Last week I mentioned that we’re getting into harvest here in Ohio. In the field, easy-to-use mobile apps are a great replacement for more traditional data sheets because they organize the data and don’t require manual data entry after a long day outside. Survey123, produced by Esri, is a personal favorite because it’s easy to control the data format. The main downside is, to the best of my knowledge, you need a personal or corporate Esri account to use this app. Hopefully next week I’ll have a chance to write up some of my favorite free alternatives.
Navigate to http://survey123.arcgis.com/ and log in using your Esri account information. From there, it will take you to your survey home page:
When you click the “Create a New Survey” button, you’ll have a choice to use the web designer or XLSForm spreadsheet to design your survey. Personally, I always use the web designer. It feels a lot like the graphic interfaces for most online questionnaire creators.
After entering a survey name and summary, you’ll be able to design your questions using the options on the menu:
The descriptions are pretty self explanatory and I appreciate the number of options, including single choice grid, drop down menus, and GeoPoints. In other programs like Google forms, you can make your own Ratings or Likert scales but it requires a lot more work. There’s even a specific question for collecting an email address (instead of just using the Singleline Text option). Their date formatting is also an improvement over using the Singleline Text option, since when the responses are collected in a spreadsheet all dates will be formatted the same way. This makes it much easier to sort for analysis. The wide variety of highly specific question layouts is probably my favorite thing about Survey123.
After selecting your question format, you can provide the question and any other necessary information (like options for a multiple choice question). I appreciate programs that allow me to design forms to automatically reject data entries that don’t follow uniform formatting or are missing crucial information. They allow me to create required questions, specify if I want text or numerical responses, and assign default values. One example of how I use the Hint text is to provide details about the rating scale we’ll use.
After you’ve designed you questions, hit the “Publish” button. This makes your survey live and allows you to share it with others. The overview button allows you to track engagement. Design lets you modify questions or help text as needed. Use the Collaborate button to find collaborator’s Esri accounts so they can submit data too! The analyze button provides some summary graphics of all responses, and the data button lets you output the response spreadsheet to use elsewhere.
To submit data using your new survey from the web application, go to your main survey page (http://survey123.arcgis.com/surveys). From there, you can click the little link button next to the survey name (see picture to the right).
To submit data from mobile, you’ll need to download the app and log in. From there, you can download surveys from a page that looks basically identical to your main survey page. Then you click the survey to download it and click again to open. Once the survey is downloaded to your device, you can record offline. From mobile you can submit your responses as you enter them, or save them to submit later when you’re on Wi-Fi.
- Price– if your employer or university doesn’t have Esri access, it’s pretty costly
- Sometimes the fantastic number of options makes it take a little longer to design your survey
- The easiest way to output responses is as a .txt file– this isn’t really a problem, but I have a slight preference for .csv files when they’re an option.
- Even though this is made by Esri, the location features leave something to be desired. It has a lot of error in recording GeoPoints, and if you have poor cell signal it won’t always get your location. For that reason, I don’t recommend making GeoPoints a required question.
Overall, I find Survey123 to be effective and easy. If you’re affiliated with Ohio State, you can use their enterprise account for free. Details are available at the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis.