Survey Repository

Hi all :slight_smile:

I hope everyone has had a nice start to the new year! Thanks to everyone for really helpful responses to previous posts.

I am currently working on a review about data collection standards (focused on smallholders). One thing I am particularly interested in is the development of standard, reusable survey modules. I think it would be really good if there were an online repository where organisations could share some of their survey questions/survey modules. Ideally such a repository would allow people to contribute their ideas on how to improve the survey, add translations, add choices etc... This would be very useful for widely used survey modules and indicators (e.g. Progress out of poverty, Food insecurity experience scale ...).

This is feature that may already exist on ODK, or elsewhere, but I have not found it. I was considering whether a git repo would be sufficient, but have heard that version control for csv/xls/xml can be a bit of a challenge. I would love to hear how some of you would approach this issue.

If anyone has any ideas, I would love to help in any way I can!


This is a great idea!
Tangentially related, I'd love to see a list of best practices to implement tricky form design features in XForms/XLSForm, and through setup/mapping of user groups etc. to ODK Central projects/forms/apps.


Yes it would be great to have such a repo whee to find example and share forms and copy/paste blocks of questions.
It was discussed it a little during the TAB application last september. And you should find volunteers to feed such a repo :slight_smile:
From my experience, a lot of people have forms to share. What a resource it could be to save time, not rebuilding the wheel, and go further.
First, share best practices and a complete form template, with all columns well ordered should help.


Thanks both for the response. I won't be able to start work on this immediately, but I will share progress as soon as I get started!

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When I have time (or too much coffee), I try to share my arguably small wins in the showcases category. That's of course a bit more free form than a GitHub repo of forms and less structured.

If there were a good set of labels suitable to categorise forms by purpose and features, would you think that might work as a searchable repository?


So sorry I took this long to respond! I have been very busy recently.

Exactly, setting some standards for labels to categorise these would be fantastic. I know there is a team currently working on an app-based tool with a GUI that users could use to pull modules together for a survey. This would really take the pain out of some of the more repetitive steps of survey design and would encourage people to collect harmonisable information


@Grzesiek2010 always seems to have an example form to answer people's questions about difficult form design! Like this :point_down:

Haha yeah I also have my private repository with some forms :slight_smile:

I think it's a good idea so I'll share my forms too. Maybe it should even be a part of getodk on Github... in fact, there is one GitHub - getodk/sample-forms: ODK Sample Forms but not updated for a long time (it stores XML forms what is not really helpful). We could use it!


Seems like an easy win and suggest we add this to this week's TAB agenda.


I had in mind a full feature template with all possible (except translation :slight_smile: ) columns in both survey et settings sheets and mandatory ones in choices.

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agree, need a good template. Preferably one with locked columns so there's no movement!
There's only value in doing this if you can cut and paste between forms without needing to reorder the columns. Otherwise, an online tool to read the form, strip out the columns and then build a new standard format XLS file.

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This conversation may be worth linking to the discussion around a single form builder for the ecosystem. KoBo has a question library functionality, so figuring out how to coalesce around one form builder may require some discussion around how to keep that functionality.

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Sounds like there are different goals: One is to have a 'technical' template that shows all columns, and the other to store and share useful form components.

We created the reference table as a complete overview of all the available columns, question types, and settings (XLSForm Reference Table). It sounds like we could add to that same page having all the fields available in a valid XLSForm with some example questions.

May be good to start a separate thread around the formbuilder question. KoBo's question library was created because organizations often use the same content in many forms and wanted to share it internally and with each other. It stores all content using XLSForm syntax, so that library assets, ie questions / blocks (sets of questions in a particular order) / templates (entire forms to start new projects from) can be imported from or exported to XLSForm at any point. When dragging content from the library into the formbuilder it copies the entire asset into the form as the JSON representation of the XLSForm.

Yes I think so but they are close one to the other.

In order to facilitate copy/paste of question blocks between a shared form wich is close to my need, and the one I am developing, a complete template (conform to the XLSForm reference table) would help, avoiding add/drop/reorder unused columns (just hiding it).

Here is a template_proposal.xlsx (6.6 KB) I just created following the XLSForm reference table (even if it is optional I create a choices sheet, and I did not for the settings one). We could ask or encourage users who want to share their forms in the repo to be compliant to such a template.