exact time when the survey will be closed or open.  For example, you can design and publish a survey today, schedule it to start accepting responses in November 1, 2019 and stop accepting responses in December 13, 2019.

Survey open, survey closed

This feature is currently only supported for web surveys. The Survey123 mobile app will not honor the “Survey closed” custom dialog until a later release.

Web surveys: Avoid multiple submissions

This new feature is also built with web surveys in mind. The idea here is to prevent users from submitting a survey multiple times from a web browser.  By default, users can submit data to your web survey as many times as they like, but you can now configure your survey to limit submissions to one. This is done through the Collaborate tab as well.

For clarity, the way this works is not bullet proof for public surveys.  If working with a public web survey, this setting will persist a cookie in the user’s web browser. If the cookie is present, the user will not be able to submit again. A smart user can delete the cookie by clearing the browser’s cache or run an incognito session in the browser.  Also, for public surveys, we can’t really do anything if one person submits from different devices (a phone, a desktop computer in the office, a laptop at home).

Already taken survey

If you really want to confidently block multiple submissions from the same user, the best option is to secure your survey to force users to identify themselves.  At that point, we can more consistently block multiple submissions.

Working with related records (repeats) in the Survey123 website Data view

Through the Data view in the Survey123 website you can interactively inspect all submitted records as a map, table and a form.  In this release, the table view and map views have been enhanced so you can navigate to related records in the table view and display or hide related records in the map. You can also apply filters to the table view.

Related tables

In the example above, we have a Zika Household survey example. At each household, we have one or more household members and for each of them we document all trips they did in the past 4 weeks. The member households and travel locations are modeled in the smart form as a nested repeat, and in the feature service relational model as two nested related tables. Look carefully at the table view and you will see that each of these layers/tables is shown in an independent tab. You can switch between the tabs, look at the data, apply filters and select records. This gives you much more flexibility to explore your survey data.

Survey owner? Double-click to edit (Survey123 website)

One more enhancement on the Survey123 website Data tab: Double click on a cell in the table view… and voila, now you can edit the value.You can even edit related records. This function is only available to survey owners.

Edit rows

Photo Watermarking (Connect & Field App)

Over time we have received a number of requests to add watermarking capabilities into the Survey123 field app. This is important in some field data collection workflows; for example when performing certain damage assessments, documenting work performed or inspecting assets.

The basic idea is to burn some critical information into the photo while it is taken from the device. Information such as the current date and time, the compass direction or the latitude and longitude. We have extended the XLSForm syntax so you can do all of this and much more.

In the example below we have a watermarked photo taken from a street service report survey. Note how the photo includes in the bottom-left corner the unique identifier of the job as set in the survey and in the bottom-right corner the date and time when the photo was taken.

You can control almost anything you want in these watermarks: the position, color, font, halo effects and of course the content, which can be dynamically calculated or retrieved from the form itself. You can even use a logo in your watermark expressions!

The Watermarks help topic describes in more detail the exact syntax you will want to use for your custom watermarks. We also added a new XLSForm sample in Survey123 Connect that you can use to learn the most basic techniques.


Grid Theme (Connect & Field App)

Grid theme has been a long awaited feature, so we are really proud of announcing it today. Using grid theme you can control the layout of your survey to arrange multiple questions in a single row. This is important when you want to make your surveys more closely resemble paper forms, and when you want to take advantage of the wider screen of a tablet or desktop computer.  Using grid themes wisely can help you create more usable and compact forms.

Below is an example of a Certificate of Roadworthiness. No kidding, that word actually exists, you can google it.  Note how the form includes multiple sections: A first section at the top for the Tester’s License Number, where we arranged a single question all the way to the right. Then a second section for the main title, with a single note centered in the screen. In section A (vehicle description) where we place questions, notes and even a signature pad side by side.

Grid theme

When taking advantage of grid themes, you will want to test thoroughly in your own field devices. A form with the layout shown above, for example, will work well on a tablet, but not on a smartphone.  Combining grid themes and multiple pages in your form is a really powerful combination too.  Grid themes and pages are worth their own blog post, so wait for one coming up soon. If you cannot wait, check our Appearance help topic for details on the XLSForm syntax, or the newly added sample in Survey123 Connect.

As of this release, grid themes are only supported in the field app, but we are working towards bringing them into the web as well.

Other miscellaneous topics (Connect & Field App)

You are going to find many other enhancements throughout Survey123 Connect and the field app in this release.  I simply want to highlight a handful, although you can find the complete list in our What’s New help topic.

Connect Preview
Inline errors

Critical Fixes and Enhancements

There are a lot of new new features in this release, but in truth our biggest commitment for this update has been quality.  If you have been testing Survey123 through our Early Adopter Program you will recognize that many of the features we make official today had been on the works for quite some time. Our 3.5 release has been for the most part, devoted to fixing issues and applying some popular enhancements.

We want to thank all of you who have worked with us to validate many of these fixes over the past 10 weeks.  Here is a list of the most important bugs addressed.

Survey123 website and web app


Survey123 Connect and field app


Next steps

We are now furiously working on 3.6. Join our Survey123 Early Adopter Program to test some of the new features we are working on, including:

For developers customizing or branding the Survey123 field app, we will be making version 3.5 available with AppStudio for ArcGIS 4.0 Beta in the next weeks.

About the author

Ismael Chivite joined Esri in 2002. A geographer by training, he loves helping people leverage GIS to improve the way they work. As a Senior Product Manager, Ismael is always looking for ideas to create new and improve existing Esri products. Outside working hours: Legos, rock climbing, Romanesque architecture and jamon iberico. On occasion, he enjoys jamon during working hours too.


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