5.6.2 Getting started with the form builder
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Starting with KoBoToolbox online form builder – Basic User
Starting with XLSForm – Advanced user
How to adapt an existing XLSForm
- Step 1: Download the latest XLSForm from your project on KoBoToolbox
- Step 2: Create a second version of your form and save it in your files
- Step 3: Modify your new XLSForm
- Step 4: Upload your new XLSForm to the server
- Step 5: Extensive testing of your XLSForm on the server and/or smartphones/tablets
- Where to (re)name a question (variable) or an answer choice (option or value) in XLSForm
- How to adapt an existing XLSForm
Starting with KoBoToolbox online form builder – Basic User
To build your form from scratch in KoBoToolbox online builder you can follow this tutorial.
Where to access the form builder ?
Here below are the steps required to build your own form using the online form builder:
- If you do not have one already, create a Kobo account (https://kobo.humanitarianresponse.info) and login.
- On the default home page, click on the “NEW” button.
- Select “Project”.
Enter the Project Name and the Description (if relevant) and click on “create project” (see picture below).
The following window (an empty form) will appear on your screen:
How to build a new form ?
- Add a question by using the ‘+’ sign.
- Type the label of your question (as it should appear on the phone), and click “+ add question”:
- Select the type of response expected among the list of options. The following table summarizes all the options (as of February 2018) and their description.
- Fill up the information related to the question (responses labels, codes…) when needed. According to the type of question selected, you will have to fill in additional information. For example, by choosing “Select One”, the form builder will show the following screen where the possible responses must be entered:
KoBoToolbox Online Form builder Menu
This page explains to you the The KoBoToolbox Interface. In addition, here are complementary information on the buttons of the editing mode of your form builder menu.
The editing mode of your form also gives you access to a few general options:
On the left of your screen
After adding one or more questions, you can click on this symbol to preview (simulate) the form being built and see if the survey is displayed as expected.
To expand/collapse all the questions in the form in one click.
To group one or more questions together inside a form. It can be useful in various situations: to divide a long form in sections, to skip one group of questions (using skip logic, see following chapter), to repeat a group of questions (e.g. when interviewing members of one household).
If you want to add cascading question, clicking this button will open a blank window where you import questions and related responses directly in the KoBoToolbox online builder from an Excel file. Cascading select questions are sets of questions whose options depend on the response to a previous question (e.g. Q1 asks to choose a country, Q2 asks to choose the region from this country). The import of cascaded question sets in the online form builder is explained here.
On the right of your screen
Layout: A survey can either be launched on the phone or directly from the KoBoToolbox website. This option allows you to select the way the web form will be displayed if the survey is run online. You can find here a description of theses possibilities.
Form builder functions
This tutorial will explain you how to access the advanced settings, to delete, duplicate or add a question to the library by clicking on the related symbol:
The “Questions option” menu allows to:
- Set the data column name.
The “Data Column Name” is the name that will appear in the resulting column(s) of the database. It is the unique identifier of your question. Each question is represented by one or several columns in the dataset. “Data Column Name” is filled up automatically by KoBoToolbox, using the label of the question. Spaces and special characters are replaced by underscores. That is why it is recommended to rename it manually to avoid any confusion in the database (such as long names, too many underscores, duplicates…).
- Add a hint below the question to help the enumerator
- Make the question mandatory to answer (to avoid skipping an important question)
- Add a Default Response
- Choose the appearance of the question
- Add Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) tag and attribute
Good Practice: Rename the automatically generated name (of question and answer choice) in KoBoToolbox Each question and answer choice has a label which is what you wrote and what is displayed on the phone. Each question and answer choice has a name (it is sometimes called value for response) which is a code automatically generated by KoBoToolbox, using the label of the question or answer choice. This automatically filled up question name is the unique identifier of your question as it is the name of the column(s) relative to the question in the dataset.
It can bring confusion in the database (such as long names, too many underscores, duplicates…) in the event:
- the label is very long (due to the code name limitation)
- the label has special characters (Spaces and special characters are replaced by underscores.)
- different labels are very similar (code will be almost the same, adding a “1” at the end for example)
The following screenshots illustrate these issues:
To avoid this, it is thus recommended to rename it manually. Guidelines and tips to choose a proper name to your variable and otpions are detailed in section 5.5.2 Naming variables and options.
Where to rename a question (variable) or an answer choice (option or value) in KoboToolbox
How to rename a question on KoBoToolbox ? In order to rename a question (also called variable) on KoBoToolbox, select the question to be modified, click on “Settings”, then on “Question options” and rename your variable in Data Column Name.
Name of the variable in KoBoToolbox
How to rename an answer choice on KoBoToolbox ? In order to rename an answer choice (sometimes called option or value for lists of choice) on KoBoToolbox, select the answer of interest and modify the name next to the choice to be modified (next to “Value”).
To avoid confusion when sharing your XLSForm or your data you can include HLX standards.
How to add Humanitarian Exchange Language in KoBoToolbox
Adding the HXL language directly to your form will help others working with your form (in the online form builder or XLSForm) or the output database.
Here is a tutorial that explain how to use the right tag and attribute on your data (which can be use conjointly to the HXL Tag Assist).
Here a tutorial that explains your how to directly add HXL to your form before data collection on KoBoToolbox online builder.
Starting with XLSForm – Advanced user
Building from scratch an XLSForm in Excel can be a solution, however a good practice is to start from another XLSForm and modify it according to the needs to not start from a blank page. You can gain precious time by reusing similar constraints and validation criterias, or same lists of answer choices or already translated set of questions.
- Here is a complete tutorial to start to create an modify an XLSForm and upload it into KoBoToolbox.
- This tutorial also explains the XLSForm format and this one how to ulpload an XLSForm into ODK server Central.
- You can also find plenty of XLSForm tutorials on this incredible website.
How to adapt an existing XLSForm
Step 1: Download the latest XLSForm from your project on KoBoToolbox
If you don’t have the latest version of your XLSForm saved in one of your files, you will first have to download it from the project on the server (here KoBoToolbox). In order to do so, go to the server, select your project and click on “Download XLS”.
Step 2: Create a second version of your form and save it in your files
In order to avoid any confusion in your different XLSForm, we recommend that before starting any adaptation/modification in your XLSForm, you first make a copy of your initial form, rename it according to its version (for example V2 as the initial form is V1) and save it in your files. Every time you modify it, repeat the same steps renaming it according to the adequate versions (V3, V4 etc.). Then, go into the “settings” tab of your XLSForm and change the version of the document in the “id_string” and “version” columns (for example from “My survey_V1” to “My survey_V2”).
Step 3: Modify your new XLSForm
You are now ready to adapt your XLSForm. The following website is very exhaustive and explains in detail how to develop XLSForm through Excel. The XLSForm Cheat Sheet can also help you in this step.
Step 4: Upload your new XLSForm to the server
When you are satisfied enough with the adapted version of your form, you can upload it to your server by clicking on the project of your form and on “Replace with XLS”. A new window will be opened where you can browse to find your new XLSForm. Select your form and click on “Upload”.
Step 5: Extensive testing of your XLSForm on the server and/or smartphones/tablets
In Mobile Data Collection, testing is key to a successful and smooth data collection, cleaning and analysis! The more you test your form in the beginning (under different circumstances, by exploring the different possibilities, online and on the tablets/smartphones), the fewer problems you will encounter during your data collection.
Where to (re)name a question (variable) or an answer choice (option or value) in XLSForm
This section looks at both the question names (also called variable later in the analysis and which will become column headers in the data downloaded from your server, in blue section across) and the value for lists of choices (also called answer choice or option and which will become the values assigned to each selection in those columns, in orange across).
Example of a database (each column represents a variable/question and each line represents a data entry)
When exporting your data from KoBoToolbox (by selecting the projet, clicking on “Data”, then on “Downloads” and by selecting “XLS”), you have two different types of exportation in Excel:
Excel exporting possibilities of KoBoToolbox
“English”/”Français”/etc.: both the questions/variables and choices are reported in your database with the “labels” (which is what is displayed on the phone) that you have given them. You have as many possibilities for the database with labels as languages that you have in your survey. “XML values and headers”: both the questions/variables and choices are reported in your database with the “names” that you have given them.
In order to rename a variable or question in an XLSForm, select the “survey” tab, go to the variable of interest and modify its name accordingly in the “name” column.
Changing the name of a variable
In order to rename a choice in an XLSForm, select the “choices” tab, go to the choice of interest and modify its name accordingly in the “name” column.
Modifying the name of the options
How to add Humanitarian Exchange Language in XLSForm
In addition, you should add HXL directly to your form to help others who will be working with your form or the output database.
Here is a tutorial that explains how to use the right tag and attribute on your data, that can be use conjointly to the HXL Tag Assist.
Here are some tutorials that explain how to directly add HXL to your XLSForm before data collection on KoBoToolbox or on the ONA MDC server.