How to remove survey name from headers after submission in ODK Collect?

What is the problem? Please be detailed.
When I submit my data in ODK Collect to Google Sheets, my variable names in Google are automatically generated using the survey name prefixed to the names I've assigned. So for a survey named household_survey, this means all my variable names end up in my sheet looking like this:


But I want them to be named like this:


Is there something I'm missing? It's not a big issue but it does bother me as variable names become unnecessarily long. I know that I can remove this using some other tool (Excel, R, Stata, etc.) but would prefer not to, especially since this is done automatically. Is there a way to specify how to do this in the settings tab of my XLSForm?

What ODK tool and version are you using? And on what device and operating system version?
I'm using ODK Collect, using an Android P device. I'm building with XLSForms, converting to XML, then uploading to my phone either through Google Drive or USB file transfer.

Hi @notaplatypus

it's our approach we agreed and there is no way to specify any other format. So you need to do that manually after sending forms like now.

Thanks for your reply. Hopefully in the future there will be a way to specify the variable naming syntax by turning on/off file name and group name prefixes.

Group names are rather required because it's possible to have the same question names in different groups.

Yup, I can see where you're coming from. But if there is an option to turn off group name prefixes, then it will be up to the user to ensure that they are assigning unique names. I don't suppose it would be difficult to have that feature built into the compiler/validity checker? Alternatively, if names are not unique, then variable names can have "-1" or some numeral automatically added with each repetition, similar to how computers handle file name duplicates or how R/RStudio forces it when joining dataframes.

What currently happens if there are two questions with the same name in the same group? Whichever way that is handled (whether it throws an error, or whether it adds a numeral) can be extended to the rest of the form.

For me, this is the use-case scenario that is problematic for me: Having the file and group names makes it difficult to do preliminary analyses on my data as they come in (i.e. not yet complete or ready to move over to other software, and so names cannot be changed yet) as all the variable names look the same. The columns have a fixed width so all of them show household_surve before being cut off. I then need to select the cell with the name to see the full name. This is tedious especially when presenting on ODK to stakeholders and introducing the concept of data collection and analyses to them, showing how survey responses get turned into data. Sure, we can guess at some of the variable names by looking at the responses (date, names), but when there are a few questions in a row that contain integers, that's where it starts to get confusing and cumbersome to keep having to check the variable name.

Anyway, I hope you will consider improving this feature in the next build. Having more control over the naming syntax would be a very welcome feature for me.


If you have any idea how it should look like (any proposal) you can create a topic here:

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I think there should be an option in briefcase so that one can decide to download with group names or without group names