Auto-populating questions with ODK

Hey everyone,

I'm totally new to this, and I'm working to determine which data collection app is best for the purposes of my organzation. ODK meets most criteria (works offline, open source, works in Spanish), but I need to make sure the data collection process is as flexible as can be. For example, we want to do surveys with groups testing information retention according to the trainigns that each group has received. Ideally, we would be able to enter the name of the group and choose the sets of questions that correspond with that group's unique trajectory of trainings. Using Tangerine, we have to enter questions manually each time for each group, which is very cumbersome. Can someone tell me if ODK is capable of this?

Many thanks.

Hey Kristyn,

Could you provide further details on what you mean? Do you mean that if you enter a group name (or select a group name) the questions that follow would be specific to that group? So for example, do you want branching logic in the survey that is determined by the group that is selected?

Happy to offer more advice, just wanted to make sure I understand the problem you're having first.

[Full disclosure, I work for SurveyCTO, which is a a supported, hosted version of ODK with extra features.]

Hope I can help,

Hey Ruthie,

Thanks for your help. What you have described is exactly what we need.
Thanks for your patience and understanding. I'm just learning!


Ok, yes that is possibly in ODK and SurveyCTO. On the SurveyCTO side, we have sample forms, documentation, and guidance on how to set that up on our website. On the ODK side, there might be other users here who have some examples of how they set it up.

That's helpful. I've looked into Survey OTC and unfortunately, I am unable
to consider that an option because we are a low-budget organization and
need something that is open source. Thanks!

Hi Kristyn,

Are you able to share your form/questionnaire? I want to determine if I
will be able to assist with the form design.

Best and Regards

Hi Ronald,

Thanks for your response. At this time, I do not have access to the
questionnaire. Perhaps you can help. At this point, all we're trying to
find out is which open source app to use and if ODK has the capacity to
auto-populate questions (if we can assign questions to certain groups based
on which training each group has received). I'm not sure if that's clear.


Hi Kristyn,

It looks like ODK is a perfect fit for your use case. I would suggest that
you actually try out some of the options you have. Code the forms, collect
sample data, export the data and see if the chosen solution works before
making a commitment. I am more than happy to help with with evaluating ODK
and Aggregate or other hosting service (all work will be purely voluntary)

Best and Regards
Ronald Munjoma

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Hi Ronald,

Thanks so much for your help. Do you happen to know anything about Kobo
Toolbox or Formhub, specifically, whether or not these apps can help with
the kind of question auto-population that we need?

Thanks again.

Hi Kristyn,

As I said on the formhub mailing list, formhub is a dead project. If you
are interested in a project similar to formhub look at (developed by
former formhubers)

Kobotoolbox is been actively developed and supported, kobocollect is an ODK
derivative. The kobotoolbox mailing list responses seem to be slow these

As said early code your form and test your workflows with the various
tools. Good thing is the form will be compatible across the various tools.

Best and Regards
Ronald Munjoma

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Thanks. I hadn't checked the formhub mailing list. What do you mean by a dead project? I will look into the options you listed.


Another question. Can you help me understand what it is that Kobo can do
that ODK cannot?

It was a nice option for the aggregation of collected data with a web interface and user accounts and whatnot but it's no longer actively maintained. So it continues to fall further out of date. We are still running an instance on an Amazon EC2 but are looking to shut it down sometime in the future. There are an increasing number of glitches, and also improvements to the ODK project that aren't compatible.

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That's super helpful. Thanks.

We can't enumerate all the possibilities because software is always changing! Go to and try it out.

I want to highlight what @Ronald_Munjoma has said because he's very right!

Your forms and process will be nearly identical regardless of which client (ODK Collect, Enketo, etc) or backend (ODK Aggregate, Ona, etc) in the ODK ecosystem you choose so looking at how you would design your form is the best place to start.

If you haven't already stumbled across it is an excellent resource when learning how to code forms.

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