Florian Mayer - TAB Application - 2020-09-01

Florian Mayer (@Florian_May)

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Western Australia

What contributions (e.g., issue triage, tech support, documentation, bug fixes) have you made to the ODK community?
On the Forum I've assisted with ODK Central sandbox invites, suggested new features, and shared a few technical wins (e.g. set up ODK Central on Azure/k8s).

On GH, I've contributed issues (mainly to ODK Build and Central), minor PRs, and likely caused many a headache for Issa and Matt. Issa holds the speed record for fixing a bug in ODK Build within 2h while I was holding an ODK workshop to my colleagues.

On transifex, I've started the German translation for ODK Central, which Dieter Menne gracefully completed.

My "claim to fame" is the R package ruODK, which is used in production at DBCA, and has seen its first community uptake.

How do you believe your contributions have benefited ODK?
ruODK connects the ODK ecosystem to R, and thus empowers users to build FOSS data analysis and dissemination pipelines in an automated and reproducible fashion. Going the extra mile through peer-review and association with the rOpenSci community has raised code quality and robustness.

During the ODK Convening 2019 I've contributed our Department's requirements and use cases (especially around longitudinal surveys).

My contributions on the forum have hopefully assisted some ODK community members.

What do you believe the top priorities for ODK are?

  1. To continue building and supporting its inclusive and international user community.
  2. To make the technically hard bits accessible to the enthusiastic non-expert user - e.g. server setup and maintenance, also survey design from idea to XForm/XLSForm, as well as analysis (e.g. worked examples in ruODK).
  3. To find/iterate on a viable funding/governance/branding model.

How will you help the ODK community accomplish those priorities?
Apart from contributing to discussions at TAB, I can contribute to the items above:

  1. Primarily through maintaining ruODK and supporting its users.
  2. Formally through contributions to documentation and informally through participation on the forum.
  3. Above my pay grade, but I wanted to recognize this as a priority for the longevity of ODK.

As a long term mutual benefit of contributing to TAB, I could contribute visibility of the requirements of ODK users in WA Government. Any implemented requirement would be a win for the local ODK users (primarily my employer and the Flatback turtle program). Being on the inside (TAB) would help me to streamline our requirements into actionable items for ODK.

How many hours a week can you commit to participating on the TSC?
2-4 hours per week ongoing, plus some extra time where needed.

What other mobile data collection projects, social good projects, or open source projects are you involved with?
My primary work involves data capture using ODK for the North West Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program, or in short, to capture all turtle data in Western Australia through ODK (and the entire downstream of data warehousing, QA, reporting, dissemination).

Secondarily, I have a steady stream of DBCA colleagues soliciting my advice for mobile data capture. We typically iterate from idea to form design, parking lot data capture and building the analysis within about 2h, which can then be formalised and documented within a few days into an R package, e.g. https://dbca-wa.github.io/rOzCBI/

I am active in the rOpenSci community, and was active in the CKAN community. Claim to fame: reproducible reporting using CKAN & R (https://ckan.org/2015/09/18/pyramids-pipelines-and-a-can-of-sweave-ckan-asia-pacific-meetup/)

Please share any links to public resources (e.g., resume, blog, Github) that help support your application.


Hi @Florian_May :turtle:
What's something we could be doing (either doing new or doing better) to make the ODK community more inclusive?

1 Like

Hi Dan,

thanks for the question!

The ODK community is already doing a fantastic job in being welcoming and inclusive. If I had to suggest options to extend the community scope and audience, I'd propose to review and discuss:

Code of Conduct

Review the ODK CoC and the ODK forum guidelines and see what could be added, e.g. from the rOpenSci CoC (the other comunity doing inclusivity really well).

Would topics like allyship and diversity be appropriate to incorporate more explicitly?

Would acknowledging traditional custodians of the land on which work was done be appropriate? It's practiced here in Australia.

Language barrier

All of ODK's communication (docs, forum, github) is in English. I've seen users struggle to precisely formulate issues they ran into (both language and technical barriers), and others mis-interpret tone (e.g. polite German ==> terse English). In every case, the patient and friendly community members clarified things quickly.


ODK Central and Collect have made great use of Transifex to add translations. Translating the other ODK apps could be taken on well by the community.


To assist users on the forum more, would a paid moderator be an option? E.g. rOpenSci employs a community moderator.

Secondly, the ODK forum could get a "translate" button for posts. There's a discourse plugin and a plethora of browser add-ons (eg. Firefox).


The biggest language gap ODK could close would be to translate the docs. That could be a paid job for professional translators and editors. What languages would add the largest user groups?

Technical barrier

ODK is doing a fantastic job in simplifying software setup, especially for stand-alone users and those who are funded and permitted to procure hosted versions.

It is absolutely not ODK's responsibility or scope to support every infrastructure in the world, but if I could throw resources at making ODK more accessible to the corporate user, I'd sponsor working deployments for ODK Central on Kubernetes and make it easier for users (more accurately, their IT departments) to choose their own db, mail, etc subsystems.


Hi @Florian_May,

Thanks for the detailed application.

Apart from the odk forum, your place of work, how do you share about the "R package ruODK" so as to increase its popularity?