Create the whale survey

First, you'll develop a whale monitoring survey using ArcGIS Survey123. This survey will collect information about whale sightings in an easy-to-use, multilingual form that Bahía Ballena locals can access from their phones. You can create surveys either with an online web designer or ArcGIS Survey123 Connect, a program on your computer. While the web designer's simple user experience can create surveys more quickly, Survey123 Connect has more sophisticated survey options. To provide multilingual functionality for the primarily Spanish-speaking Bahía Ballena community, you'll author your survey form in Survey123 Connect.

Download ArcGIS Survey123 Connect

First, you'll download and install ArcGIS Survey123 Connect. If you already have this program installed on your computer, you can skip this section.

  1. Go to the ArcGIS Survey123 website.

    To create forms in Survey123 Connect, you need an ArcGIS organizational account with publishing permissions. If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  2. Sign in using your ArcGIS Online organizational account.

    Once you sign in, the Survey123 website displays a gallery page with surveys created by you or other members of your organization. If this is your first time using Survey123, your gallery may be empty.

  3. Click New Survey.

    The New Survey window appears. In this window, you'll choose whether to use the web designer or Survey123 Connect.

  4. Under Using Survey123 Connect, click Get Started.

    Get Started button


    To learn how to create a survey using the web designer, see Get Started with ArcGIS Survey123.

    A window appears illustrating the workflow to create a survey. This workflow involves downloading Survey123 Connect, designing your survey using an XLSForm spreadsheet, and publishing your survey to ArcGIS Survey123.

  5. Click Download Survey123 Connect (Windows | Mac | Linux).

    Download Survey123 Connect

    A window opens showing various resources associated with Survey123.

  6. Under Survey123 Connect desktop app, click the appropriate download for your operating system.

    Depending on your web browser, you may be prompted to choose the file's location before you begin the download. Most browsers download to your computer's Downloads folder by default.

  7. When the download is complete, browse to the location where the downloaded file was saved. Double-click the Survey123Connect.exe file.

    Depending on your operating system, a window may ask you to confirm whether you want to run the file.

  8. If necessary, click Run.

    The ArcGIS Survey123 Connect Setup wizard opens. Follow the instructions in the wizard to install the program.

  9. When the installation is complete, click Finish.

Start building your survey

Next, you'll start building the whale survey. When creating a survey, you can start from scratch or you can modify an existing survey. For the purposes of these lessons, you'll modify an existing survey. To learn how to create a survey from scratch, see Survey Customers to Gain Marketing Insight.

  1. Download the Whale_Survey compressed folder.

    This folder contains several data sources you'll need to complete this lesson, including the survey form that you'll modify.

  2. Locate the downloaded file on your computer.

    Depending on your web browser, you may have been prompted to choose the file's location before you began the download. Most browsers download to your computer's Downloads folder by default.

  3. Right-click the file and extract it to a location you can find easily, such as your Documents folder.
  4. Open the unzipped folder and, if necessary, open the Whale_Survey folder.

    The folder contains a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet titled Whale_Template.xlsx, a thumbnail image titled Survey123_Thumbnail.png, and two more compressed folders that contain additional survey data and park boundaries. You'll use the compressed folders when you map and analyze your survey data.

  5. Open ArcGIS Survey123 Connect. Click the menu button and click Sign in.

    Menu button in the Survey123 Connect desktop app

  6. Sign in using your ArcGIS organizational account.
  7. Click New Survey.

    The New Survey window appears. The window provides options to name the survey and choose either an Advanced or Standard design template. The advanced template provides significantly more options for customizing your survey. The standard template includes only those features that are supported in the Survey123 field app and web app. You won't use either template because you'll modify an existing survey instead.

  8. For Title, type Whale Monitoring.
  9. For Select an initial XLSForm design, choose File.

    New Survey window parameters

    Next, you'll choose the file for the survey form that you downloaded.

  10. For XLSForm file, click Select.
  11. Browse to the location where you saved the Whale_Template spreadsheet. Choose it and click Open.
  12. In the New Survey window, click Create Survey.

    After a few moments, the Whale_Template.xlsx file is converted into a survey form. When the conversion is complete, a form preview of the survey appears in the ArcGIS Survey123 Connect window. Additionally, the spreadsheet opens in Excel or your preferred spreadsheet application. Next, you'll compare the spreadsheet to the form preview.


    To edit the spreadsheet, you may need to click Enable Editing.

  13. Position the spreadsheet and form preview next to each other. Compare how the spreadsheet organizes and structures the survey questions to how the form preview formats and presents the survey content.

    Form preview and spreadsheet comparison

    The values in the label column of the spreadsheet correspond to the question titles in the form preview. Whale_Template.xlsx contains four worksheets, indicated by the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

    Four worksheet tabs

    • The survey worksheet is where you add the questions and customization for the survey.
    • The choices worksheet is where you define the potential responses to the questions in the survey. The first time you click this tab, the page contains default examples of how the page works. Entries on this page are the connection between the questions on the survey page and the potential responses that require more than one option.
    • The settings worksheet is where you change the title, ID, and submission URL of the survey.
    • The types worksheet is where you can find a reference guide to various types and features you can add to your survey.

    You're currently on the survey worksheet. It consists of two sections—a left section (Columns A, B, and C) and a right section (all other columns). The first column in the left section, type, defines the question format. Question types can range from multiple choice to a signature form. The name column defines a unique field name, while the label column defines the question text that appears in the survey. These three parameters are mandatory for each question.

    The section on the right contains many more parameters to format questions, add logical expressions, set optional languages, and so on. Most of these parameters are optional or dependent on the certain types of questions.

    Next, you'll review the choices worksheet.

  14. At the bottom of the spreadsheet, click the choices tab and compare the question choices to the form preview.

    Comparison of survey choices

    In the choices worksheet, each row represents an answer choice. Answer choices with the same list_name field are part of a related set of choices and appear together for a question. As before, the label column determines the text that appears in the form preview for each answer choice.


    To learn more about the structure of the XLSForm, see XLSForm essentials.

  15. When you're done reviewing the choices worksheet, return to the survey worksheet.

Group questions

The Whale Monitoring.xlsx file that you've been provided with for this lesson is almost complete. You only need to add a few final components. First, you'll group related questions into appropriate categories.

While reviewing the form preview, you may have noticed that the topics of survey questions vary from species sightings to weather conditions. In the current survey form, the questions appear as one long list. It would be useful to create two question groups. One group for questions related to sighting details and one group for questions related to the tour that made the sighting. To group questions, you'll modify the type column in the survey worksheet.

  1. In the survey worksheet, in the third row of the type column, click the cell and choose begin group.

    Begin group option

    The cell is now marked as the beginning of a group of questions. Later, you'll end the group. But first, you'll give the group a name and format the name using HTML code.

  2. In the third row of the name column, type sighting_details.

    Next, you'll add a label. Rather than use the default label format, you'll emphasize the group name by formatting it differently than the question names. You'll use HTML code to center the label in the survey (you can also change the color, size, and font).

  3. In the label column, type <center>Sighting Details</center>.

    Name and label of new group

    Next, you'll add a cell to mark the end of the group. The questions in rows 4 through 12 relate to marine life sightings, so you'll end the group after those questions.

  4. In row 13 of the type column, click the cell and choose end group.

    End group option

    You don't need to add a name or label to the end of the group, so your group is complete. You'll look at the group in the form preview to confirm it was formatted correctly.


    The Whale Monitoring.xlsx contains additional text that will be used when the resultant survey is completed on a device where the default language is set to Spanish. To facilitate using multiple languages, additional columns with labels in Spanish have been added. These must now include a language description, followed by a locale code in parentheses. This is intended for languages with multiple names or language descriptions, Spanish for example has two, 'Spanish' and 'Castilian'. XLSForm Multiple Language Support

  5. In the survey tab, update the column title label::es to label::Español (es).
    Update label and hint
  6. Update the label hint::es to hint::Español (es).
  7. In the choices tab, update the label label::es to label::Español (es).
  8. Save your Whale Monitoring.xlsx file.

    When you save, the form preview updates automatically.

  9. Switch to the form preview and confirm that the questions located in rows 4 through 12 of the worksheet are grouped together under the centered title Sighting Details.
  10. To the left of the Sighting Details label, toggle the arrow to collapse the grouped questions.

    Form preview of the Sighting Details group

    The group is formatted correctly and functions properly. Next, you'll add a second group that includes all questions related to the tour, such as the captain's name and weather conditions. This group will begin at row 15 and end at row 23.

  11. In row 15 of the survey worksheet, add the following information:
    • type: begin group
    • name: tour_information
    • label: <center>Tour Information</center>
  12. In row 23 of the type column, choose end group.
  13. Save your spreadsheet and preview the survey to confirm the group was added and formatted correctly.

Test multilingual functionality

Tour operators and boat captains in Bahía Ballena are native Spanish speakers, so it's vital to have the survey form available in Spanish. Most of the Spanish language labels are already included in the spreadsheet. You'll add any missing labels and test the survey's multilingual capabilities.

  1. In the survey worksheet of the Whale Monitoring.xlsx file, scroll to the column titled label::Español (es) (column P).

    The column name identifies the language. In this case, es is the ISO 639-1 code for Spanish. You can add as many language columns as you want. If additional languages are added, each language must be notated using its own ISO language code. You can also add translations to hints, constraint messages, and even images.

  2. Compare the label::Español (es) column to the label column.

    Spanish labels

    The survey description and the question names have already been translated into Spanish. However, the groups you created do not have Spanish language labels.

  3. In row 3 of the label::Español (es) column, type <center>Detalles sobre el avistamiento</center>.

    Group label in Spanish

  4. In row 15 of the label::Español (es) column, type <center>Información del Tour</center>.

    Next, you'll test the language switcher in the form preview.

  5. Save the spreadsheet and switch to the form preview.
  6. Click the menu button (three horizontal lines) to the right of the survey title and choose Español.

    Spanish language switcher

    The survey switches to the Spanish language.

    Survey in the Spanish language

    The default language is determined by your device's location settings. For the tour guides and boat captains in Bahía Ballena, the survey will be displayed in Spanish automatically. Similar to how questions are translated in the survey XLSForm worksheet, answer choices can also be translated.

  7. In the spreadsheet, switch to the choices worksheet.

    Most of the choices have values for the label::Español (es) column. However, some do not.

  8. Locate the entries with list_name values of guide_captain and departure_loc.

    Spanish guide and departure information.

    The only translation provided for either of these sets of choices is for Other, which in Spanish is Otro. The other choices aren't translated because they refer to proper nouns. For all the other sets of choices, proper translations are already included.

Set default date and time values

It's useful to have some survey details prepopulate to save time and ensure uniformity. Most devices contain settings for date and time, so these fields can usually be filled in automatically. Next, you'll set default answers for date and time survey questions so that tour guides and boat captains won't have to spend time answering them. You'll find the values needed to set these default answers in the types worksheet.

  1. In the Whale Monitoring.xlsx file, switch to the types worksheet.

    The types worksheet is a glossary of properties and operators that can be used within your form.

  2. Scroll down to the Default Values section.

    Default Values section of types worksheet

    The default value today() sets the default date to the current date, based on the settings in the user's device. You'll use this value in your survey.

  3. Switch to the survey worksheet.

    The fourth row of the worksheet contains a question about the date.

  4. Scroll to the default column (column J). In row 4, type today().

    Default value for date question

    The column next to the default column is the readonly column. The date question contains the value yes, which indicates that users will not be able to modify the answer. Because the answer will be automatically populated, this setting prevents users from accidentally changing the date.

  5. Save the spreadsheet.
  6. In the form preview, confirm that the date is automatically populated and that you cannot alter it.

    Date in English


    Every time the form preview is updated (which happens whenever you save the spreadsheet), the language switches back to the default language.

  7. Switch the survey language to Spanish.

    The date is automatically translated to the correct language.

    Date in Spanish

    Next, you'll change the question for the hour of sighting to also populate automatically. Instead of the today() value, you'll use a similar value called now(). This question is in row 5 of the spreadsheet.

  8. Return to the spreadsheet. In row 5, in the default column, type now().

    Default value for the hour-of-sighting question

  9. Save the spreadsheet. In the form preview, confirm that the hour of sighting is automatically populated.

    Hour of sighting default value

Set a relevant question

Your whale survey is focused primarily on cetaceans (whales and dolphins). However, the current survey form also contains questions about turtles. It's useful to track sightings of turtles, but the primary focus of the survey is on marine mammals. Therefore, you'll change the question about the species of turtle to appear only if survey participants answer that they've sighted a turtle in a previous question. A question that appears only if a certain answer choice is chosen is called a relevant question. You can create relevant questions by using specific expressions.

  1. In the form preview, scroll down to the question for species of turtle.

    Species of turtle question

    This turtle question is only relevant if users chose turtle for the previous question. Otherwise, users don't need to see the question for the species of turtle.

  2. In the spreadsheet, scroll to the relevant column (column L). For row 7 (the species-of-turtle question), type ${species}='Turtle'.

    Relevant expression for species of turtle

    This expression means that the question for species of turtle is only relevant if the answer to the species question is turtle. You can use a similar notation with different question and choice values to set other relevant questions.


    To set a relevant question, the expression must use values from the name column, not the label column.

  3. Save the Whale Monitoring.xlsx file and switch to the form preview.

    The question for species of turtle no longer appears by default.

  4. For Species, choose Turtle.

    Turtle answer to species question

    Once you choose the relevant answer, the relevant question becomes visible. In a more advanced survey, you could add more relevant questions based on whether the survey participant is reporting a cetacean or turtle sighting. For the purposes of this lesson, however, one relevant question is enough.

You've created a survey for whale sightings based on an existing XLSForm. You also edited the form to group relevant questions into categories, add Spanish language functionality, set default date and time values, and make a relevant question. All these changes have improved the usability of your survey and will help both survey participants and researchers.

Publish the survey

Previously, you changed some of the questions in your survey form to improve usability. Next, you'll publish the survey so tour guides and ship captains can use it to monitor the locations of whales and other marine animals. Before you publish it, you'll modify a few aesthetic aspects of the survey, such as its thumbnail and background color. You'll also add a map to the survey.

Style your survey

First, you'll modify the thumbnail and toolbar background color to visually differentiate your survey from other surveys in the Survey123 field app gallery (which is where users will access your survey).

  1. If necessary, open your whale monitoring survey in Survey123 Connect.
  2. In the form preview, on the bottom ribbon, click the Details tab.

    Details tab

    On the Details tab, you can modify the survey's title, provide a summary and survey description, and add a thumbnail.

  3. Click the default thumbnail image.

    The Select an image window opens. The Whale_Survey folder you downloaded previously contains a thumbnail image to use for the survey.

  4. Browse to the Whale_Survey folder and double-click Survey123_Thumbnail.png.

    Whale Monitoring thumbnail

  5. Update the Title, Summary, and Description with the following information:
    • Title: Whale Sighting Survey
    • Summary: A survey to record marine species observations
    • Description: The purpose of this survey is to allow tour guides and captains in Costa Rica to record observations of marine species, particularly whales and other cetaceans.

    The survey title appears when you open the survey from the gallery. It's not the same as the survey name, which is displayed in the gallery.

    Title, summary, and description filled in for the survey

    Because tour guides and captains will use your survey in potentially bright light conditions at open sea, you'll also modify the colors of the basic elements of your survey for more visual clarity.

  6. Return to the Form tab, and click the Style button, to the right of your survey form, to open the Style pane.

    Style button

    On this pane, you can customize colors for the survey text, background, toolbar text, toolbar background, and input text. You can also use an image as the background of your survey.

  7. Under the Header section, for Background color, click the palette button.

    Palette button for Toolbar background color

    The Background color window appears. You can either choose a color or enter a color's hexadecimal code.

  8. For Basic colors, click the blue color in the third row and third column. Click OK.

    Blue color

  9. Optionally, experiment with the survey background color and toolbar text color to allow for more visual clarity.

Include a map in your survey

All surveys in Survey123 collect location data from the survey participants, usually from the user's device settings. The addition of a map is optional to your survey. However, an interactive map will usually provide more accurate and visible location information. You'll add a map to the survey by adding a geopoint question to the survey form, which prompts survey participants to mark the map where the sighting occurred.

  1. If necessary, open the Whale Monitoring.xlsx file.

    If you previously closed the file, you can open it from the ArcGIS Survey123 Connect window. In the upper left corner of the window, click the Open XLSForm spreadsheet button.

    Row 22 of the spreadsheet contains a geopoint question.

    Geopoint question

    Geopoint questions allow users to capture a specific location in a survey. While survey responses in Survey123 will always attempt to capture a device's location even if a geopoint question is not included, a visible geopoint question on the form will result in better capture of location information in the form of a single set of GPS coordinates.

    When you include a geopoint question, a map is automatically added to your form. Next, you'll configure the map to be centered close to the survey location in Costa Rica.

  2. In the ArcGIS Survey123 Connect window, click the Map tab, from the ribbon.

    This tab contains settings for your survey's map's default zoom level and location. You'll set the map's default extent to the decimal-degrees latitude and longitude values of the survey area.

  3. In the Preview map section, change Coordinate format to Decimal Degrees. In the Detailed map section, change Coordinate format to Decimal Degrees.
  4. For Detailed map, change the following parameters:
    • Zoom level: 7.4
    • Latitude: 9.651419416
    • Longitude: -84.03296485

    Map settings

    The map changes its default location to Costa Rica. You'll preview the map in the form preview.

  5. Return to the Form tab and scroll down to the final question (Location of sighting), and click the map button.

    Location of sighting map button

    A map opens. The default location of the map is tied to your location settings. If your computer has no location settings enabled, the map zooms to Costa Rica, the default location that you specified.

  6. If necessary, click the home extent button to zoom the map to Costa Rica.

    Home button

  7. At the upper left corner of the map, click the back arrow to return to the form preview.

    You're now ready to publish your survey and share it with the public to enable anyone to record observations.

Share the survey

To make your survey publicly accessible, you must publish it. You have two options to share your survey with others. You can make it a public survey, enabling anyone with access to the link to participate. Or, you can use social logins, which allow users to participate using a Google or Facebook account. You'll make the survey public because you want to support citizen science initiatives and encourage guides, captains, and tourists to participate.

  1. Click the Publish button.

    Publish button

    A window appears with a warning that once a survey is published, you can no longer alter it without losing data collected by the survey. Your survey design is complete and you don't expect more changes, so you can ignore the warning.

  2. In the warning window, click Publish survey.

    The survey takes a few moments to publish. When it finishes, a message informs you that publishing is completed.

  3. Under Publishing completed, click OK.

    The account that published the survey is the only account that can currently access the survey and collect data using a mobile device. Next, you'll share the survey so others can access it.

  4. Go to the ArcGIS Survey123 website. If necessary, sign in.

    Once you sign in, a gallery of your published surveys opens.


    If you were already signed in, you may need to refresh the page and click My Surveys at the top of the page to see your new survey in your gallery.

  5. For your Whale Sighting Survey, click the Collaborate button.

    Collaborate button

    The Collaborate page contains sharing options. If you want your survey to be accessible to the public (and your organization allows sharing outside of the organization), you must share it with everyone.

  6. For Who can submit to this survey, check the Everyone (Public) box.

    By default, when you check Everyone (Public), your survey is also shared to Members of my organization.

  7. Click Save.

    The Link field at the top of the page is the link you can share so others can launch your survey. To the right of the link, there are options to copy the URL, scan the QR code to open the survey on a device, and launch the survey in a new browser tab. Below the link, there are additional options that change the link so it opens the survey in the Survey123 field app.

  8. Save the link via email or a messaging service so you can access it and take the survey on your mobile device.

    Survey123 also supports public surveys, which allows anyone to submit a survey without an ArcGIS account. Public surveys enable crowdsourcing and citizen science workflows.

Take a survey

Now that your survey is shared, you'll test it on the Survey123 field app using your mobile device. First, you'll install the field app on a smartphone or tablet, which are the types of devices the tour guides and captains will use in the field. Once you download a survey, you can complete it with or without Internet service. Surveys that guides and captains complete when the boat is out of range can be submitted later when a network connection is reestablished. You likely have Internet access, so you'll just test the survey while connected to the Internet.

  1. On your mobile device, go to your app store.

    If you don't have an Android, iOS, or Windows mobile device, you can also download the field app for your computer from the ArcGIS Survey123 Resources page. Click See launch and downloads. Under ArcGIS Survey123 field app, choose the appropriate download for your operating system.

  2. In your app store, search for and download the free ArcGIS Survey123 mobile app. Install the app.
  3. Once the app finishes installing, open it and sign in using your ArcGIS organizational account.

    The My Surveys gallery opens. If this is your first time using the field app, you probably have no surveys on your device, so you'll need to download the one you want to take.

  4. Select the menu button in the upper right corner and select Download Surveys.

    Depending on your device, you may already be presented with a list of surveys. If so, skip this step. The following example images show the Survey123 app on an iOS device. There may be slight design differences for different devices.

    Menu button on an iOS device

  5. In the list of available surveys, select the Whale Sighting Survey that you created.

    Download Whale Sighting Survey


    A good way to find the survey is to sort the list of available surveys by how recently they were updated. Your survey should be one of the most recent in the list.

  6. When the survey is finished downloading, if necessary, select Ok.
  7. Select the back arrow to return to the My Surveys page.

    The survey now appears in your gallery.

    My Surveys gallery

  8. Select Whale Sighting Survey.
  9. Select Collect.

    Collect button

    Your survey opens.


    Depending on your device's settings, you may be asked to allow Survey123 to access your current location. If you decline, you might be asked again in the future. Either way, you'll still be able to conduct the survey.

    Testing the survey

  10. Answer the survey questions as if you were a tour guide or captain observing a marine animal.

    What you answer doesn't matter; you only want to test the survey design on your mobile device. The final question of the survey asks for the location of the sighting.

  11. Click the map button to view the map.
  12. If necessary, select the home button to center the map on Costa Rica.
  13. Pan the map to center the pushpin on the observation location (anywhere on the ocean near Costa Rica).
  14. When you finish, select the check mark to return to the survey.

    Complete the survey

  15. Select the check mark again to complete the survey.

    If you have an Internet connection, you have three choices: , Send now, Continue this survey, or Save in Outbox. Other than Continue this survey, which brings you back to the survey in case you weren't finished yet, these choices determine when your survey will be sent to ArcGIS Online. Tour guides and boat captains will likely need to use the Save in Outbox option once they return to port and establish an Internet connection. However, they must manually send the data after they connect to a network. You have an Internet connection, so you'll send your survey now.

  16. Select Send now.

    After you send the survey, you return to the survey information page. You can choose to take the survey again or review sent survey data. (If you had chosen Save in Outbox instead, a different option would appear: Outbox. With this option, you can send your completed survey data when you're ready.)

  17. Select Sent.

    Sent button

    The app displays a list of your completed surveys for the Whale Sighting Survey. Currently, you only have one.

    List of sent surveys

    If you select the survey, you can choose to either edit and resend the survey or copy its data to a new survey. At the bottom of the list of surveys, you can select Empty to delete them all. You'll keep this survey and complete a few more surveys.

  18. Return to the information page for the survey. Complete and send two more surveys.

You've made a few aesthetic and usability changes to your survey and published it. You also downloaded the Survey123 field app on your mobile device and tested your survey.

Create an app

Previously, you published and tested your whale monitoring survey. Tour guides and boat captains will use your survey at least nine months of the year, when whales and other marine species visit the Bahía Ballena area. Respondents are generally curious about both their own and other sightings. Potential tourists want to know the best times of the year and times of day to encounter whales and other marine species, while researchers want access to survey statistics.

To share the survey results, you'll create a web map that contains the result data. You'll symbolize the spatial data from your survey and configure pop-ups that contain the key survey information. Then, you'll use your web map to create a web mapping application, which presents the spatial information with a user-friendly interface that you can share with captains, tourists, and researchers.

Explore survey results

Before you create a web map from survey result data, you'll become familiar with what your result data contains. Although no one has submitted real surveys yet, you previously completed three test surveys on your mobile device.

  1. If necessary, sign in to the Survey123 website using your ArcGIS organizational account.
  2. Go to My Surveys.

    Your own survey location and data will differ from the following example images.

  3. Click the Whale Sighting Survey.

    An overview of the survey responses opens. The overview lists the total number of surveys completed, the number of participants, and the dates of the first and last survey.

    Overview of surveys

  4. Click the Data tab.

    Data tab

    The Data page contains a map of survey locations and a table of survey responses. The map automatically zooms to an extent that displays as many of your surveys as possible.

  5. Click any survey entry in the table.

    The map pans and zooms to the point that represents the survey you clicked. In addition, a pane opens with details about the selected survey record.

    The Data page also includes options to convert your data into additional formats for use by other applications. You can even convert your data into a web map. Before you convert your data, you'll explore one more page with information on your survey results.

  6. Click the Analyze tab.

    Analyze tab

    The Analyze page contains charts and maps that show statistics about your survey's results. For your whale survey, these charts help determine which whale species is most often observed and which times and dates have the most sightings. You took your three surveys at nearly the same time, so the Hour of sighting chart probably has a large spike at a specific time.

    Hour of sighting chart

  7. Explore the Analyze page. When you finish, return to the Data page.

Create a web map

Next, you'll convert your survey data into a web map. This map is the first step toward creating a web app that will display survey results with an appealing and easy-to-use interface.

  1. On the Data page, click Open in Map Viewer.

    Open in Map Viewer button

    A window opens displaying the survey data in Map Viewer Classic. The Contents pane to the side of the map contains a layer that represents the point data from your survey. The layer's name contains a long string of letters and numbers that doesn't convey much information. You'll rename the layer to something more appropriate.

  2. In the Contents pane, point to the layer that represents your survey data. Click the More Options button and choose Rename.

    More Options button with Rename selected in the options menu

  3. In the Rename window, change Layer Name to Marine Observations and click OK.

    Depending on where your survey points are located, the default zoom level of the web map may not be appropriate to display all the data.

  4. While pressing the Shift key, draw a box around the points to zoom the map to your survey area.

    The map displays all your survey points. The points contain the data from the survey responses, which you can access through the layer's table.

  5. Point to the Marine Observations layer and click the Show Table button.

    Show Table button

    A table opens under the map, similar to the table you encountered in the Data page. The table also contains the same survey response data. The layer will update automatically with new observations of marine life sightings as they are recorded.

  6. Close the table.

    Lastly, you'll save the web map.

  7. On the ribbon above the map, click Save and choose Save As.

    Save As

  8. In the Save Map window, complete the following parameters:
    • Title: Whale Monitoring
    • Tags: Whales, Marine Animals, Costa Rica
    • Summary: A web map that contains observations of whales and other marine life in Costa Rica
  9. Click Save Map.

    Your map is saved. You can now access it from ArcGIS Online.

Add a layer for the national park

Before you create a web app out of your web map, you'll make a few more changes to it. First, you'll change the basemap to emphasize geographic patterns in the ocean. Then, you'll add a layer of the Marino Ballena National Park boundary. Many tour guides and captains travel within this park, so it's likely that a lot of the marine observations will be inside it.

  1. On the ribbon, click Basemap and choose Oceans.

    Basemap gallery with Oceans selected

    The Oceans basemap emphasizes marine bathymetry, while removing many land-based features. Next, you'll add the Marino Ballena National Park boundary.

  2. On the ribbon, click Add and choose Search for Layers.

    Search for Layers

    The search pane appears

  3. In the search box, type the park's name in Spanish, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Add a space and type owner:Learn_ArcGIS. Press Enter.
  4. Confirm that ArcGIS Online is displayed at the top of the pane.

    Search parameters

    The search returns a layer owned by the Learn ArcGIS administrator account.

  5. Select the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena layer to read details about the layer, and click Add to Map.
  6. Click X in the upper right of the Add to Map pane.

    Park boundaries on map

    The park boundaries are added to the map. This layer was created by Geoporter, a nonprofit organization of educators who work with communities to examine local resources and solve local issues.


    If none of your survey results are within the park boundaries (as shown in the example), that's okay. You'll add a file of example survey results later with data collected inside the park.

  7. Click the Back arrow to return to the Contents tab.

Change symbology

The Marino Ballena National Park layer is styled with a random green polygon symbol. Next, you'll apply more visually appealing symbology to the layer You'll also change the symbology for the marine observations to display different types of observations with different symbols, so users can tell at a glance what kind of observation each symbol represents.

  1. In the Contents pane, point to the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena layer and click the Change Style button.

    Change Style button

    The Change Style pane opens. You can choose to symbolize the layer based on a data attribute located in the layer's table, or with a single symbol. The park boundaries layer contains only one feature (unlike the marine observations layer, which contains three), so you'll symbolize the layer with a single symbol.

  2. For Location (Single Symbol), click Options.

    Single symbol options

    The pane changes to show options for the default symbol. You'll change the symbol's color and outline pattern.

  3. Click Symbols.

    Symbols button

    A window with more symbol options appears. You can change both the fill color and the outline color.

  4. For Fill, change the color to a darker green and the transparency to 60 percent.

    Fill color and transparency

  5. Click Outline. Change the outline color to the darkest green and Transparency to 10 percent.
  6. Change Pattern to the dash-dot-dash pattern.

    Outline color, transparency, and pattern

  7. Click OK.

    The changes are automatically applied to the map. The new symbol stands out more without obscuring the basemap.

  8. At the bottom of the Change Style pane, click OK. Then, click Done.

    Next, you'll symbolize marine observations so that each species has a different symbol. This symbology will allow users to distinguish different types of observations at a glance.

  9. On the Contents pane, point to the Marine Observations layer and click the Change Style button.
  10. In the Change Style pane, for Choose an attribute to show, choose Species.

    Choose an attribute to show

    The available drawing styles update. Unlike the national park layer, which had only one feature, there are multiple features in the marine observations layer. You can choose to give features unique symbols based on their attribute information (the survey data in the layer's table).

  11. For Select a drawing style, for Types (Unique symbols), click Options.

    Options for unique symbols

    By default, each species type is given a symbol with a unique color.

    Symbols for each species

    You can either use the default symbols or modify them.

  12. Optionally, in the Change Style pane, click the symbols and change them to your preference.

    The list of species contains two categories called Other. One of the Other categories is a survey option that a guide or captain can choose to record the sighting of a species they couldn't identify. The second Other category was automatically added to the layer in the web map to categorize any records that do not have a species specified. You'll turn off the second Other category.

  13. Scroll to the bottom of the list of species. Uncheck the Other box.

    Other species category

  14. At the bottom of the Change Style pane, click OK. Then, click Done.

Configure pop-ups

Each marine observation has a pop-up that contains all the survey information related to that observation. While this information can be useful, it's best to include the most important details in each pop-up. Next, you'll configure pop-ups to create a more user-friendly experience.

  1. Click any marine observation to open its pop-up.

    Default pop-up

    The current pop-up title isn't useful. Additionally, some of the information about the tour guide and weather conditions is unnecessary to show. You'll change the title and hide some of the unnecessary details.

  2. Close the pop-up. In the Contents pane, point to the Marine Observations layer, click the More Options button, and choose Configure Pop-up.

    Configure Pop-up

    First, you'll change the pop-up's title to contain the most important information: the species observed.

  3. For Pop-up Title, delete the current text. Click the Add field name or expression button and choose Species {species}.

    Add Field Name or Expression button with Species selected in the list

    Next, you'll modify and remove some of the additional fields in the pop-up.

  4. For Pop-up Contents, click Configure Attributes.

    Configure Attributes

    The Configure Attributes window opens. It contains a list of all attributes displayed in the layer, with options to display them or change their field alias (the name of the attribute that appears in the pop-up). You already have the species field as the pop-up title, so you can turn it off in the pop-up content.

  5. In the Display column, uncheck the box for the Species field.

    Species field display

    You'll also turn off a few other fields.

  6. Uncheck Display for the following fields:
    • Date
    • This Whale Sighting Survey is for use by guides and captains in the Pacific waters of Costa Rica.
    • Species of Turtle
    • In what direction is the species moving?
    • Minutes of observation
    • Captain or guide name
    • Your name
    • Type of tour
    • Departure location

    This window also has options for changing the order of fields. You'll move the number of species seen to the top of the pop-up to emphasize it.

  7. Click the Group size field to select it and click the Move up button three times to move the field above the Hour of sighting field.

    Move up

  8. Optionally, move other fields to arrange them in an order you think is best.
  9. Click OK. In the Configure Pop-up pane, click OK.
  10. On the map, open a pop-up.

    Configured pop-up

    The new pop-up contains a smaller amount of information, but it's information that is more likely to be relevant to your users.

  11. Close the pop-up.
  12. Save your map.

Configure a web mapping application

Your web map is complete. Next, you'll configure a web mapping application, also called a web app. A web app presents a web map with an appealing, user-friendly interface. You'll share your app with the public so users can see changes in observations over time.

Before you create the web app, you'll share the map. Otherwise, when users open the app, they won't see the map.

  1. On the ribbon, click Share.

    Share button

  2. For Choose who can view this map, choose Everyone (public).
  3. Under Embed this map, Click Create a Web App.

    Create a Web App button

    The Create a New Web App window appears. You can either build a web app from scratch with ArcGIS Web AppBuilder, or you can use ArcGIS Configurable Apps and choose a template that configures a lot of settings for you.

  4. Search for and click Minimalist.

    A pane with a short summary of the template appears. You'll use this template with minimal extra settings to emphasize your map and survey results.

  5. Click Create Web App.

    Next, you're given the option to update the metadata (title, tags, and summary) of your web app. The default metadata is the same that you used for your web map. You'll change some of the metadata to distinguish your app from your map and provide more description for users.

  6. Update the following information:
    • Title: Whale Monitoring off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
    • Summary: The most recent marine life sightings off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica
  7. Click Done.

    The app is created based on the template you chose. You also have a simple set of options to modify and customize the content of your app.

    The app configuration window includes several app settings and an interactive preview of your app, including buttons to view how the app will appear on a mobile device. By default, the Minimalist app includes a side panel that displays a legend and map details. The app also has a header with sharing options, map navigation tools, and a search tool to find locations on the map.

  8. Switch from the Legend tab to the Details tab.

    Your app currently has no details because the default content comes from the web map and you haven't given your web map a description yet. You can edit the map description by using a link provided in the app configuration settings.

  9. In the Express Setup panel, click Step 1. Map.

    The Map settings include the item details for the map used in the app. You can also select a different map. You already chose your web map, but you do need to add a map description for the Details panel.


    If you want the details panel to include different content than the map's description, you can exit the express step by clicking Back, and click Switch to Full Setup to provide a custom description in the full About settings.

  10. Click View item details.
  11. In the map item page that opens, for Description, click Edit.

    Edit the description

  12. Add the following description (or write your own):

    This web app contains recent marine life sightings off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. These marine life observations were taken by tour guides and boat captains and include sightings of whales, dolphins, turtles, and other prominent marine creatures.

  13. Click Save. Close the item page.
  14. In the Express Setup panel, click Next.

    The About settings include options to provide information that helps users understand the map. For example, you can turn off or modify the side panels. You can also include a header with the app's title (and a logo, if your organization has one specified in the shared theme settings and it's enabled for your app).

  15. Optionally turn off the header.

    By default, when your app opens, the legend will automatically appear in the opened side panel. Seeing the legend helps users understand the symbols and styling in the map, so you'll accept this default setting. You can also display a feature's pop-up in a side panel instead of in the map. However, doing so isn't necessary for this lesson.

  16. Click Next.

    The Interactivity settings include options for the search tool. Users don't need to search your map for locations, so you'll remove the search tool.


    To configure additional tools that encourage map exploration, access the full Interactivity settings by clicking the Full Setup button in the action bar.

  17. Turn off the search tool.

    The app preview updates and no longer includes the search box in the map. The app automatically saves as noted next to the Draft badge at the bottom of the window.

  18. Click Next.

    The Theme & Layout settings include options to apply your organization's shared theme (colors and logo, if applicable) to keep your app on brand. You can also choose a light or dark theme. You'll change the app's theme to give it a darker appearance.

  19. For Select a theme choose Dark.

    The app updates with the darker color scheme. You can test the app as you configure it.

  20. Click a marine observation to open a pop-up.

    Pop-up with dark theme

    The pop-up has a dark color because of the theme you chose.


    In the configuration panel, click the Views button for options to test how the app appears on a mobile device.

  21. Click Publish and click Confirm.

    A success message appears when publishing is completed and the Draft badge changes to a Published badge with the date and time you published. The Share window opens, which includes a link to the app, buttons to share via social media, an option to embed the app in a website, and the date and time the app was last published.

  22. Click Launch.

    Initial state of configured app

    Your web app opens in a new browser tab or window. The side panel shows the legend, which contains the national park and marine observation layers.

  23. Switch to the Details panel to see the description content that you added for the map.
  24. Explore the web app as much as you want. When you finish, close the web app window and return to the app configuration.
  25. Close the Share window. Click Exit. When prompted, confirm that you want to exit.

    The app's item page opens. The title, summary, and tags are already completed from when you first created the app. You could also add more details, such as a description and terms of use.

  26. Close the item page window.

You've created a web map from your survey results and turned it into a web app that users can explore.

Analyze survey data

Previously, you created an app to share your data with the public. Mapping survey data is useful, but you can also analyze the results to gain greater insight into the location and frequency of whale sightings in the area. In this lesson, you'll add a layer of 2015 survey results to your web map and analyze their spatial patterns. You'll answer the following questions:

  • Which protected area had the greatest number of whale, cetacean, and turtle observations during the four-month period when most tours take place?
  • How many humpback whale sightings occurred inside the boundaries of protected areas and how many outside?

Your analysis results will help scientists better understand the distribution of whales in the area and whether protected areas support increasing numbers of whales. Your results may increase participation by local guides and captains who have no previous GIS experience. They'll see that by collecting survey data, their contributions lead to a greater understanding of the marine life that visits the Pacific shores of Costa Rica.

Add 2015 whale surveys

After creating your whale survey, you collected three fictitious sightings. You could use these for analysis, but the results would be meaningless with so few records. In this section, you'll update your web map by adding a file containing 76 mock surveys collected in 2015 that will provide more meaningful analysis. In addition, you'll add an updated Costa Rica marine reserves layer that you'll use to summarize the number of sightings within protected and non-protected areas.

  1. If necessary, sign in to your ArcGIS organizational account.
  2. In your account's Content page, locate and open your Whale Monitoring web map (not the web mapping application).

    Any changes you save to your web map will also be evident in your app. To alter your map without changing the app, you can save a copy of the web map to modify.

  3. In the Contents pane, turn off the Marine Observations and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena layers by unchecking their boxes.

    You'll replace these layers with two layers you downloaded earlier with your XLS form.

  4. On the ribbon, click Add and choose Add Layer from File.

    Add Layer from File option

  5. In the Add Layer from File window, click Choose File.
  6. Browse to the Whale_Survey folder, click the Costa_Rica_Marine_Reserves zipped file, and click Open.

    This file contains a shapefile of marine reserve boundaries.

  7. Click Import Layer.

    Import Layer button

    The layer is added to the map. The largest polygon in the layer represents all the territorial waters off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, while the smaller three polygons represent marine reserves.


    Your default symbology might differ from the example image.

    Marine reserves

  8. If necessary, in the Change Style pane, under Choose an attribute to show, choose Name.

    Each marine reserve will now have a unique color.

  9. At the bottom of the Change Style pane, click Done.

    Next, you'll add the file of whale sightings.

  10. Click Add and choose Add Layer from File. Import the Whale_Sightings_2015 zipped file.

    Whale Sightings layer

    The sightings are clustered close to the coastline.

  11. If necessary, in the Change Style pane, under Choose an attribute to show, choose Species.

    Each survey point now has a different symbol for each species.

  12. Click Done.

    This layer of whale sightings does not have a configured pop-up like your previous marine observations layer. Pop-ups aren't necessary for analysis, but they provide useful information about specific features.

  13. Optionally, configure the pop-up for the Whale Sightings 2015 layer any way you like.
  14. Save your map.

Aggregate points

Next, you'll analyze your data to answer two questions. First, you'll determine which protected area had the greatest number of whale, cetacean, and turtle observations during the four-month period these surveys were collected. Second, you'll determine the number of humpback whale sightings that occurred inside the boundaries of protected areas. You'll answer these questions by aggregating observations within specific areas.

  1. On the ribbon, click Analysis.

    Analysis button

  2. In the Perform Analysis pane, click Summarize Data and choose Aggregate Points.

    Aggregate Points

    The Aggregate Points tool takes a layer of points and a layer of polygons and counts the number of points inside each polygon. The tool then creates a polygon layer with the count of points listed as part of the layer's attributes. You'll use this tool to determine the number of observations in each marine reserve.


    You can learn more about any analysis tool by clicking the information button (the blue i) next to the tool name.

  3. If necessary, in the Aggregate points pane, specify the following parameters:
    • Choose layer containing points to aggregate into areas: Whale_Sightings_2015
    • Choose layer containing aggregation areas: Costa_Rica_Marine_Reserves

    Choose the layers to use in the tool

    Next, you'll decide some statistics for the tool to calculate using the attributes of the whale sightings layer. While the tool will count the total number of observations within each area by default, there are more specific statistics that will improve your analysis. For instance, if you remember your original survey form, it was possible for a single observation to include multiple members of a certain species, such as a herd or family group. Thus, for a more accurate count of species observations, you'll find the sum of the Number field within each observation.

  4. Under Add Statistics, for Field, choose Number. For Statistic, choose Sum.

    Add Statistics parameters

    Currently, these will be calculated for all points inside the Park boundaries, giving you the total number of observations regardless of species. However, it'll be more useful if you can group the counts by each species. You'll also add percentages so you can compare the proportion of species observations.

  5. For Choose field to group by, choose Species. Check the box for Add percentages.

    Choose field to group by

  6. For Result layer name, type Observations by Area. To make the layer name unique, add your name or initials to the end.

    New items created by analysis operations must have unique names within your ArcGIS Online organization. Once the layer has been created, you can rename it in your map.

    By default, the analysis will only include features in the current map extent. However, some of the marine reserves features extend beyond the current map extent.

  7. Uncheck Use current map extent.

    Use current map extent

  8. Click Run Analysis.

    After a few moments, your Observations by Area layer is added to both the map and the Contents pane. A corresponding stand-alone table is also added. The result layer is symbolized as polygon outlines, each with a point in the center. The size of the point represents the count of aggregated observations. At a glance, the Marino Ballena park seems to have the highest aggregated count of points.

    Marino Ballena NationalPark

    The default symbology is difficult to read, however. You'll change it to better visually represent the data and to correspond with the total number of species, not the number of survey responses.

  9. For the Observations by Area layer, click Change Style. For Choose an attribute to show, choose Sum Number.

    When you change the attribute, the symbology changes to a gradient color pattern, where darker colors have more species observed. A legend is added to the map, which indicates that the highest number of observed species is 202, even though your layer had only 76 survey responses. Many surveys reported multiple marine animals.

    Sum Number legend

    Next, you'll open the Observations by Area table to see the statistics that the tool generated.

  10. At the bottom of the Change Style pane, click Done. In the Contents pane, point to the Observations by Area layer and click the Show Table button.

    Default table

    The table contains four entries. The Name field for each of these entries corresponds to a feature in the marine reserves layer. The Costa Rica Ocean Waters feature is not a reserve but represents the Pacific territorial waters of Costa Rica. While the highest count of points is in Marino Ballena (39), the Costa Rica territorial waters have close to twice as many actual species observations (233 compared to 128). However, compared to the two other marine reserves, Marino Ballena has significantly more species observations.

    You've answered the first question for your analysis: Which protected area has the most whale, cetacean, and turtle observations? The next question is how many humpback whale sightings occurred within the boundaries of protected areas and how many outside. When you performed your analysis, you also grouped the results by species. You'll examine the grouped results to answer this question.

  11. In the table, scroll to the right until you locate the groupBySummary column. For the Marino Ballena record (the third record), click Show.

    Show summary group

    A new table named AggregatedGroupBy opens. This table contains detailed information about the individual animal observations in Marino Ballena (the selected record in the Observations by Area table). The Join ID field of the new table confirms which record the table is for.

    AggregatedGroupBy table

    The total Count of Points for this table is 39, which also matches the count of points in Marino Ballena.

  12. In the Observations by Area table, click the Column selection menu button and choose Name.

    Column selection menu

    The table displays the name of the selected marine reserve instead of the ID, making it easier to identify.

    Closer examination of the table indicates that most of the observations in Marino Ballena (34) are humpback whale observations, while three are spotted dolphins and two are turtles. A total of 75 humpback whales were observed during these 34 sightings. Although there were only three sightings of spotted dolphins, 50 dolphins were estimated during those sightings.

  13. In the Observations by Area table, click the Costa Rica record.

    Costa Rica record

    The AggregatedGroupBy table updates to display the statistics for the selected Costa Rica area. As you learned previously, this record corresponds to Costa Rica's territorial waters that are not part of any marine reserve. Based on the updated table, 52 humpback whales were observed outside of national parks.

  14. Click each of the remaining two records to see how many humpback whales were sighted in the other protected areas. Determine the total number of humpback whales observed inside protected areas.

    Altogether, 84 humpback whales were observed within protected areas, compared to the 52 observed outside of them. You've answered the second question of your analysis.

  15. Close the AggregateGroupBy table. Then, close the Observations by Area table.
  16. Turn off the Observations by Area layer. Save the map.

In this lesson, you built a bilingual whale survey that tour guides and captains can use to collect marine animal data. Using ArcGIS Survey123, you modified an existing survey form to improve the user experience and test the multilingual functionality. Then, you created an app from the survey results and analyzed the observations to answer questions about the spatial distribution of marine animal observations.

By participating in the collection of sightings, the Bahía Ballena community will better understand the humpback whale migration trends between December and April. Researchers can use the survey results to solve critical questions about where the whales migrate and calve and if their numbers increase or decrease as environmental changes occur.

You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.