ODK Collect v2021.2 Beta: multiple project support and project configuration on first launch

ODK Collect betas are an opportunity to get community feedback on upcoming releases. If you have an ongoing data collection campaign, we recommend quickly verifying your form on a test device. The release will be delayed until all reported issues are fixed.

Joining the beta program
To join the beta program, find ODK Collect in the Play Store on your device (not in the web browser) and scroll all the way down. Please don't join the beta with a device or account actively used for data collection! In particular, note that joining the beta is account-based. If you use the same Google account across multiple devices, do not join the beta with that account.

Leaving the beta program
You can leave the beta program from the bottom of the Play Store at any time. Once you leave, you will get the next production update when it is released. If you need to go back to the previous production release, uninstall and reinstall the app. Your settings will be reset but your forms will remain (though backups are always recommended).


What to check in this release

  • Project name as app title. The default project name will be the domain name of the configured server. Project name can be configured in Admin settings and will be part of the Central configuration QR code.
  • Adding, deleting projects from the same or different servers
  • Horizontal volume bar in audio overlay when recording audio (in the foreground or background)
  • Long choice lists that are filtered now display more quickly when navigating the form and the jump screen

Additional testing
You can find a full list of changes in the release notes:

Thanks to all testers for your help!


Hi @LN ans the team. Thanks for the work. This will be very helpful to participate to partners surveys that are not on same severs but also to different project that are on the same one.

Do you mean we will be able to configure it on Central's side in the future ?
Because I am not sure that end users will easily manually change Project name in Admin settings.
For the moment adding / deleting projects from same server works fine.
And first screen when no more projects are available is clear !

We are currently planning to do another Central point release when Collect v2021.2 goes out to include the Central project name in the Collect configuration QR code. This won't help for devices that are already configured but will mean new scans of QR codes will include that info. Eventually we do expect that it could be personalized if the Central and Collect project names should be different. We don't have a timeline for this yet.

I agree. Our hope is that the domain name still provides valuable information in most cases. Of course, it doesn't help when there are two projects from the same server!

If you'd like to customize your project name, icon and color, you can scan the Central QR code into Collect, use Collect to configure the settings as you like them, and then either configure other devices from that first configured device or share the code from Collect so you can print, email, Whatsapp, etc. https://github.com/getodk/docs/issues/1265 is on my long list of documentation todos and has a little more detail on my process.

Thanks so much for the feedback and questions!

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Some of my forms can no longer be opened. An error message is generated (see screenshot).
What does the error message mean and what needs to be changed?
Maybe it's a problem with the hidden GPS feature?

Hi @Dominik1
Could you share that form with us? You can do that in privat sending it to me or to somone else from the core team.

Hi @Grzesiek2010
Same issue occurred with a form that contains "start-geopoint" question, I can fill the form for first time and when try to fill blank form in the second time for the same form, error occurred.

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Thanks so much for trying out the beta and reporting the issue, @Dominik1 and @rassam! I think that between the error message and your descriptions we have enough to reproduce and fix. It looks like we’d have problems in any case where filling a specific form requires a check on settings.

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Yeah I was able to reproduce it and here is the issue: https://github.com/getodk/collect/issues/4627


I have tested this beta version and I must say it is pretty exciting, since it offers so much more flexibility, also simply for data managers to keep a track of all the form versions in different projects and servers!

No bugs detected on my side. Whether adding new projects, switching between encrypted / non-encrypted projects or filling out the different forms, everything was super smooth.

I really appreciate the quicker display of filtered lists (I had only one for recording the residence of respondents and I was considering removing the finest administrative level to increase the form performance, but it really works super smoothly now).
I liked the former audio background volume bar, but I agree that this new bar is more informative for the user when recording.

I found the configuration of the project name not that straightforward when you have added several projects from the same server. In this case I think I would prefer to have directly the project name with the server name in gray below the project name by default rather than solely the server name, but if it is planned to manage this directly with ODK Central later on, I think this is really acceptable the way it works now (especially since the tablet from data collectors in the field will never contain as many projects and users may be more incremental in their approach than I was: i.e., add a project and rename it immediately rather than add several projects and try to guess which is which). Deleting a project is very straightforward.

Two (minor) UX comments:

  • When you have the project panel open and want to modify the settings of a project which is not the current project, you have to proceed in 2 steps: you first select the project, and the switch also automatically closes the project panel, then you have to click on the project icon to reopen the panel and be able to modify your settings. I think I would generally find it more natural to keep the panel open and close it manually when I am done with all the changes.
  • Pure aesthetics: would you consider using the project color also for the General Settings and Admin Settings buttons? It may help create a "project identity"

Thanks so much for all the valuable feedback, @Thalie.

That's really helpful, thank you! We test on a variety of devices and simulated lists but it can be hard to tell whether the user impact will be real. It's very helpful to know that these kinds of performance improvements are noticeable on real forms.

We have a Central point release that will go out before the Collect release to include the project name in the configuration QR codes so hopefully that will help.

Thanks for sharing this workflow. We agree there's some roughness around project creation and switching and are exploring some options to improve that.

That's a very interesting idea! There's a risk there because some colors that work well as icon backgrounds might be problematic as buttons but we'll explore what we can do.

Hi All,

I'm getting an error when I try to download a form:

Can anyone help with this?



It sounds like you are using a custom server that isn't compliant with our specifications. What server is it?

You’ll also want to make sure you follow the breaking-changes tag.

This is really cool. And after seeing it on my phone, the useful linkage between "Projects" on Central and "Projects" in Collect clicked for me - makes it feel like a more connected/cohesive tool set.

+1, that will be helpful! I was noticing that when loading different app users and/or different projects there is no current way to immediately distinguish between them.

Is there a way, from Collect, to know the App User Display Name for the loaded profile?

Are there use-cases in which someone would want a reminder while within a form about which project is loaded? Either by somehow retaining the project icon on those screens? Or allowing to adjust the project color and have it persist in elements when filling a blank form (like with the experimental magenta theme)?

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Mission accomplished! :rocket:

We talked a little bit about this during the last TAB call but I also want to respond here. Currently we don't use the Central API at all and rely entirely on the limited OpenRosa API for communication so no, Collect doesn't currently know the App User Display Name. I agree that this is an issue for folks who use App Users to group different subsets of forms within a project. I am involved in such a project and what I plan to do initially is go through Collect to change the settings QR code project name as captured in this docs issue. I'll make the project names things like "Serosurvey (Lab)" and "Serosurvey (Monitoring)".

Longer term we do want all Collect settings to be editable from Central but this work is not scheduled yet.

We're not sure. From what we hear from users, the form name typically contains enough information and it would be rare to have the same form name in multiple projects. But I can certainly imagine situations in which it'd be possible to lose context. Hopefully once we get an initial release out folks with that kind of need can describe their scenario and we can figure out whether there's a good change to make. This also relates to @Thalie's suggestion above to use the project color more in order to establish a project identity.

We are seeing a non-fatal crash report that makes us thing something is going wrong related to our performance improvement around selects. We have not been able to reproduce. If you see any unexpected behavior when using selects, please let us know.

The latest beta (beta 3) includes several improvements to projects:

  • Creating a project immediately switches to that new project
  • Project deletion is not allowed when there are unsent submissions (submissions must be sent or explicitly deleted)
  • Google Drive projects can be configured from the manual configuration screen
  • The project selection dialog is taller if there are more projects
  • App shortcuts work across projects. They can be created for the current project and then continue to work even if the project is changed. It would be good to get feedback from anyone who relies on app shortcuts (e.g. @Florian_May )
  • The first project created is used as the default if no project is specified using a content provider URI (if you use an external app integration, please try this)

Thanks for all the great suggestions.

There's a change to location access that we have to make for Play Store compliance and in parallel we are combining general and admin settings to address some of the issues around configuring project title, etc. We expect to have one last beta with those changes when we start quality assurance.


That's amazing to hear about persistent app shortcuts! I'll aim to test and review next week.


A post was split to a new topic: Beginner ODK tutorial videos?

I really like the latest improvements and I found the interface easier to navigate in general. I had not seen you could create app shortcuts on the Home screen. Just looked at it, but it seems that you are losing the link to media files (images as CSV) in the shortcut when the project has been changed on ODK Collect.

Missing image

Missing CSV

Would you be able to share an approx. timeline for the release of v2021.2?
One of my research partners has just informed me that they are changing the composition of their data collection teams. As a consequence, one of their data collector would have to collect data for two different studies that are currently stored in different projects (1 project encrypted since collecting personally identifiable data / 1 project non-encrypted, both with different online access rights). I am wondering if I should retain the start of this data collection and suggest waiting for v2021.2 (which is obviously technically my preferred option) or must go the less preferred route of reshuffling forms / projects and protection levels.

Thanks so much for the careful look, @Thalie!

Yes, you are absolutely correct. For now, we've address this (here) by showing a dialog with an error asking the user to switch projects. We'll likely do this automatically in the future. We'll have a beta out within the next 24 hours with this behavior.

Monday July 26th currently looks like the likely release date but that could be pushed back if we find any other defects. We're now doing a thorough quality assurance pass. There are some big changes in this release and we want to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible!