Friday, September 18, 2015

Setting up Mobile based Field Surveys for Dummies

Edit: has changed a bit since when I wrote this. Will update it in some days.

I'm going to lay out what works, and no, it's not the proper way. But
it works, and it's about as difficult as setting up a facebook


1. Go to and sign up, create an account.

2. Start by duplicating existing stuff. Go to,
search for "nikhil", grab one of those excels.

3. Login on, upload one of the excels which is an XLSForm.

4. On your phone, install ODK Collect :

5. On your profile / dashboard at (ie, the first place you see
after logging in), read and follow the instructions at the bottom to
hook your ODK Collect app with your stuff. Basically it's about
setting the server as[your usename]

6. in ODK Collect app, "Get Blank Form", you'll see the form you
uploaded in step 3.

7. Now "Fill Blank Form", fill it up, and after completion, "Send
Finalized Form"

8. From the computer, on your dashboard,[your usename], you'll see the form has gotten an entry. You can see the
data in a table, if you geo-tagged it then you can see it on a map.
You can even see any photo you submitted in the form.

9. To use the data collected in your own programming, like a map or a
data visualization, go to this URL :[your usename]
..and follow your way through. (you might need to set the form's data
as public by going into the form's profile page)

10. And then many things you can do depending on how you want to apply
the data. HERE you would need a programmer who understands Javascript,
JSON and HTML. Till this point, you didn't really need any
programmer.. it was all point and click.

11. Open up the excels you downloaded, understand the way it's
structured, look up on for full documentation, and
reverse-engineer it to create your own surveys.

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