ODK Central vs Kobo

This is more a general question
I have been using Kobo for years. I always have wonder what are the advantages/disadvantages of using ODK Central instead of Kobo
Thanks in advance

Both are open-source mobile data collection platforms. They are separate platforms, but related because Kobo uses some of the software that ODK makes.

For example, KoboCollect is a copy of the ODK Collect mobile app. But it is a few months behind the original and so it does not have ODK's newest features and fixes. The only other differences are the name, logo, and a few settings.

The Kobo server has a different user interface and different features than the ODK Central server, but because the Kobo server uses technologies like the XLSForm standard and Enketo web forms that ODK maintains, the core functionality is similar. Central's focus is on making things easier, especially...

  • integrations (e.g., live Power BI dashboards)
  • management (e.g., QR code device configuration, accept/ reject of submissions workflow)
  • security (e.g., one-click data encryption)
  • provenance (e.g., edit history, device/server audit)

As far as where the data is hosted, most Kobo users use the free hosting provided by Kobo, while many ODK users use ODK Cloud, ODK's paid hosting service, or self host. If you use ODK Cloud you're helping fund the work on ODK (e.g., apps, docs, forum) as well as the ODK-maintained technologies (e.g., Enketo, XLSForm) that so many platforms and people build on. ODK Cloud is the easiest way to use ODK and it ensures the wider ecosystem continues to thrive.

It's not a competition. It's nice to have so many compatible data collection tools to choose from.


Great summary @danbjoseph


Thanks for replying is such detail @danbjoseph . It is so much clear for me now

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Thanks for confirming what I have been rather guessing so far.

As you are emphasizing Power BI integration: Is it possible on ODK what is not possible on Kobo, namely to show images in Power BI without putting the ODK server settings to "public"?

Images on Power BI is not solved directly in Central yet. Please see this thread for more details:

Thanks indeed for the hint. So, yanokwa's last contribution ("For the download, you can use the Central API or manually download") means that dynamic queries are possible (via API) and the private/public status doesn't matter on ODC Central (different from kobotoolbox)?

You'll need to authenticate. Users can authenticate using Session Bearer Tokens or using HTTPS Basic authentication: https://odkcentral.docs.apiary.io/#reference/authentication