Offline Editing Plugin: TN911 Project

Jan 15, 2021 | address, QGIS

One of the weirder problems we had on moving the ESRI setup was editing the data. It wasn’t the normal “hey lets add an address” but it was tackling the idea of “We need to edit the data in the field”.

As it was explained “the way we did things”  was to drag the data out in the field with the editor because they were running a simple Arcmap/FBGDB. Now that we had moved to a Postgresql database I wasn’t keen on people “carrying the data out”. I preferred they connect to the database and edit it like civilized folk.

That is a problem because the county is rural and connections are sketchy and all of that led back to the idea of “Take a copy of the data with you”. We had a mobile solution but nothing making my life easier.

There is a plugin that originally caused much angst and it is called the OfflineEditing Plugin. It’s seriously the most no-thrills thing you will find in QGIS.

At one point in the early stages we had a lot of errors and I couldn’t figure out why. We have an ID attached to each feature that never changes. The client had discovered the plugin and it would let you check data out and edit it and check it back in. Which was what we wanted to happen…..except back when 3.0 was brand new we had a lot of things change unexpectedly. I had a trigger setup that added the primary key to the features ID. So data would come out. Data would go in and between the triggers and functions the ID would change. To the client this looked like a great solution. The intern thought it was awesome. The guy watching things change in the database didn’t have much joy.

I’ve not touched it since 3.2 or 3.4 in QGIS was out.

I’m running a “beta” (3.17) copy of QGIS at the moment. So I built a quick database and decided to play. It checks your data out and you then have a seamless offline dataset stored in a geopackage (the original data is in a postgresql database). I check it out and edit and check it back….and……

It worked. ID’s were respected. Sequences were maintained. I added data and checked data in and Edit Dates and Edit Times were also saved (at the time of check-in). Since I checked the entire database out and checked it in things I didn’t work on received a new edit date. Which – I think there is a way around that but that goes beyond the 1 hour test today. Which – given the 2+ years since I’ve touched it this plugin may have been working fine for a bit.

So what does this mean? Well – you can take your laptop and check your data out and go into the field. AWESOME IT’S VERSIONED….well not in the way ESRI versions anything so you will overwrite some data if you aren’t careful. It does make this setup a little more flexible although I’d rather toss this into a mobile app and only worry about the things we need to worry about – in other words if you’re working on addressing in a neighborhood I only care about that neighborhood. Which means I’d probably split that data out – check it out – edit it – Check it in and then merge it into your original data. More work but safer. I like safe.

Overall – a much better experience with the Offline Editing Plugin this go around.

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