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Auto-Merge Data for Simultaneous Editing

January 14, 2014

As part of yesterday’s update to support complex relationships between data types in Fulcrum, we also added another new powerful capability that makes offline fieldwork even easier for teams.

Offline editing of forms and data presents a challenge with multi-user organizations, particularly in environments when field staff are working closely together as a group. Previously in Fulcrum, if two users edited the same record at the same time offline (even different fields on the same record), then each synced their changes, the last one to sync would take precedence–similar to how a word processing document on a network drive would behave if two users made simultaneous changes. We aimed to make multi-user collaboration much more powerful in with “auto-merge” support.

Multiple users can edit the same form at the same time

With this latest update, when multiple users make changes to different areas of the same record and sync independently, Fulcrum will merge the results into a finished copy containing all of the changes. Combining this new capability with one-to-many sub-records, this enables powerful new workflows that were not previously possible.

Example of a building inspection report

How auto-merge works

Let’s walk through an example of how auto-merge works:

Certain building inspections require inspectors to visit each room within a structure to conduct safety audits, look for fire protection, or to inspect electrical & plumbing. In large commercial buildings with potentially hundreds of individual rooms and offices, you might want to slice up the overall building’s inspection to be done by a team of 2 or 3 people, simultaneously. With a customized app built in Fulcrum, you could design an inspection survey that used our repeatable field functionality to create subtypes for ‘floors’ and ‘rooms’. Each of the inspectors could run through a different floor, and when they each synced up, all the information for floors and rooms would be merged into a single, finished building inspection report. The potential for time savings is immense.

This can be taken advantage of for hundreds of different requirements. Census surveys with questions for each household member, property surveys looking for code violations, park asset inventory, and so many more. With this auto-merging functionality, working with teams of users in the field just got easier. You get a big boost in reliability and data integrity without sacrificing the easy-to-use mobile data collection tools for your survey or inspection teams.