Building custom surveys

Hi all,

I'm looking for any examples of best practice (or interesting solutions!) to allow non-technical users to build their own surveys, using a pre-defined list of questions and answers. For example, users being able to select or drag-and-drop questions and then export their own custom survey.

Has anyone worked on something similar at all? Any open source solutions out there that I might have missed? I'm very interested in seeing any demonstrations of this - from impressive complex Excel macros, to GUI solutions. Similarly, any workarounds that others may have put together to tackle this issue without a full build would also be useful to discuss.



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Hi @Calum

you can use ODK Build or xls. When it comes to xls here is an example form with all widgets: and here you can find the documentation:

Hi Grzegorz,

Thanks for the quick reply. However, I don't think I've explained this too well!

ODK Build/XLSForms are great for starting forms from scratch. However, we have a set of existing forms (for example, household survey modules). Instead of developers having to copy and paste the relevant lines from Excel/strings from XML, I'd like a simpler way to build a survey using pre-developed questions. Like Build, but with questions already loaded so users can drag and drop them to build a survey. Does that make sense?



What you describe would be useful. We've been looking at a similar issue. How to best store/search/share survey questions/question-groups/etc.

KoboToolbox lets you create a "Library" of questions. But when I've tried it, I've not been happy with the functionality.

Hi Dan,

Agreed, it would be helpful! The Toolbox functionality isn't something I've used much at scale, but it's not hugely slick. How are you guys managing this? As an intermediary, I've tested building a database of questions/answers and then building a survey based on what users generate from that database - but it would be great to automate the workflow!


We don't have anything good in place. I've got a GoogleDrive folder full of old XLSForms and rely on my memory for which ones have questions done in clever ways that I like. Then it's a bunch of copy/paste. Internally, the people that do XLSForm stuff is probably about 5-10 people. Being able to automate the workflow and open it up to more people (i.e. with a GUI) would be great.

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@danbjoseph/@calum What are the main pain points with Kobo's form library?

Hi @yanokwa,

Sorry for the delay in replying! My main pain points were: not being able to upload questions in XML format (but it looks like this is now possible, so I'll have a play with this), and also not being able to set permissions for users - as currently, unless I'm mistaken, users can edit questions that they add from the library. I also found it quite resource-intensive on some less-powerful machines, which made it difficult when building bigger surveys. I also thought it would be useful to have the question library available offline, which I don't think is currently possible.

The functionality is exactly what I'm looking for, though, so perhaps it warrants a deeper test.