Using ODK with many forms that are always changing


We are building a survey thinking ODK is the right choice (mainly a geo survey): each questionnaire (per item) has always a choice between 4 answers (at least this think is constant), but the number of questions and content per question for each item (each form) is always different... Which means we end up with 60 forms for 60 items to be developed?

Last but not least, we have our own server to get the data at the end under a mysql database... for data analysis purpose and more...

So, ODK seems a good tool, but we need and will develop 60 forms... which become a big mess when it comes to ODK aggregate and MySQL? With also 60++ tables generated... to be identified and merged...
Top of it, when we will need to upgrade the forms(it's always needed, content, more or less fields, data controls)... more and more new tables would be added on database to be managed and to be identified?... and to be merged again in a proper database for global monitoring...

Is ODK still suitable in that case? Or suitable solution. Thanking you.

Why not have one form with branching for the various items? That'd push the complexity from the DB to the form design and that might be easier for you to manage.

As far as database merging with multiple forms, you can pick your level of complexity. You can use database views to merge the data, you can use Briefcase's CLI to download the data as CSV and do those merges programmatically and push to another DB, you can push the data from Aggregate via JSON to something like OpenFn to some other server, etc.

And that sounds unpleasant, but it's going to be unpleasant with most data collection platforms. Adding, removing, changing questions often changes the meaning and the underlying structure of your data. Even in cases where you can automate those merges, it's going to require a human being to understand what those merges mean.

Is ODK suitable? I think so, but the decision might hinge on what is more important. If you really need offline (ODK is good at that) or really need more dynamic data collection (maybe something that collects mostly key/value pairs and uses an always-on connection).

I say try designing a form or two, make a change or two, and see how that goes.

Dear Yam,

Thanks for your support.
I will review the information with my team.
I also post it on odk forum.

*Jean-Baptiste Mounier
*Senior ICT & Information Systems Expert
Hp: (62) 812 94 29 448

MNCONCEPT & Arsena Development / IT & Web Based Systems Consultancy
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