The ArcPad Team Blog

Unofficial stuff from the team behind the World's leading mobile GIS platform

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012 Esri International User Conference ArcPad Presentation Survey

This year we would like to extend to you the opportunity to suggest what you would like to see at the presentations on ArcPad through out the Esri UC.

To participate in the survey please click here and fill out the details.

We look forward to reading your feedback and making this a great conference for you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Feature Associated Photographs in ArcPad

We have discussed the ArcPad Photo Layer and including stand-alone photographs in your data collection in a previous blog – now let’s take a closer look at including feature-associated photographs in ArcPad.

 There are many ways to include a photographic record of your assets as part of your data collection project. You can include a 'Photo Field' in your data that will contain the file name of the photograph associated to that particular record. You can also include a related table to contain the file names of multiple photographs associated to a single record. This blog will describe the workflows used to take the Photo Fields from your data into the field using an AXF file and to then incorporate these photographs from the field back into your project. This involves using the ArcPad Data Manager Toolbar in ArcGIS Desktop.

Incorporating Photographs into your ArcGIS for Desktop Workflow
When you define photo options in the any of three wizards (Get Data for ArcPad, Configure Project for Geoprocessing, or Author Project for ArcGIS Server), you will minimize the number of steps required to ensure that photos taken in the field, return to the desired location on your network.

The following diagram demonstrates where photographs are located during a typical workflow and how they are moved.

In order to use this recommended workflow for incorporating photos into your project, you must start by ensuring you have fields in your geodatabase to store a text string that will represent the photo path, and a location (local or network) where you intend to store and use your photos from. When photos are returned from the field you will then be able to use ArcGIS Desktop hyperlink tools to view your photos.

Stage 1 of the diagram above, represents the completion of one of the 'check-out' wizards. When you complete the wizard, the resultant AXF will know which fields can accept photographs and will contain the Photo Path, ready for use at check in time.
In each of the three wizards:
- Get Data for ArcPad
- Configure Project for Geoprocessing
- Author Project for Server will have the opportunity to nominate:
- Photo Field(s) for each feature layer
- a folder for pictures to be copied to during Check-In

If you define Photo Field(s) for a layer, only those fields will appear in the Fields drop-down on the Picture Page of the Feature Properties dialog in ArcPad. This can be useful to ensure your users only add photographs to the fields you nominate. Take care to ensure your field length is long enough to store the file name and full path.

If you define a folder for pictures to be copied to at check in, two key actions will occur at check in:
- Photographs will automatically be copied to that location
- Photo Path will automatically be pre-pended with the defined location.

NOTE: If you already have photos associated to features in your layer, a copy of these will NOT automatically be added to the check-out folder. If you wish to take them into the field, you can copy them manually to your check-out folder.

In the Field
In the field you can use either an integrated camera or separate camera to the data collection device to capture photographs associated to features. For ArcPad to be able to display the photographs in the field, they must be located in the same folder (on the same device) as the AXF. If a separate camera is used, you will need to copy them to the AXF location. Some examples of how to get photos in the same folder are:
- Use a Memory Card to copy photographs between devices
- Use a WiFi or Bluetooth connection to automatically send files between devices

The Picture Page
You can collect a photograph associated to a new or existing feature in your data using the Picture Page on the Feature Properties Dialog. If you are using a custom form, your Feature Properties dialog box may not show the Picture Page. Custom input forms can optionally hide the default pages of the Feature Properties dialog box, including the Picture page. You can add the Picture Page to your forms using ArcPad Studio.

The Picture Page is used to display the photo, or digital image file, that is associated with the selected feature. The file name of the digital image is stored in a field associated with the selected feature. A feature can have multiple photos associated with it, but each photo file name needs to be stored in a unique field.

The bulk of the page is dedicated to the preview of the photo, which is referenced by the file name stored in the field selected in the Field drop-down list. The preview is a display-only field.

Choose the field in which to store the file name of the photograph associated with the selected feature using the Field drop-down list. ArcPad automatically populates the Field drop-down list with field names that appear to be suitable for storing photo file names if a photo field(s) is/are not specified during check-out. To do this, ArcPad looks for any text field - in the Shapefile data table or in the ArcPad AXF file - that has a name containing the words photo, image, or picture. The text field also must to have a minimum length of 20 characters.

Tap the Rotate Icons to rotate the image 90 degrees to the left or right. The rotated image is stored in the image file. Processing image files requires considerable free memory to perform the computations. You need to ensure that there is sufficient free memory on your device for ArcPad to perform the image rotation. 

Tap the Camera Icon to open the Camera tool to capture a new photograph, using the camera specified on the Camera Tab of the ArcPad Options dialog box. The new photograph will be stored on your device and displayed in the Picture Field. The image file name for the new photograph will be stored in the field selected in the Field drop-down list. 

Tap the Folder Icon to navigate to and select an existing photo on your device to be associated with your feature.

The associated photo can be changed by either using the camera button to open the Camera Tool for capturing a new photo or by using the Folder Icon to choose an existing photo on your device.
Returning Data and Photographs to your Desktop or Network
To check-in field data, you must still first copy the data (AXF and photographs) to a temporary location on your desktop or network. If you have been capturing photos on a separate device, and only entering the file name into the feature attribute in ArcPad, you can copy the photos from your camera directly to the temporary folder (In the diagram, this workflow is represented by the dotted line).

The Get Data for ArcPad wizard will automatically copy any photos found in the temporary ArcPad project folder, to the folder nominated during check in. If no folder was nominated, no photos will be copied.

I hope you are encouraged to incorporate photographs into your ArcPad Projects. Photographs can be a very useful tool in field data capture and photo support is a key feature in out-of-the-box ArcPad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New ArcPad group

Hi everyone,

we have recently migrated our tools to and have a new group page - CLICK HERE

You now have greater ability to search for ArcPad content (as long as you tag it appropriately).

Be sure to bookmark the page so you can find see any new samples. Oh and remember to comment, suggest new ideas and to publish your cool content too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ArcPad Photo Layer

A picture says a thousand words and including photographs into your ArcPad Project is a great way to enrich your data. With built-in cameras becoming a standard feature for many mobile devices, taking photographs is easier than ever before. There are many ways to incorporate photographs into your ArcPad Project, such as standalone or feature-associated photographs, taken with built-in or external camera hardware, with or without a GPS.

Today's Blog will focus on Cameras and Photo Layers - next week we will be looking at associating photographs with features and some example workflows using photographs in ArcPad. 

External Cameras
ArcPad can use either the camera that is built-in to your mobile device or an external camera. If you are using an external camera, there are two different methods of bringing your photographs into your ArcPad Project. The first is for GPS enabled cameras which have GPS coordinates embedded in the EXIF header of the image. These photographs can be displayed directly on the ArcPad map as a Photo Layer. There is also software available which can insert GPS coordinates into the EXIF header of photographs taken on a camera that is NOT GPS enabled. This is typically done by matching the time and date of the photo with the time and date of positions captured by a streaming GPS, such as the ArcPad Tracklog. 

Camera Settings (ArcPad Options)
The Camera Tab on the ArcPad Options Dialog is where you set the following options:

Camera: Choose the camera to be used by ArcPad. The chosen camera and camera settings are used in the following places:
- The Camera Tools in the QuickCapture Toolbar
- The Camera Tool on the Picture Tab of the Feature Properties dialog box
Only cameras that are supported on the device are listed in the Camera drop-down list. By default, the ArcPad Camera is selected. 

Picture Quality: Use the slider to specify the picture quality for the photo (JPEG) image file. The range of the picture quality is from 50% to 100%. The default is 75%.

Default Pictures Path: Browse to specify the default folder for saving standalone photographs, i.e. photos that are taken using the stand-alone camera tool on the QuickCapture Toolbar. Photos taken using the Camera tool on the Pictures tab of the Feature Properties dialog box are automatically saved in the same folder as the associated shapefile or AXF. The default is \My Documents\My Pictures folder. 

NOTE: If you take a standalone photograph in ArcPad without a Photo Layer in your map, ArcPad will use the Default Folder Path to store photographs and the ArcPad.aph file created by default.

Filename Prefix: Enter the prefix to use for the file name of the photo captured with the Camera tool on the QuickCapture toolbar. The file names for photos captured with the Camera tool on the Picture tab of the Feature Properties dialog box use the selected field name for the prefix. The default prefix is 'Photo'. 

Button: Choose the button (on Windows Mobile and Windows CE devices) or function key (on PCs) to be used as a shortcut for starting the stand-alone Camera tool. This field includes a key-watcher to make it easier for you to find the name of your function keys/buttons by ‘watching’ to see which key/button you choose when the field is selected.

Date/Time in Filename: When checked, the file name for any photo taken consists of the date and time added to the prefix (for stand-alone photos) or field name (for photos associated with a feature), using the following conventions: Prefix_YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS.jpg FIELDNAME_YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS.jpg When unchecked, the file name for the photo is Prefix_nnnn.jpg or FIELDNAME_nnnn.jpg, where “nnnn” is a sequential unique number. 

Using an ArcPad Photo Layer
An ArcPad Photo Layer is a file that references photos with GPS coordinates in the EXIF header of each photo file. The Photo Layer file, which has an .aph extension, specifies how the photo layer should be displayed in ArcPad. ArcPad reads the GPS coordinates in the EXIF header, and automatically projects the latitude and longitude coordinates into the projection of the current ArcPad map.

A new Photo Layer can be created using the ‘New’ menu. ArcPad will also create an ArcPad.aph file in the nominated Pictures Folder by default if you begin to take standalone photographs in your project without a Photo Layer. 

The Identify and Hyperlink tools can be used with the Photo Layer. The Identify tool displays the photo’s attributes, or EXIF information, in the Feature Information dialog box. The Hyperlink tool displays the photo, using the external application associated with JPEG files.

Photo Layer Symbol and Label Settings
By default, a Photo Layer will be symbolised using a camera icon and labelled using the photo file name. The ArcPad Photo Layer is an XML file and can be edited in any text editor (eg. Notepad).

 <PHOTOLAYER title="Photos">
<FILEFILTER filter="*.jpg"/>
<TEXT visible="true"/>

To set the symbol, use <SYMBOL>  tags to describe any of the following symbol types:
See the Customising ArcPad Help for more information on symbol properties.

To label the symbol with the name of the photo file, use use <TEXT visible="true|false"/>.
NOTE: This method can also be used to control the visibility of the symbol .

For example, if I wanted to use a blue diamond symbol and label my photo points, I would modify my Photos.aph file in Notepad to read as follows:

 <PHOTOLAYER title="Photos">
<FILEFILTER filter="*.jpg"/>
<SYMBOL visible="true">
<SIMPLEMARKERSYMBOL angle="30" color="0,92,230" outline="255,0,0" outlinetype="solid" outlinewidth="0.75" type="diamond" width="8"/>
<TEXT visible="true"/>

Adding a Photograph to the Photo Layer in ArcPad
In ArcPad, the Photo Layer Camera Tools are located on the far left-hand side of the QuickCapture Toolbar. These Camera tools are used to take standalone photographs, that is, photos which are captured in a Photo Layer and not associated with a feature. You can choose to take a photo that has embedded GPS coordinates, or a photo that you manually place on your map using a pen touch.

To take a photograph that will include embedded GPS coordinates (from a connected GPS) tap the GPS Camera Tool on the QuickCapture Toolbar when the GPS is active.

To take a photograph that will be manually placed on the map, tap the Capture Photo Point Tool on the QuickCapture Toolbar. Then tap on the map at the location where the photo corresponds to.

In both of the cases described above, once the photograph is captured, the default Photo Layer will automatically (if not already present) be added to your map, and the photo location displayed.

When activated, each of the Camera Tools will open the same dialog box for interacting with your digital camera and for taking the photos. The Camera Dialog Box will vary according to the camera driver selected in ArcPad Options, but its properties may include camera orientation settings and photograph size and resolution.

Export Photo Layer to Shapefile
Be sure to check out this previous blog post to see how to export your Photo Layer to a Shapefile.

I hope this encourages you all to see the potential for including Photo Layers in your existing ArcPad projects and that you will consider using Photo Layers in any new projects.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Repeat Attributes Tool

The irony of having repeated questions about the Repeat Attributes function on the ArcPad Forums has not been lost on the ArcPad Team – so let’s take an in-depth look at the mysterious green arrow at the bottom of your Edit Forms…

Where have I seen this symbol before?
 In ArcPad 7 and 8 the Repeat Attributes Tool was on the Edit Toolbar as default. It has moved to the Edit Form in ArcPad 10. You can still add the Repeat Attributes Tool to any Toolbar using the Toolbar Editor or add it to your Favorites Toolbar.

How does it work?
After you have entered attribute data into the Edit Form for any layer, select Repeat Attributes to enter the same data into subsequent features collected in that layer automatically. Repeat Attributes can be used on any editable feature type.

Example 1 – The Basics:
If you are collecting multiple features with the same attribute data, using Repeat Attributes allows you to speed up your data collection by populating the Edit Form using the information used for the previous feature. The following workflow can be used for fast and accurate data collection when all of the points collected have the same attribute data:
  • Collect a Feature
  • Fill out the Edit Form
  • Select Repeat Attributes
  • Collect another Feature
The Edit Form for the Second Feature has already been populated with the data from the First Feature. This method is great if the majority of your attribute data is the same across features. By having your Edit Form already populated, you only need to edit the feature-specific data (eg. unique identifier, time values).
Example 2 – The Next Steps:
If the data you are collecting has exactly the same attribute values, you may not want or need to see the Edit Form at all. If you open the Table of Contents you can disable the Edit Forms for any layer by un-checking the box under the Edit Form symbol.
  • Collect a Feature
  • Fill out the Edit Form
  • Select Repeat Attributes
  • Disable Edit Form
  • Collect another Feature
This allows for rapid data collection as features can be collected with one tap (Pen or GPS input).

NOTE: If a layer has required fields, the edit form cannot be disabled.

Example 3 - Using Categories

If you are using the QuickCapture Toolbar to collect data - each one of the QuickCapture categories is able to have it's own repeated attributes. This is because each category is treated as a feature class and as such has it's own edit form. By spending a few minutes to set up your categories, this can make your data collection faster, easier and more consistent. The following example is using a QuickProject, but you can use this technique for rapid collection of any data that has been symbolized by category in ArcGIS Desktop before check-out.

I hope this has shed some light on the Repeat Attributes Tool and inspired you to try it for yourself!