Community Update - 2017-11-08

Hi ODKers! We sometimes have to send important announcements (like this community update) to everyone in the community. We rarely send announcements, so please don't unwatch or unsubscribe from this category or you will miss out on very important information!

ODK 1: Speed improvements, a new docs website, and big changes to geo widgets that need your feedback

Since the last announcement in July, ODK Collect, ODK Build, and ODK Briefcase have received new features and hundreds of bug fixes and performance improvements. A few of the highlights are:

  • Collect - GPS update for faster locks and precision
  • Collect - modern interface for searching and sorting forms
  • Collect - image downscaling for faster uploads
  • Briefcase - downloads submissions in parallel for much faster pulls
  • Briefcase - checks for existing submissions also happen much faster
  • Briefcase - choose date range for export in user interface
  • Build - cascading selects (e.g., continent -> country -> state)
  • Build - copy and paste values from Excel into form
  • Build - support form properties like instance name and encryption

We ship updates to ODK tools every month, so we strongly recommend watching the Releases category to get notified of these new releases. If you don't know how, learn how to watch a topic.

We've also made huge strides in consolidating and improving the documentation. You can see the updated and unified docs at If there is a piece of documentation that you need that is missing, please file a docs issue!

For the developers among you, did you know we have monthly developer calls? No? SAD! Join us on December 6, 2017 from 14-15 UTC, and to make sure you are well-prepared, read over the agenda and meeting notes.

Finally, geopoint, geoshape, and geowidgets will soon undergo significant changes to bring them in line with the form specification and improve their usability. Please read the discussion on geo widgets improvements for Collect and offer your feedback on the changes. We don't want to build something you don't want!

ODK 2: Production release and developer calls

The ODK 2.0 Tool Suite has been released and is available for download! Read all about the latest release of ODK 2.0, try it out, and let us know what you think.

The ODK 2.0 Tool Suite (will be renamed as part of ODK transition) is an alternative to the ODK 1.x Tool Suite rather than a replacement. ODK 2.0 is designed for information management applications and includes:

  • Bi-directional synchronization of data across devices
  • Complex/non-linear workflows
  • Data curation and visualization on the device
  • Fully customizable layout of prompts on the Android device
  • More flexible, user-directed navigation of a survey
  • Linking longitudinal data to collected data
  • Data visibility based on user permissions
  • Reuse of data fields across forms

The initial release of the 2.0 Tool Suite consists of Tables, Survey, Services, App Designer, Sync Endpoint, and Suitcase. Going forward we plan to continue monthly releases of ODK 2.0 so be sure to watch the Releases category to get notified of updates.

The ODK 2.0 team will be setting up regular developer calls in the month of November. If you are interested, sign up.

Overall project management and governance

We have finalized the governance around the Technical Steering Committee (TSC)! The TSC will be responsible for the technical leadership of the project and it is a good opportunity for those who want to help lead the ODK project to step forward.

Please review the TSC responsibilities and governance discussion. We expect to open up nominations for the TSC shortly, so watch the above topic for updates!

And speaking of updates, we know it's hard to keep up with everything that's going on with the transition of the governance of ODK. We've published two topics on the forum that we recommend you watch.

If you don't know how to watch a topic, learn how.

Quick ways you can help

There are close to 6,000 people on the ODK forum. We have an incredible community and it's so motivating when we hear from you! If you haven’t already, please introduce yourself. We'd also encourage you to add a real picture as your avatar because it helps build community!

As I always say, ODK only gets better if everyone contributes and your contribution makes a very big difference. You don't have to be a programmer or an expert user, you just have to want to help! Here are some other quick ways to contribute.

One more thing

Mitch Sundt (@Mitch_S) retired from UW and ODK at the end of September. Mitch joined ODK as a software engineer at UW-CSE in 2010 and helped lead the software development on the core tools (both ODK 1 and ODK 2) for seven years.

In addition to making sure the growing number of ODK tools got better and better on each release, Mitch also provided incredible technical support to the thousands of users who needed a little bit of help using or building on ODK.

ODK could not be where it is today without the work Mitch poured into the code and the community and so we wanted to thank him for his contributions over the years and wish him a happy retirement!