Mobile app deployment

Efficient and effective deployment of mobile applications to interact with ArcGIS systems must take a variety of factors into account, to ensure that the users have proper access, that apps are correctly loaded and updated on devices, and that connectivity and features support the desired workflows for data access or editing.

Many topics related to mobile device deployment are covered in the ArcGIS Secure Mobile Implementations technical paper. the ArcGIS Field Maps documentation also contains a dedicated section on Mobile Device Management (MDM) Some particularly relevant considerations include the following concepts.


Mobile devices may be used primarily in high-coverage areas where there is consistent, low-latency internet connectivity, in which case a dynamically edited and viewed map may work well. In scenarios where there is expected or assumed lack of coverage, users can work with pre-planned areas and take maps offline.

More difficult are scenarios with inconsistent coverage, where users may not know to prepare and take maps offline or may be editing at one point and then lose connectivity when they try to submit edits. ArcGIS field applications are designed to handle this scenario by holding edits until connectivity is restored, but user education may be required to ensure that they can work effectively with inconsistent connectivity.

Many organizations use ArcGIS Online for mobile workflows because it is natively internet-facing and provides easy access from any internet-connected device. Additionally, public-facing ArcGIS Enterprise deployments or ArcGIS Server services can be used in mobile workflows successfully. Mobile devices can also collect data that is sent to a private ArcGIS Enterprise, where the device only has connectivity to the system when back at an office location, or when a VPN is enabled. The key connectivity requirement is for the initial pull of data (if editing existing data or using data offline), and for the final submission of edits from the device to the system.

Systems that are designed to have a large number of mobile devices working on and offline should consider the recommendations in the Mobile Operations and Offline Data Management system pattern.

Mobile device security

Mobile device security is a complicated area of cybersecurity exposure and includes many considerations. Some organizations manage this risk through providing heavily managed corporate-owned devices, either smartphones, tablets, or even mobile PCs. Others may implement a bring your own device (BYOD) program, with a wide variety of endpoint protection or management approaches and patterns like Mobile device management (MDM) and Mobile application management (MAM).

There are many vendors and recommendations in this area, and Esri does not have specific guidance for such a wide variety of approaches, but ArcGIS field apps can generally be compatible with most security approaches – each requires carefully understanding the implications and planning for deployment. Esri does not provide access to ArcGIS application source code for deep app-wrapping scenarios. In these cases, a custom mobile application using ArcGIS Maps SDKs is a compatible option.

Mobile-first web apps

Increasingly, web apps are designed to be mobile first. Web development with the ArcGIS Maps SDK for JavaScript, along with configurable apps like ArcGIS Dashboards and ArcGIS Experience Builder, make building mobile-ready apps easier than in in the past. Whether you design multiple interfaces to support desktop and mobile access, or design a mobile interface first, web apps provide a new way to view and collect data, though they generally have more specific connectivity requirements and do not have as much functionality for offline access.

Additional considerations

Additional considerations for teams implementing ArcGIS mobile applications include:

  • ArcGIS mobile apps are not currently compatible with many device registration patterns – where a device is “registered” as a corporate-owned, managed or guest device, and can provide self-identifying information when communicating with an identity provider. This can introduce a layer of security by ensuring that only corporate-approved devices can access certain Internet-facing endpoints or systems. However, supporting this in ArcGIS mobile applications would require each app to build in the required vendor authentication library or module into the native app which is not currently a planned capability.
  • Esri’s Technical Support is focused on the latest version of our mobile applications - as most mobile operating system configurations automatically update applications, most users should expect to be on the latest version of the application. If the organization restricts application updates, consider a regular review of the latest releases to allow users to benefit from new functionality. Further information on support life cycles is available on the Esri Support site, for example on the Field Maps lifecycle page.
  • Hybrid deployments of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, where users might be editing data in feature services in ArcGIS Online, but the system is synchronizing edits back to the enterprise geodatabase using distributed collaboration, can be a powerful way to engage external contractors and editors while maintaining network security. See the mobile operations and offline data management system pattern for additional details.
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