Choosing the best offline form builder?

Hi all,

I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration
using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the
offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors
without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code
directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better
to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward?

We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which
form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no
internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free.
XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in
learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long
survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc,
without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose
problems down the road?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Many thanks,
Jon

Hi Jon, are you familiar with USAID's FPPM project, implemented by DAI.
They have been conducting extensive mobile data collections since early
2012. They are successfully using Samsung Galaxy Tabs and Formhub in urban
and rural areas of western DRC. If you aren't familiar yet, i can connect
you to their staff (some of which participate in this group when they can).

Brody

··· On Jul 13, 2013 12:09 PM, "Jonathan Weigel" wrote:

Hi all,

I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration
using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the
offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors
without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code
directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better
to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward?

We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which
form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no
internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free.
XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in
learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long
survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc,
without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose
problems down the road?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Many thanks,
Jon

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Hi,

I've just returned from the DRC in fact, and XLSform worked fine for me.

The only thing I've had problems with was referring to values in repeating
roster (for example displaying the name or age of a household member on
screen, or using it in logic). I'm not sure if this is an issue specific to
XLSform, but it's easy to get around using it. I've just manually repeated
the household roster twenty times (as you know, Congolese household can get
big...). If you're smart about setting up everything in excel, it's just
coyping the same thing 20 times, and excel updates the numbers so that all
variable names etc. are unique.

Koen

··· On Saturday, July 13, 2013 11:46:20 AM UTC+2, Jonathan Weigel wrote: > > Hi all, > > I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of > Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration > using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the > offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors > without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code > directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better > to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward? > > We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which > form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no > internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free. > XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in > learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long > survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc, > without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose > problems down the road? > > Any advice would be hugely appreciated! > > Many thanks, > Jon >

Hi Jon,

If you can get the page loaded once, CommCare HQ's form builder might work
well for you (you can use it to build forms and not use CommCare mobile).
It will work offline and let you preview XML, just save/loading won't work.
https://www.commcarehq.org/

We were using an old fork of what turned into Kobo's form builder before
rewriting our own form builder from scratch after deciding that the
underlying code was too buggy to be able to use long term.

If you're a developer you can also try setting up a local copy of the
standalone form builder which you could just copy onto a local html file,
though the standalone version is older and no longer actively maintained.

(depending on your requirements formhub may also be a great solution - I'm
not as up to speed on the current capabilities of their tool)

cory

··· On Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 1:44 PM, Brody Dittemore wrote:

Hi Jon, are you familiar with USAID's FPPM project, implemented by DAI.
They have been conducting extensive mobile data collections since early
2012. They are successfully using Samsung Galaxy Tabs and Formhub in urban
and rural areas of western DRC. If you aren't familiar yet, i can connect
you to their staff (some of which participate in this group when they can).

Brody
On Jul 13, 2013 12:09 PM, "Jonathan Weigel" jweigel@fas.harvard.edu wrote:

Hi all,

I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration
using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the
offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors
without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code
directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better
to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward?

We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which
form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no
internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free.
XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in
learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long
survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc,
without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose
problems down the road?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Many thanks,
Jon

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FYI, we have added an indexed-repeat() function into the SurveyCTO version (
www.surveycto.com), which allows for flexible referencing of field values
within prior repeat groups. In general, we've tried to make it so that you
don't have to do the "long-hand repeats" where you copy fields over and
over again. indexed-repeat() and related changes have been offered back to
the ODK team, and I think that they will be coming in a future Collect
release -- perhaps not too far into the future.

Best,

Chris

··· On Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 5:55 AM, Koen wrote:

Hi,

I've just returned from the DRC in fact, and XLSform worked fine for me.

The only thing I've had problems with was referring to values in repeating
roster (for example displaying the name or age of a household member on
screen, or using it in logic). I'm not sure if this is an issue specific to
XLSform, but it's easy to get around using it. I've just manually repeated
the household roster twenty times (as you know, Congolese household can get
big...). If you're smart about setting up everything in excel, it's just
coyping the same thing 20 times, and excel updates the numbers so that all
variable names etc. are unique.

Koen

On Saturday, July 13, 2013 11:46:20 AM UTC+2, Jonathan Weigel wrote:

Hi all,

I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration
using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the
offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors
without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code
directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better
to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward?

We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which
form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no
internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free.
XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in
learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long
survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc,
without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose
problems down the road?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Many thanks,
Jon

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For complex and long surveys xlsforms are the way to go. Well worth making
the investment to learn the format.

Once you have that you can use with formhub or concert to xform and use
with aggregate, commcare, surveycto etc

··· On Saturday, July 13, 2013, Cory Zue wrote:

Hi Jon,

If you can get the page loaded once, CommCare HQ's form builder might work
well for you (you can use it to build forms and not use CommCare mobile).
It will work offline and let you preview XML, just save/loading won't work.
https://www.commcarehq.org/

We were using an old fork of what turned into Kobo's form builder before
rewriting our own form builder from scratch after deciding that the
underlying code was too buggy to be able to use long term.

If you're a developer you can also try setting up a local copy of the
standalone form builder which you could just copy onto a local html file,
though the standalone version is older and no longer actively maintained.
https://github.com/dimagi/vellum/tree/standalone

(depending on your requirements formhub may also be a great solution - I'm
not as up to speed on the current capabilities of their tool)

cory

On Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 1:44 PM, Brody Dittemore <brodydittemore@gmail.com<javascript:_e({}, 'cvml', 'brodydittemore@gmail.com');> wrote:

Hi Jon, are you familiar with USAID's FPPM project, implemented by DAI.
They have been conducting extensive mobile data collections since early
2012. They are successfully using Samsung Galaxy Tabs and Formhub in urban
and rural areas of western DRC. If you aren't familiar yet, i can connect
you to their staff (some of which participate in this group when they can).

Brody
On Jul 13, 2013 12:09 PM, "Jonathan Weigel" <jweigel@fas.harvard.edu<javascript:_e({}, 'cvml', 'jweigel@fas.harvard.edu');>> wrote:

Hi all,

I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration
using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the
offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors
without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code
directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better
to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward?

We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which
form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no
internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free.
XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in
learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long
survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc,
without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose
problems down the road?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Many thanks,
Jon

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Thanks very much, Koen and Chris. We have our survey and up and
running using XLSform, which we found a big improvement. Thanks for
your suggestions. Yes, households here can be quite large....

All best,
Jon

··· On 7/15/13, Christopher Robert wrote: > FYI, we have added an indexed-repeat() function into the SurveyCTO version > ( > www.surveycto.com), which allows for flexible referencing of field values > within prior repeat groups. In general, we've tried to make it so that you > don't have to do the "long-hand repeats" where you copy fields over and > over again. indexed-repeat() and related changes have been offered back to > the ODK team, and I think that they will be coming in a future Collect > release -- perhaps not too far into the future. > > Best, > > Chris > > > > On Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 5:55 AM, Koen wrote: > >> Hi, >> >> I've just returned from the DRC in fact, and XLSform worked fine for me. >> >> The only thing I've had problems with was referring to values in >> repeating >> roster (for example displaying the name or age of a household member on >> screen, or using it in logic). I'm not sure if this is an issue specific >> to >> XLSform, but it's easy to get around using it. I've just manually >> repeated >> the household roster twenty times (as you know, Congolese household can >> get >> big...). If you're smart about setting up everything in excel, it's just >> coyping the same thing 20 times, and excel updates the numbers so that >> all >> variable names etc. are unique. >> >> Koen >> >> On Saturday, July 13, 2013 11:46:20 AM UTC+2, Jonathan Weigel wrote: >>> >>> Hi all, >>> >>> I'm on a team of researchers working in the Democratic Republic of >>> Congo. We've been using Samsung Galaxy tablets for survey enumeration >>> using KoboCollect. We've been pretty frustrated with bugs in the >>> offline Kobo Form Builder: it's hard to update forms or fix errors >>> without erasing previous changes. We've ended up editing the xml code >>> directly in a lot of cases. So we are wondering if it would be better >>> to use XLSForm (or another form builder) moving forward? >>> >>> We are about to program a much longer survey and are wondering which >>> form builder you all think would be best for somewhere with almost no >>> internet? We just want something that is straightforward and bug free. >>> XLSForm seems to fit those criteria but before investing in >>> learning a new interface we wanted to see if it can handle a long >>> survey, somewhat complex skip patterns, multiple languages, etc, >>> without problems? Is dynamic updating (after piloting) going to pose >>> problems down the road? >>> >>> Any advice would be hugely appreciated! >>> >>> Many thanks, >>> Jon >>> >> -- >> -- >> Post: opendatakit@googlegroups.com >> Unsubscribe: opendatakit+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com >> Options: http://groups.google.com/group/opendatakit?hl=en >> >> --- >> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups >> "ODK Community" group. >> To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an >> email to opendatakit+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com. >> For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/groups/opt_out. >> >> >> >