Community Update - 2018-07-17

Hi ODKers! We sometimes send important announcements to everyone in the community. These are rare (at most every 3 months), so please don't unwatch or unsubscribe from this category or you will miss out on very important information!


The biggest news we've got to share is that we've launched a modern new ODK website at! Like all things ODK, the website can and does change with your feedback, so please take a look and post your feedback in the Website category or propose your changes on Github.

The website includes some information on the various suites of software that the ODK community produces. To summarize, our community produces two suites of software: ODK 1 (often just called ODK) and ODK 2. Each ODK suite contains tools that work together to collect, use, and manage data, but the two suites require different levels of technical skill, are at different stages of adoption, and are incompatible.

The ODK 1 suite contains our most well-known and widely deployed tools, so we recommend you start with it. And if you find that the ODK 1 suite and accompanying ecosystem does not meet your needs, try the ODK 2 suite. You can find more information at


ODK 1 contain widely deployed tools like Collect, Aggregate, XLSForm, Build, and Briefcase that support the most common data collection use cases. These tools are proven at scale and are compatible with a large ecosystem (e.g., Ona, Enketo, Kobo, ELMO).

New features and bug fixes

Since the last community announcement in November, Collect, Aggregate, and Briefcase have received some great new features and hundreds of bug fixes. A few of the highlights are:

  • Collect: Form updates can trigger notifications and automatic background downloads
  • Collect: Dark theme for collecting data at night and saving battery life
  • Collect: Even better Google Drive/Sheets support (e.g., multimedia, repeats)
  • Aggregate: An easier to use and modern Aggregate VM
  • Aggregate: Prevent infinite refresh or failing exports
  • Aggregate: View attached audit file that logs enumerator behavior
  • Briefcase: Faster launch for users with many forms
  • Briefcase: Support for customizable bulk exports
  • Briefcase: Rewrite command line interface and add more commands
  • Form design: Attach any file on device with question type: file
  • Form design: Include a clickable SVG with image-map appearance for single and multiple selects
  • Form design: Randomize order of items in select_one and select_multiple

Over the next few weeks, we'll be adding SMS submissions to Collect, dramatic speedups to Briefcase, and security improvements to Aggregate!

You can download the latest versions of ODK 1 tools at ODK 1 Downloads or watch the Releases category to get notified of new releases. If you don't know how, learn how to watch a topic.

Improvements to docs

What's the old saying? If it's not in the docs, it doesn't exist. Well, we've been putting a lot of effort making sure our form design documentation exists! Some of our favorite docs so far are:

If there is a piece of documentation that you need, please file a docs issue so we can add it!

Try a new ODK 1 server

A few weeks ago, we launched a new ODK 1 server called Central. Central does not yet have all the functionality of established servers like Aggregate, but it does the basics of hosting forms and submissions very well! It also has some nice features like:

  • Simplified user interface with checklists to reduce training
  • OData feed for live-updating reports in Excel, Power BI, or Tableau
  • Extensible through a RESTful API to users, forms, and submissions

Read the Central docs and try the alpha!

Ever wonder who decides what gets built?

The ODK 1 Technical Steering Committee (TSC) is responsible for the work on ODK 1. The ODK 1 TSC meets every two weeks to discuss the ODK 1 Roadmap. Big thanks to @Shobhit_Agarwal, @alxndrsn, @yanokwa, @Batkinson, @adam.butler, @aurdipas, @LN, @tomsmyth, and @Ukang_a_Dickson for the work they do guiding ODK 1.

The ODK 1 TSC takes their direction from you, so if there is a feature that you'd like to add to ODK 1, file a feature request at Features category. And if you are a developer, head over to our GitHub and Slack and help us build those features!

If you'd like to serve on the ODK 1 TSC, you are in luck because the TSC is accepting applications! Learn more here: ODK 1 TSC Election.


The ODK 2 Tool Suite is designed for information management applications and includes features such as: bi-directional synchronization of data across devices, linking longitudinal data to collected data, and support for complex/non-linear workflows.

Recent improvements

A few of the recent ODK 2 improvements are:

  • Improvements to reduce tool initialization time
  • Improved Survey performance for select prompts and translations
  • Survey date/time widget improvements
  • Digest authentication added to Sync Client
  • Row permission filters added to the Sync Endpoint Web UI
  • Add the ability to configure Services' Server Settings with a barcode

An "alpha" of a new tool named ODK Submit will be released in August that includes peer-to-peer transfer/synchronization functionality for the ODK 2 Tool Suite.

You can download the latest versions of ODK 2 tools at ODK 2 Downloads or watch the Releases category to get notified of new releases. If you don't know how, learn how to watch a topic.

The ODK 2 docs site is live

The ODK 2 Docs site has launched! The documentation has been spruced up and migrated to Sphinx. The updated documentation includes getting started tutorials, user guides, and reference materials. It also includes documentation for different user perspectives including: app users, deployment architects, platform developers, and system administrators. Community contributions to the Docs are welcome using pull requests, and please report issues you find!

Participate in the ODK 2 developer calls

The ODK 2 team holds two ODK 2 developer meetings a month at different times to accommodate interested parties in various parts of the world. Find the latest call at ODK 2 Developer Calls!

One more thing

OK, maybe this is more like two more things, but the forum has two great new features that you should know about.

  1. We have a showcase on all the amazing people doing amazing things with ODK in the showcase at Showcase. Take a moment to read over the showcase and contribute! And big thanks to @iamnarendrasingh for his work on the user interviews!

  2. We started a map of users at User Map. Add your location in your profile to put yourself on the map. Note that the map is public, so perhaps just put your city or town.