Error parsing form - syntax error

What is the problem? Please be detailed.
I have created an ODK form in xls and converted to xml. It works ok in Enketo, but ODK validate finds some problem at line 1, column 5. I can't see what I've done wrong! Any help? This is the error message

Parsing form...
XML Syntax Error at Line: 1, Column: 5!
org.xmlpull.v1.XmlPullParserException: PI must not start with xml (position:unknown xm@1:5 in

What ODK tool and version are you using? And on what device and operating system version?
ODK xlsform

What steps can we take to reproduce the problem?

What you have you tried to fix the problem?

Anything else we should know or have? If you have a test form or screenshots or logs, attach here.
Can't seem to upload attachments as a new user, but the fifth column is just 'relevant'.

Ok now I'm a 'basic' member I'm able to attach the relevant files - I've attached the xls form, and more of the response from ODK validate.

Mother_v1_linear.xls (241.5 KB)

I was able to parse the xls file and load it in my phone. Do I miss anything to replicate this?

Great thanks! Please can you tell me how you did it / steps you took? Maybe I missed a step. Did you use an xml converter to convert from xls to xml?


I'm following the instruction here to convert the form:
The url to convert is mentioned in that page, but in case you just want to go there it's this url:

And I downloaded the latest ODK Validate (1.7.0) and confirmed that it the form is valid.

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Thanks. Was helpful to know there wasn't something wrong with the form itself! It turns out that it works fine on a PC - seems to be a mac problem converting to xml.

Helen, I'm glad this is working, but just so we can prevent others from running into this, we should track down the core issue. What version of macOS and ODK Validate are you using? And if it's possible, can you share your form?

Hi, sure.

The form was attached in an earlier post (below the error message screenshot).

Mac is OS X Yosemite and ODK Validate (1.7.0).

However I have since discovered it's not a mac issue but actually the problem was the xml converter. I was originally using one online ( on my mac.

I was able to make it work using converters that ODK recommend on my Windows PC (using XLSForm from here: and my mac (using XLSForm Offline by Nafundi).