New Course: Mobile GIS data collection apps

Learn how to develop your own HTML5 GPS data collection applications that work like a native app on your mobile device.  While there are many canned options available for mobile data collection that may meet your needs, there are also many times when it may make sense to develop your own for the following reasons.

  1. Cost – Even if your needs are simple many commercial applications require monthly per-user subscriptions, often in the neighborhood of $30-$50 per month. For 1 or 2 users that may not be much but with 20 or more users it quickly becomes cost effective to write your own.
  2. Customizability – Commercial “non-programming” solutions tend to be one-size fits all. Although they may have some flexibility, it is not uncommon for many applications to need functionality that is not available.  Writing your own mean that if you can envision it you can implement it. Often you can implement it faster than you could in a “non-programming” solution even if it is available. Do you need to automatically create a buffer when a point is created? Do you have complex data validation rules that need to be followed? Do you need to generate an email to notify a project manager when a new feature is created? Do you want to see a history of previous inspection reports at a certain site? Do you need to generate your own id values? Do you need to have the options available for one field be dependent on the option selected in another field?  Most data collection projects seem siple at the offset but in my experience most also have their own peculiarities that often justify customization. You may be able to get by with a one-size fits all “non-programming” solution but “getting by” usually means a lot of extra work in the QC process that can quickly become more expensive than a custom written app that would avoid all of that.
  3. Real-time data access – The techniques taught in this course access a PostGIS database directly so that any changes that are made are available immediately to any other client applications whether they be desktop GIS like ArcGIS or QGIS, other web applications, or other client software such as a spreadsheet program, etc.  This also means that there is no time wasted transferring data from device to server, etc which may save hundreds or even thousands of man hours in large data gathering efforts and avoid a large source of errors.

HTML5 web applications also have some downsides for this type of work and these are discussed in the course and potential solutions are also addressed.  The biggest downside is that HTML web applications stop collecting locations when the application is not active. This means that you will generally have to have to have your app running and in front of you until you are done collecting the geometry of a feature.

This is not a beginner course. It builds on information covered in my previous 5 courses on web GIS development. In particular you will need to be familiar with the material in my course  “Mobile GIS and mapping applications” ($15 until the end of August) which discusses formatting for small screens, working off-line and other mobile specific topics.  This project also uses my “PHP registration, log-in, and content management system” so it will be beneficial to understand the material in that course, and I also use some of the code developed in “Server side web GIS applications” for interacting with the PostGIS database.

To purchase this course (~$25 USD) or learn more information please go to Udemy.com

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