The Cartographer mobile app for iOS and Android lets you record data in the field without access to a mobile data connection. When you’re back home or in the office, the app will upload new surveys to our servers automatically.
Installing the App
The app is freely available on the Google Play and Apple App stores. Here are some step-by-step guides on how to install it:
Using the App
When you open the Cartographer app, you’ll be asked to log in. Use the same email address and password as you do for the Cartographer web site.
When you tap “Sign In”, the app will authenticate with our servers and download and store a lot of data on your device. This may take several seconds on wifi and longer on a mobile data connection:
You may notice a faint button at the bottom of the login titled “Production Servers”. This allows you to connect to different servers for preview and testing purposes. Please leave this set to “Production Servers” unless you are explicitly asked to change it by a member of the Cartographer support team.
Selecting a Workspace
Once you are logged in you will see a screen entitled Select Workspace containing several options:
- Workspaces — These are the workspaces that you are enrolled in on the beta. You may only see a subset of the workspaces are available to you on the Cartographer web site. Let our team know if there are missing options that you feel should be there.
- Logged in as — This tells you who you’re logged in as, in case you’re using a shared device. For security, please make sure you always use your own account to access Cartographer.
- Work offline — This switch enables and disables offline mode, which can be useful if you’re working in an area with a weak mobile signal. See below for more information.
- Help — tap this menu item to open the Cartographer Help site (this web site!) in your browser. You’ll need a working network connection.
- About — This tells you what version of the app you’re using, which may come in handy when’re talking to our support team. You can see additional support information by tapping on this menu option.
- Log out — Tap this button to log out of your account. Be warned — this will delete any locally stored data and reset the app ready for the next user. Only tap log out it if you are sure you have saved any outstanding changes to our servers!
Selecting a Survey Type
Tapping on a workspace shows a list of the types of survey data that you are able to collect there. You may only see a subset of the options available to you on the Cartogapher web site. Let our team know if there are missing options that you feel should be there:
Browsing the List of Surveys
Tap on a survey type to see a list of the surveys collected so far. This is equivalent to the Survey List page on the Cartographer web site (see
The colour coding indicates the approval status of each survey:
- Draft surveys are accented in teal
- Complete surveys are accented in orange
- Approved surveys are accented in green
- Review/Rejected surveys are accented in red
The icon next to the survey indicates where it is saved:
Surveys can take up a lot of disk space, so the app doesn’t download them until you tap on them for the first time. Surveys that are stored on our servers but haven’t been downloaded are indicated by a cloud with a down arrow. Tap the list item to download the survey and view it on your device.
If the app has lost internet connectivity or is in Offline Mode (see Working Offline below for details), it can’t download surveys from our servers. Surveys that are stored on our servers but can’t be downloaded are indicated by a cloud with a strike through.
When you create a new survey on your device, the app will try to upload it to our servers. If the app has no internet connectivity or is in Offline Mode, the survey will be queued for upload. Surveys in the queue are indicated by a cloud with an up arrow.
Surveys that have been successfully uploaded/downloaded are held as two copies, one on our servers and one on your device. Surveys in this state are indicated by a cloud with a tick in it. Tap the list item to view the survey even if your app is in offline mode.
When the app is actively uploading a survey, its icon will change to a spinner. Uploads can take a while, particularly if you have a lot of photos and you are on a slow network connection. See Working Offline below for more information.
Adding a Survey
Tap Add on the survey list to record a new survey. The app will open a new survey form and allow you to start recording data:
When you are done tap Save in the top right. The app will ask you what approval status you want to use (see
Tap on a status to save the survey locally on your mobile device. You should see the survey in the survey list with a cloud with an up arrow icon on the left:
If you have an active network connection, the app will automatically start to upload the survey in the background.
If you are off the network, the app will wait until the network is restored before starting the upload. You can continue to record new surveys in the meantime — each new or updated survey will be queued until it can be uploaded.
Tips for Completing Survey Forms
Some surveys, like MoRPh, have multiple pages. You’ll see the page number and name at the top of the screen underneath the title bar, together with the number of errors and warnings on the current page:
You can tap the “<” and “>” to switch to the previous and next pages, or tap the page title to open a table of contents menu. Tap an item in the table of contents to jump straight to that page:
In certain places a survey form may ask you to specify a location. You’ll see a miniature map looking like this:
Tap the map to open a modal dialog to edit the location. You can type a GPS location or National Grid Reference into the text field at the top, or tap the map or the “Find me” button (arrow icon) to pinpoint your current location:
Tap “Save” when you’re done to store the location in the survey form:
In certain places a survey form may ask you to add one or more photographs to support your data. You’ll see a large square button labeled “Tap to add a file”:
If you tap on the button, the app will ask you whether you want to take a photograph with your camera or choose a file from your local media or documents library:
You can often attach multiple files to the same place on the form. If there are too many files to show on-screen, you can swipe left and right to view them all:
Monitoring in the field often takes you to areas with poor or no mobile signal. Believe it or not, having poor signal can be worse than having none! A slow network communication can make the app sluggish and lead to a frustrating user experience, especially when you’re trying to view and upload surveys with large photographs in them. This is where offline mode comes in…
Enabling Offline Mode
You can enable offline mode using the switch on the home screen:
The word “offline” will appear in the title bar on all screens to remind you that the app is in offline mode:
While offline mode is active:
- all communication with our servers is completely disabled;
- you can continue to add new surveys as normal;
- the app will store newly added surveys locally, and upload them to our servers when you go back online (see below).
Remember: Newly recorded surveys are not saved to our servers until you go back online (see below)!
Where Surveys are Saved
To preserve storage space on your device, the app only downloads surveys and photographs as it needs them. The first time you tap on a survey, you’ll see a loading spinner while the app fetches the necessary data from our servers.
Once the survey is downloaded, it is stored locally on your device in case you need to look at it again. You can tell which surveys are stored where by looking at the cloud icons on each list of surveys:
The icons on the left of the list indicate where each survey is saved:
- A cloud with a down arrow indicates that the survey is saved on our servers but hasn’t been downloaded to your mobile device. If you tap on this survey, the app will download it so you can look at it. If you are working offline, you will see an error message.
- A cloud with no arrow indicates that the survey is saved on our servers and on your mobile device. You can view this survey even if you don’t have an active data connection or your are working offline.
- A cloud with an up arrow indicates that the survey has been saved on your device but not yet uploaded to our servers. This happens when you add a survey while you are working offline, or when you have no network connection.
Going Back Online
If you add a survey while you are working offline, the app will save it locally and wait until the connection is restored.
When you get back on wifi, disable offline mode to allow the app to upload your new surveys to our servers. Once they are uploaded, you will be able to see them on maps and survey lists on the Cartographer web site.
Uploading may take a while based on your network speed and the number of surveys and photographs you have recorded. Check the survey list to see which surveys are yet to be uploaded:
Once all surveys have been uploaded, it is safe to close the app or log out.