ODK Central v2023.5: Entity Updates Via Submissions

We are excited to announce a new release of ODK Central, our fifth and final Central release of 2023! :gift:

What's new

:sparkle: Entities can now be updated via Submissions! This enables new workflows in the world of Entity-Based Data Collection, where you can now design followup forms that not just use Entity data, but can make changes to that data. See our User Documentation about for more information about designing Forms that can update Entities.

Central will show Entity diffs just like Submission edits!

At this time, Entity updates still require a round trip to the server. That is, updates only happen on the server and clients will need to sync with the server to download new changes. If two people attempt to update an Entity at the same time (without syncing in between), Central will simply apply any changes it receives at the time and in the order it receives them, also known as "last write wins". However, it will also flag that Entity with a conflict so a Project manager can double-check the data.

We assume conflicts will be relatively rare, but if they do come up, Central is able show the changes from each conflicting version so someone can confirm and update with the correct data.

:rocket: Many thanks to @spwoodcock for helping us slim down and simplify the deployment of Central!

:arrow_up: We have made a number of other fixes, enhancements, and dependency updates that can be explored in the release notes.

:open_book: You can see our updated User Documentation and API Documentation to learn more about these features and how to use them.

How to get these changes?

If you are using ODK Cloud, we'll be rolling out these updates in the coming days. If you are not using ODK Cloud, follow the upgrade instructions.

:warning: Please refer to the prior upgrade instructions and upgrade notes for each release if you are multiple releases behind. For example, v2023.2 and 2023.3 are critical infrastructure upgrades.

If you haven't used Central, the easiest way to get started is with ODK Cloud. ODK Cloud is official managed hosting of Central on our fast, reliable, and secure infrastructure. It's fully-managed and fully-supported so you can focus on collecting the data you need.

If you are technical and prefer to self-host and rely on community support, start with our installation docs.

What's next

Many more exciting features planned for 2024, which you can read about in our development roadmap. These include bulk Entity operations and moving closer to offline Entity updates!

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ODK Central v2023.5.1 is now available. It includes the following changes:

  • Upgrade to pyxform v2.0.2:
    • generate translations for select with search()
    • generate translations for select choice lists with dashes in their name
    • generate the text "Other" for all languages when using or_other
  • Upgrade to Enketo Express v7.1.0:
    • revert re-implementation of annotate question to save full image resolution to fix issues with submission edits resulting in image updates and truncation of draw/signature/annotate questions on non-last pages in pages mode (more details)
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