Build permanently shut down on Feb 1st, 2024

On Feb 1st, 2024, we will permanently shut down the ODK Build web app at build.getodk.org, delete all user-created forms on that server, and archive the accompanying code repository.

We are taking these actions because:

  • Build has a shrinking user-base (~800/month) and we believe our new XLSForm template and XLSForm tutorial can serve the majority of those users. We will be providing more tutorials and guides over time.
  • Build's core code has not received meaningful updates in the last few years. Any ODK app that isnā€™t being updated is a security risk.
  • It would take a lot of resources to bring Build up-to-date with the entity-centric future we have planned for ODK. There are more impactful areas where we could use our limited resources.

Here is the timeline for the shut down:

  • Nov 1st, 2023: Email every Build account holder and ask them to export their forms to XLSForm.
  • Dec 1st, 2023: Disable new account creation.
  • Feb 1st, 2024: Shut down the server and schedule the deletion of all user-created data.

As part of the archival process we follow, we will update the documentation and code repository to inform users that Build is no longer being updated. The code will be available for anyone who wishes to fork and evolve it.

Over its lifetime, Build has helped 113K users create 226K forms! It's an extraordinary achievement, and Iā€™d like to take this opportunity to thank @issa for creating Build 14 years ago to the day and for maintaining it for so long.

We know that having an easy-to-use form builder is important and we remain committed to reducing all barriers to building forms in ODK. Stay tuned!

4 Likes

Hi Yanokwa, thank you for this information. Please, could you provide a bit more clarity about the implication of shutting down Build permanently on February 1st 2024?

For instance, I am currently using forms that I generated on the Build platform for data collection via ODK Collect, and I will be collecting data up until mid-year 2024. When Build is permanently shut down, what will happen to these forms? Will they disappear from the app? Will they stop working in any way? Will the form IDs still be recognised on the ONA platform?

Please advise.

Thank you.

Hint: KoboToolbox Formbuilder is still an available option.

@Afolayan If you have published the form you created on Build to a data collection server like Central (or Aggregate or Kobo or Ona) nothing will happen to that published form. It will keep working because the data collection server is entirely separate from Build. When you published, you essentially saved a copy of the form you designed on Build to the data collection server.

Regardless, it would be wise to export the form from Build and save it as an XLSForm (and not XML) so you can edit or otherwise re-use that form at some point in the future.

1 Like

Yes, there are various ODK-compatible services that have graphical form builders. We recommend users learn XLSForm because:

  1. It's what the ODK team tests, documents, and supports
  2. It's guaranteed to be up-to-date as far as the question types and form logic functions
  3. It's currently the only way to use entities which enable complex workflows like longitudinal data collection and case management
2 Likes

Fully agree to focus on XLSForm. It also
4. offers some advanced features not available in the form builders
5. avoids automatic naming of questions and choices (often with uncomfortable code results)
6. allows reuse of choice lists
7. facilitates use of Excel spelling check, search, renaming, filter etc.
8. etc.

Formbuilders also favour the illusion that you can simply click together a survey without having to familiarise yourself with the tool documentation and with survey methodology.

2 Likes

Hello,

We have been using ODKBuild + ODKCollect for ~5 years. We are investigating the conversion to XLSForms as suggested, however, we would like to know if existing .xml forms that were built in ODKBuild will still be useable in ODKCollect after February 1st 2024?

We have many dozens of .xml/.odkbuild files that are still active, and will continue to be so in 2024. We are happy to continue using the established .xml files in ODKCollect, even if we can no longer edit them, as long as they will still collect data that can be extracted? I will convert all forms to XLS as a precaution.

Furthermore, is the XLSForms system free to use, as ODKCollect/ODKBuild were? We typically self-manage our data and associated servers. If we can build forms and collect data with an XLS system, and if the data extraction/download is simple (Python at first glance?) that would be ideal.

Thanks in advance.

Hi @J.AWC, when you get a chance, please introduce yourself here. I'd also encourage you to add a real picture as your avatar because it helps build community!

The .xml forms that were built in Build will continue to work just as normal because they don't live in Build. They live in whatever server (e.g., Aggregate, Central) you uploaded or published them to. And they will continue to work on that server and with any client (e.g., Collect) connected to that server.

Despite this, you should export all your Build forms to XLSForm out of an abundance of caution. It ensures you have a backup copy of the forms you designed in a format that is easy to edit.

XLSForm is free to use, but it's a form design format/document so comparing it to Build/Collect isn't appropriate because those are tools/apps/systems that build/process/render those forms.

I get the sense you want to know the recommend end-to-end path for users to follow. We detail that at https://docs.getodk.org/getting-started, but to summarize, we recommend you design forms with XLSForm, upload the forms to Central server (self-hosted or running in ODK Cloud), and fill out the forms with the Collect mobile app and send them to Central, and download the form data back from Central UI.

All the above software above is open-source and available at no cost. ODK Cloud, is a paid service, but you aren't paying for the software, you're paying for fully-managed and supported hosting of Central.

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