Managing Form Submissions in Central

The most common way to use ODK Central is in conjunction with a data collection client, typically on a mobile device, such as ODK Collect. To do this, you will need to connect to it from your mobile device, after which you will be able to uploaded submissions back to Central.

ODK Central also bundles Enketo, which enables preview and submission of forms directly from a web browser. Please note that as with all ODK clients, Enketo does not always behave quite the same as Collect, or support the same features. Any authorized Web User may fill out a Form directly from the browser, as will be described in more detail below.

Finally, ODK Central offers Public Access Links. A Public Access Link grants anybody in possession of the link the ability to submit to a Form on your server. You can control whether each respondent can submit more than once, and revoke access from any Link at any time.

Submissions sent to Central are available to browse in a preview table, to connect directly to data analysis tools, and for download.

Direct Web Browser Submissions

Web Users who are Administrators, Project Managers, or Data Collectors can directly fill Forms in the web browser from the Central administration website. This functionality is provided by Enketo, which does not always behave quite the same as Collect, or support the same features.

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Administrators and Project Managers can begin a survey by going to the Submissions tab of the Form, and clicking on the New button next to the Submissions header. This will open a new tab which will load the Form in Enketo.

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Data Collectors do not have access to the detailed Form management pages. Instead, they will find a Fill Form button next to the Form name in the list of Forms on the Project Overview page.

Accessing Submissions

To find the Form submissions page, first find the form in the Form listings page (‣ Forms) and click on it. You will be taken to the Form Overview page for that form. Click on the ‣ Submissions tab below the form name to find the submissions.

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The table preview you see here will show you the first ten fields of your survey and their results, with the latest submissions shown closest to the top. Any downloadable files will appear with a green download link you can use to directly download that media attachment. The submission's instance ID will always be shown at the right side of this preview table.

It is not yet possible to screen or delete submissions for quality or edit submission data. These features are planned for future releases. For now, you will need to pull your data out of Central before you can work with it. Right now, you can do this in one of two ways:

  1. The CSV Download option will get you a .zip file containing one or more .csv tables, along with any multimedia submitted to the form. This is a good option if you already have custom tools you wish to use, or you want to import it into an offline analysis tool like SPSS or Stata.
  2. The OData connector allows you connect a live representation of the data to OData-capable tools like Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, SAP, and others. This option has some advantages: the data is transferred more richly to maintain more data format information, and the feed is always live, meaning any analysis or reports you perform in your tool over an OData connection can be easily refreshed as more submissions come in.

Learn more about these options below:

Downloading submissions as CSVs

To download all submission data as a .zip of .csv tables, click on the Download all # records button on the right side of the listing page:

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Once it completes downloading, you will find one or more files when you extract it:

  • A root table .csv named after your Form title.
  • Join table .csv files representing any repeats you may have in your form, with join columns on the left of each table relating each row to its counterpart in the parent table. Each join table is named to reflect its relationship with the others. If there is only one .csv file, then your form has no repeats.
  • A folder named files which contains subfolders, each named after an instanceId of a submission. Each subfolder then contains a set of file attachments relating to that submission. If no files folder exists, then no multimedia attachments have been submitted to this form.
  • If you have enabled Client Audit Logging on your form, and log events have been submitted to the server, then you will find a file that ends with - audit.csv. This file combines all the logging data from all submissions to the form into a single table.

Connecting to submission data over OData

To connect a third-party tool to Central over OData, you will need a link to paste into the tool. You can find this link by clicking on the Analyze via OData button on the right side of the listing page:

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Once you click on it, you should see this popup appear:

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Because OData is a industry standard, only one link is necessary to make most tools work. However, because it is a relatively new technology, some tools need a little bit of customization to work correctly. If you are using such a tool, like Power BI, click on its tab to get the special link we provide for it. Otherwise, copy the link as-is and paste it into your tool.

For information on how to create an OData connection in Microsoft Excel, click here. For instructions in Microsoft Power BI, see this page.

If you want to use the free and popular R statistics and analysis tool, we recommend you use ruODK. A guide for getting started with it can be found here. Just like ODK itself, ruODK is developed and supported by community members. If you wish to help improve it, you can find information on GitHub.

When asked for login information, provide the email address and password you use to log into ODK Central. Make sure you trust the tool you are using before you do this.