An Update to Trimble Positions Desktop add-in

Following the release of in October, our distribution partners helped us uncover a few additional issues that needed to be addressed. The issues (summarized below) have been fixed, the installation package has been updated, and the release notes have been revised. The version string visible in the administration window for this version is: (8.9757). The last bit in parentheses is the build number. For reference, the original release is build 8.9469 while the first three issues below were fixed in build 8.9684 posted around November 1st.

  • Can’t update metadata transfer fields after ArcPad QuickProject import. When using the “ArcPad QuickProject (import)” project type and workflow, there was no way to edit the metadata transfer field definitions after project creation. This has been resolved and metadata transfer fields can now be defined or edited after project creation and upon clicking “Update Features”, metadata will be properly transferred.
  • Could not store single TerraFlex photo URL to string field. At version, the ability to store a (single) photo URL for features in the TerraFlex workflow was introduced (in lieu of storing multiple photos as attachments). Configured via a field name string in the system.config file, this feature did not work as intended. This has now been resolved with the caveat being the URL must be used from within a browser window that has current authentication tokens for InSphere.
  • Very slow post-processing when using SQLite for the Trimble Positions office database. Some users reported an issue with very slow post-processing times. This issue was isolated to use of SQLite for the Trimble Positions office database and has now been resolved.
  • Feature height metadata value does not match Z value in feature geometry. In version, we addressed an issue whereby Z values were not appropriately adjusted for differences in reference ellipsoid height during horizontal datum transformations. This change resolved the issue with the Z portion of feature geometries but did not address the issue with feature height metadata. The former was correct while the latter was still displaying the incorrect value. The mathematical difference of these values is the difference in ellipsoid height between global and local datums at that location. This has now been resolved and the value will be correct in both places.
  • Vertical accuracy metadata value is always in the distance units of the horizontal coordinate system. Previously, the units on the vertical accuracy metadata value were set based only on the distance units of the horizontal coordinate system of the feature class. For Z-enabled (3D) feature classes that used the same distance units between horizontal and vertical coordinate systems selected, this was fine. However, if there was a difference in unit between the two (say, NAD83 State Plane US survey feet for horizontal and NAVD88 meters for vertical), the vertical accuracy metadata would be in a different unit than that of the actual feature height (Z). In the example given, the feature height (and Z value) would be in meters while the vertical accuracy would be in feet. This has been fixed and now the units on the vertical accuracy will always be the same as that of the actual feature height (and Z value).

Lastly, with regards to the NGS CORS download issue and initial (registry key) workaround described here, this workaround must be reversed in order for to work properly on Windows 7. If the registry key added in the workaround is not removed, NGS CORS base file downloads will still fail with the same SSL/TLS channel error message. This appears to be unique to Windows 7 and the existence of the workaround does not affect functionality on Windows 8/10.

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SSL/TLS and NGS CORS: Another Potential Workaround

For those Trimble Positions Desktop customers unable to upgrade to, or for those GPS Pathfinder Office customers for which the previously described workarounds aren’t actually working, one of our astute dealers reminded us of another solution.

NGS CORS still provides FTP access to base station files. By making a copy of the desired base station in our list (use the ‘Copy…’ button at the bottom of the list screen), you can edit the ‘Internet Server’ properties to provide different URL templates and then save it as a “user-defined” base station (the default behavior when you click ‘OK’ after editing the URL template strings):

Base File Address Format (24 hour data):

Nav File Address Format (24 hour data):

Base File Address Format (1 hour data; check FTP site to see if available)

Nav File Address Format (1 hour data; check FTP site to see if available)

Select Base Station formBase Station Properties form

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New Release – Trimble Positions Desktop add-in

We are pleased to announce a new release in the Trimble Positions suite: Trimble Positions Desktop add-in This release, which follows by only a few months (June 2018), resolves the issue with NGS CORS base file downloads (see previous blog post) in addition to providing official support for ArcGIS Desktop 10.6, 10.6.1, and older “point” releases (10.4.1, 10.5.1). It also includes numerous bug fixes and improvements which are detailed in the release notes. Highlights include:

  • Additional metadata is available for TerraSync and ArcPad workflows. The complete list of metadata options is now: horizontal accuracy (worst), vertical accuracy (worst), feature height (point), feature height – first vertex (line/polygon), feature  height – last vertex (line/polygon), X coordinate in current map coordinate system (point), Y coordinate in current map coordinate system (point), project name, session name, receiver type, PDOP, HDOP, created timestamp (local), correction status (most
    common in solution), and device name.
  • Handling for non-GNSS edits in an SSF file (TerraSync). The check-in functionality for SSFs has been improved to handle edits to features outside of a GNSS session. Features edited prior to the start of a session will be included in the first session. You will be prompted to import features edited after the end of a session, or from an SSF with no session information. This will include attribute-only feature edits.
  • Manage default data transfer folders for the bundled Data Transfer utility in the TerraSync workflow. New functionality is available in the Trimble Positions Desktop Configuration utility that allows you to manage the default folders used by the Data Transfer utility.
  • Support for photo URL stored to a string field. The name of a string field can now be specified for the storage of a single photo URL for TerraFlex forms (for example, to allow for use with Esri ArcGIS Desktop Basic).
  • Select All checkbox added to the Layers page of the project wizard. The long sought-after Select all checkbox has been added to the Layers page of the project creation wizard.

Additional information, including an enumeration of bug fixes and what field workflows they apply to, is available in the release notes:

Note: If you have issues upgrading the Trimble Positions Desktop add-in and the old version still appears, it may be worth manually cleaning the entry in ArcMap’s AssemblyCache after uninstalling the old version and before installing the new version. It’s generally in the following location (AssemblyCache is a hidden folder):

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SSL/TLS and NGS CORS – Support Note

[This post is a duplicate of one that will also soon exist on]


In September 2018, NGS CORS changed the security protocol requirements for applications attempting to download base station files from their servers via HTTPS. Applications are now required to be using one of the latest SSL/TLS protocols or attempts to download base station files will fail. Users of GPS Pathfinder Office or Trimble Positions Desktop add-in may start receiving errors when attempting to download base station files from NGS CORS base stations if the most recent protocols are not available or enabled on their desktop computer. Error messages may include the text “Could not create SSL/TLS secure channel.”

Although base station files can still be downloaded manually through the browser and used for post-processing in both GPS Pathfinder Office and Trimble Positions Desktop add-in, we recognize that this workaround is cumbersome and not appropriate for all users. Solutions for users of both Trimble desktop products are described below.

Older operating systems (Windows Vista/Windows Server 2008 and older) will not support the latest SSL/TLS protocols as per this article from Microsoft.

Solution for Trimble Positions Desktop add-in Users

Trimble Positions Desktop add-in uses Microsoft .NET Framework components for all web (FTP, HTTP, HTTPS) operations. As such, behavior is dependent on the combination of .NET Framework versions that the user has installed on the desktop as well as the version that the Trimble Positions Desktop add-in targets when compiled. For full compatibility back through ArcGIS Desktop 10.1, the add-in only targets .NET Framework 4.0. Unfortunately, default behavior for HTTPS operations in older .NET Framework versions does not include the latest SSL/TLS protocols.

In order to properly resolve this, we will be providing a new version of Trimble Positions Desktop add-in (expected to be released as In the interim, the following workaround can be used.

Interim Workaround

  1. Confirm that you have a recent .NET Framework version (>= 4.7) installed on your desktop computer. Note: this will be added as a prerequisite in the forthcoming version of Trimble Positions Desktop add-in.
  2. Add the following registry key to force .NET Framework 4.0 applications to use a more recent TLS protocol when performing https operations. This is a “DWORD (32-bit)” value of “1”.
    For 64-bit Windows:


    For 32-bit Windows:

  3. Restart the desktop computer and confirm proper base station file download behavior in Trimble Positions Desktop add-in.
  4. Verify https behavior in any other .NET Framework applications on the desktop computer (the registry change is safe as per Microsoft but will affect other .NET Framework applications).

Please refer to this Microsoft documentation for a detailed description of .NET Framework behavior in this area. A .reg file can also be downloaded from there although it contains 2 additional registry changes which are not required here.

Solution for GPS Pathfinder Office Users

GPS Pathfinder Office uses Windows operating system components to facilitate the access and download of base station files. To check whether your operating system is capable of using the latest SSL/TLS protocol, follow these steps:

  1. Open up Internet Explorer.
  2. Click on the Tools button.
  3. Select Internet Options.
  4. Select the Advanced tab.
  5. Scroll down to the Security section, and ensure ‘Use TLS 1.2’ is checked.

Once this option is checked close Internet Explorer. Now GPS Pathfinder Office should be able to download base station files from NGS CORS stations.

If the TLS 1.2 option is not available we recommend updating to the latest version of Internet Explorer and then checking again. If TLS 1.2 is still not available we recommend following the instructions published by Microsoft here.

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Issues Downloading CORS Base Station Files

We are aware of an issue that some customers are seeing when trying to download NGS CORS base station files through Trimble Positions Desktop. Downloads will fail with an error message that says “Could not create SSL/TLS secure channel” in the log. We are in communication with NGS regarding recent changes and intend to provide a workaround within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, you can always download base station files manually (using the links in the log file) and create a profile for a local folder where you will store them.

Check back here soon for more information.

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Potential Issue Installing Trimble Positions Desktop through RDP

When installing Trimble Positions Desktop add-in through a Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) in an enterprise environment, you may experience an apparent hang at the end of the installation. The last dialog you see will display the message “Please wait while the application is preparing for the first use” under the title “Windows Installer Coordinator”.

Thanks to some great detective work by a customer, the issue is a result of an incompatibility with the Embedded MSI technology (linked installers) and the Windows Installer coordinator as described in this Microsoft Support article. The workaround is to disable the Windows Installer RDS Compatibility (e.g., via Group Policy) for the duration of the installation.

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An Alternative to the Data Dictionary Editor for TerraSync Workflows

As most Pathfinder Office and TerraSync users know well, the Data Dictionary Editor is a critical piece of the TerraSync workflow. With the support for TerraSync workflows in Trimble Positions Desktop, we lessened quite a bit of the reliance on the Data Dictionary Editor as schema is picked up directly from the source geodatabase. However, there are still important use-cases for the Data Dictionary Editor and being able to make fine grain changes to the presentation of the schema (and symbology) for the field TerraSync user. Users of Trimble Positions Desktop can export a TerraSync project to a DDF and then open this DDF for editing. After editing, the DDF can be brought back into Trimble Positions Desktop to ensure that it is applied for future check-outs. However, as the Data Dictionary Editor is a separate program (regardless of whether it’s installed through Pathfinder Office or Trimble Positions Desktop) that knows nothing about Trimble Positions, or where the DDF originated, it is too easy to make changes to the DDF that break the check-in when data is brought back from the field.

To address this long-standing problem, we have built a new dictionary editor, called the Positions TerraSync Dictionary Editor, that can be used to edit the dictionary ‘in place’ (i.e., directly from the Trimble Positions office database) and prevent breaking changes. It provides a subset of functionality from the original Data Dictionary Editor but should cover the majority of use-cases. It is currently being provided as a stand-alone tool although it could very well become part of Trimble Positions Desktop proper in a future release. In order to use it, you must be using Trimble Positions Desktop add-in v10.5.0.1 or higher.

Highlights include:

  • More streamlined workflow as dictionaries are edited directly inside a Trimble Positions Desktop project: no need to save to a DDF file, edit it, and then update from the DDF file.
  • Protects against breaking dictionary compatibility with a geodatabase. The new editor is familiar with the geodatabase schema from which a dictionary is created and prevents changes that may violate it. For example, length of a text attribute cannot be larger than the length of the originating feature class field.
  • Supports advanced Trimble Positions functionality, like adding additional photo/file attributes if a layer has attachments enabled or hiding large numbers used as minimum and maximum values for numeric attributes.
  • Allows TerraSync to use symbology from ArcGIS map documents making dictionary creation much simpler.

The tool, along with basic documentation, can be requested from your Trimble distribution partner.

Positions TerraSync Dictionary EditorPositions TerraSync Dictionary Editor

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Problems Editing a TerraSync Project with Subtyped Layers

A customer recently reported an issue with the TerraSync check-out/check-in workflow when using layers with subtypes. Specifically, features collected with different subtypes (remember that each subtype creates its own feature type in the data dictionary) get checked back in to the geodatabase all under the same subtype. This problem doesn’t manifest itself until you try editing the project through the project wizard and running through to the last page and clicking ‘Finish’. Once you do that, all future check-ins will be affected even if you use the existing data dictionary. A workaround for this is to avoid editing the project through the project wizard after it’s created. If you need to access the ‘Save to DDF’ / ‘Edit DDF’ / ‘Update from DDF’ functionality for an existing project, that’s fine…but once you are done on that ‘Project Options’ page in the wizard, just click the ‘X’ or ‘Cancel’ to close the wizard window and do not click ‘Next >’ to proceed through to the end of the wizard. When using the ‘Update from DDF’ functionality, changes are stored immediately and you do not need to complete the wizard. You will need to take care when setting the metadata transfer fields and accuracy thresholds for such projects when you first create them.

This will be fixed in the next release.

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Upcoming Webinar – Geodetics for GIS Data Collection

Based on some recent support cases and discussions with dealers and customers at the Esri UC, we thought it a good time to have a discussion about geodetic topics relevant for high accuracy GIS data collection workflows.

On August 23rd next week, we’ll be discussing these topics in a Trimble Geospatial GIS Power Hour:

  • What are the basic geodetic concepts necessary for GIS users?
  • How are coordinate systems handled through differential correction?
  • What is the impact of reference frame and epoch on both real-time correction and post-processing workflows?
  • How are feature heights affected by coordinate system settings?
  • How can users obtain the “best” accuracy when storing features in their GIS?

Please click the link below to register for one of the two offerings: 8a/4p MDT (UTC-06:00)

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A New (and significantly improved) Website for Trimble Positions

In case you hadn’t discovered it yet on your own, there’s a new home on the web for all Trimble Geospatial products and solutions:

We spent a considerable amount of time updating (long overdue) our Trimble Positions content including workflow descriptions and diagrams. In keeping with the organization of the site, Trimble Positions content is split between the Office Software section and the Field Software section. Please take a look and let us know what you think.

Trimble Positions Desktop add-in

Trimble Positions Field extensions

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