ArcGIS Collector De-Sync Issue and Solution / by Robert Walker

Collector for ArcGIS (Collector) is amazing for spatial data collection and is extremely easy to use.  Paired with a mapping-grade Bluetooth GPS and it's even better.  In-fact Collector is so good that over the course of just a few hours we collected more than 200 data points and existing data point edits.  This was great... until we had a de-sync error occur when a field device had over 200 collected features and edits on it!  

HarryPotterPanic.gif

How did this happen?

There was a mis-communication between our field staff and ArcGIS administrator.  The field staff had not synchronized the edits yet and was having a different technical issue (unable to log in).  The Admin thought they couldn't sync and thought resetting the sync option on the feature layer would fix it.  Whoops!  This actually caused Collector to have the wrong GUID for synchronizing and therefore wouldn't be able to.

Solution

Fortunately - nothing was lost!  The edits are still on the mobile device - they just can't be synchronized to the online feature service.  Surprisingly, it was actually very simple to download the data from the device and develop a workflow to integrate the data backing into the feature service manually.

I found this Geonet article from a 2014 in which Russel Roberts provided a simple workflow to download data from a device.  I confirmed this workflow with Esri was still the best way to get the data from the device into a usable format:

iPhone/iPad:

  1. Plug the iPad into the computer
  2. Launch iTunes
  3. Once the device syncs go to the Apps section for the synced device then scroll down on that page and you will see File Sharing with Apps and Documents section.
  4. Click on the Collector app and click on the folder and you want to pick the folder with user name and replica ID on it and click Save To.
  5. Inside that folder there is another folder with the web map ID which you will see matches the the web map ID in the URL for the map in your org.
  6. Copy the .geodatabase files.
  7. Convert the runtime geodatabase (.geodatabase) files to a file geodatabase using the Copy Runtime Geodatabase to File Geodatabse geoprocessing tool.

Android:

  1. Plug the device into the computer
  2. Set the device settings so that you can see the files/folders on the device (varies from device to device)
  3. Browse to the ArcGIS_Collector folder
  4. Browse to the user's folder for which the Collector data is shared with
  5. Find the folder with the web map ID which you will see matches the the web map ID in the URL for the map in your org.
  6. Copy the .geodatabase files.
  7. Convert the runtime geodatabase (.geodatabase) files to a file geodatabase using the Copy Runtime Geodatabase to File Geodatabse geoprocessing tool.

Now, depending on your particular circumstances, the workflow for integrating the Collector data back into the "main" feature service will vary.  We were fortunate that we only had one device and the error was caught quickly enough that we could just overwrite the feature service online with the data downloaded from the mobile device.  However, if you have several people collecting together or desktop and field edits happening coincidentally, then you will need a more robust workflow to integrate the edits correctly.

Lessons Learned/Conclusion

  • Make sure the admin is getting all of the information and understands the full technical difficulty prior to changing a feature service.  In our case, a simple logout-login would have solved the original issue.
  • Don't de-synchronize unless you're certain that everything from the mobile devices has been uploaded.  De-synchronizing a feature service should be your last resort.
  • If you do have de-synchronization - all is not lost!  It just might be a headache to merge the changes back into the AGOL feature service.

Hopefully this is helpful and will keep you from having the same (brief) panic.