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xml – allow users to create forms within android survey/data collection app

Posted by: admin June 15, 2020 Leave a comment


I’m trying to develop an Android app that could be used by advocacy groups or campaigners such that they would be able to create their own forms (surveys) for which they can go out canvassing and collect opinion data from people who don’t have Internet connections and thus can’t take surveys/polls online. Could also be used at events or anything else that requires data collection “in the field”

The benefit is allowing data collection on the spot without having to transfer data from paper to the office computer by hand.

I’ve been looking over this tutorial by Frank Abelson: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/tutorials/x-andddyntut/section6.html

And have also been pouring through the Open Data Kit, but the ODK is a little more intense than I am prepared for and the Abelson tutorial doesn’t discuss much how users could create their own forms.

I suppose users could just create their own XML files for custom forms in the office and store them on the server, but I was wondering if there was a way for them to do this on the Android app?

Just a hint about possible architecture or simple resources would be helpful, I am having a hard time picturing the solution at the moment.

How to&Answers:

i’m one of the developers of open data kit. odk has been successfully deployed by organizations all around the world for exactly what you describe.

we have a graphical form designer (and good alternatives in purcforms and xls2xforms), a server to host the forms, and an android mobile client (and good alternatives in javarosa). all the pieces are free, open source, and are driven by an active community.

if you could list what specifically about odk doesn’t fit your needs (say, a need form design on the phone), i’d be could recommend alternatives…


ODK is a fantastic open source solution. A potential commercial alternative you can also try is Canvas at http://www.gocanvas.com which allows you to replace paper based forms with your mobile device.

It currently runs on Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry with iPhone and iPad support coming soon.
To get a quick overview of how to use Canvas:
Build a standard data collection app in 5 minutes and see it running on BlackBerry
Build a signature capture app in 5 minutes and see it running on Android

Hope that helps some,


You should look into Fulcrum. I believe there is a 30 day trial period see if this software works for you. This is a one stop shop for mobile data collection teams. You can easily build your data collection forms right from your web account to include photo fields, text entry fields, choice fields, form sections, and repeatable sections. Repeatable, meaning parent-child relationships within a single data point.

They even have an App Gallery with a exemplary apps (forms) that allow you to use as a sort of “cheat-sheet” to get started. Here is the political canvassing survey they posted.



Check my project here: https://github.com/AndreiD/surveylib

PROS: Simple solution, open source, without any overkill, you don’t have to display any logos, it doesn’t cost a thing, it’s easy to be extended, material design etc.

CONS: You must have the server part, for the transmission of the answers data.