ODK Central v0.8

Each Central release is an opportunity to get community feedback on ongoing work, so check out the introduction and follow the instructions to try it out on our sandbox or your own machine!

The focus this release is on Form drafting, testing, and version updating.

Form Drafts

When you create a new Form now, it first appears in a Draft state. While your Form is a Draft, it will not appear to your users on mobile collection devices. You can, however, test it by scanning a temporary access barcode into your own device. Submissions sent through this testing code can be seen on the Central administration site, but are temporary and are automatically removed when the Draft is published, deleted, or replaced.

You can replace a Draft with a new definition as many times as you need, without any need to change the version string or worry about clearing out old Submissions. Once you are ready, the Draft can be published, and it will become immediately available for use.

Please see this documentation article for more information about using Form Drafts.

Form Versions

Relatedly, after you publish your Form, it is now possible to create a new Draft alongside the published version. This Draft also appears only to privileged Project staff, and as with the initial Draft comes with a way to safely test your new Form definition. Submissions made to the test Draft are kept separate from your real data.

Once you are satisfied with your new Form version, you can publish it to replace the currently published version. Old submissions are preserved alongside new ones.

There are some simple but important rules around changes to your Form definition. For more information about this, and about Form versions in general, please see this documentation article.

Note you must now create a Form Draft to update Form Media Attachments.

Other Highlights

Thanks in part to feedback from our users and contributions from community developers, we have made the following improvements:

  • We now automatically accept the itemsets.csv file that can be generated by XLSForm conversion, when uploading an XLSForm file. (#124)
  • Central now correctly interprets the need for a Media File upload, when a Form requires a default image for annotate/signature widgets. (#250)
  • Fixed a rare but severe stability issue that could freeze the Central server when exporting a Form when its xmlFormId contains certain unsafe characters. (#256)
  • Fixed upload of Form Media Attachments of type .xml. Previously, XML files would always end up empty when uploaded. (#243)
  • Central will now reject encrypted submissions if they do not include an explicit instanceID. This is unlikely to affect you unless you have written your own client software, and only prevents cases where decryption would have failed anyway. (#253)

As always, we have updated our User Documentation and API Documentation for the latest changes. More notes about changes to the API for v0.8 can be found in the Changelog, which lists additions, breaking changes, and other things of note for each major release.

Known Issues

Central v0.8 is not compatible with Briefcase for uploading forms with Form Media Attachments. Additionally, Briefcase does not support managing multiple form versions. If you would like to continue using Briefcase with Central, please start a new thread describing your use case in detail.

What's Next

Our next release, Central v0.9, should begin to address localization and form preview (with Enketo). For a longer term roadmap, read what's coming in Central over the next few years.


We released Central v0.8.1 a few days ago. It includes the following changes:

Bug Fixes

  • Allow any field to convert down to string when setting a new Form Version. This change also resolves a confusing failure with XLSForm conversion of forms with Select-type questions where it may complain that you have changed a field type when you haven't.
  • Fix an issue where some form structures could cause OData feeds to fail to load.
  • Significantly reduce form creation time for larger forms.
  • Fixed issues with using Custom SSL using the provided instructions. If you are already using a custom SSL certificate, the changes here may cause some issues with changes you may have made.

Please note that Central v0.8.x in general is still not compatible with Briefcase for uploading forms with Form Media Attachments, and Briefcase does not support managing multiple form versions.

Otherwise, and especially if you have experienced any of the above issues, we encourage you to upgrade to v0.8.1.