Mobile Information Management - 2.0 Tool Suite

The ODK 2.0 Tool Suite is under active development by the University of Washington development team. The ODK 2.0 tools are currently undergoing testing as "Release Candidates" which means they are still in an experimental stage as the development team works with "trusted testers" to finalize a release.

Overview

The the ODK 2.0 Tool Suite (NOTE: will be renamed in the near future) is meant as a next-generation of ODK tools that will co-exist with the existing ODK 1.0 Tool Suite. The ODK 2.0 Tool Suite address several limitations of the existing ODK 1.0 data collection workflows such as:

  • Fully customizable layout of prompts on the Android device. The 2.0 tools use HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to specify the layout of nearly all the screens viewed by the data collectors. This enables individuals and organizations with basic web development skills to modify and customize the appearance of their surveys and workflow. At the same time, we retain the easy-to-use spreadsheet-based definition of the survey questions (however, this XLSX Converter mechanism is not cross-compatible with XLSForm).
  • More flexible, user-directed, navigation of a survey. The 2.0 tools do not impose a strict sequential advancement through a form like ODK Collect; form designers can allow users to traverse a form in any order, yet impose validation of collected data prior to traversing into subsequent steps in a workflow.
  • Improved treatment of repeat-groups. In the 2.0 tools, we have eliminated the concept of a repeat-group. In its place, we provide prompts that enable you to open and edit other surveys with links back to the originating survey (if desired). These prompts can describe a sub-form (nested) relationship among the surveys (e.g., household and household-member) or they can represent arbitrary relational linkages across your data (e.g., tea-houses and tea-types).
  • Bi-directional synchronization of data across devices. The ODK 2.0 tools support the collaborative sharing of survey data across devices, as well as the updating and submission of changes to previously-collected data (i.e., follow-up surveys) via a bi-directional synchronization protocol; this contrasts with the uni-directional device-to-server submission pathway of ODK Collect / ODK Aggregate / ODK Briefcase.
  • Data curation and visualization on the device. ODK Tables gives organizations the ability to investigate and visualize entire datasets directly on the Android devices through graphical and non-graphical displays and through filtered views.

Release Designations

The ODK 2.0 tools are in various stages of Alpha and Beta release.

  • Alpha software does not have all features, and is more likely to have significant reductions or additions of functionality. Alpha releases are provided to gather user feedback on the usability and capabilities of the application, as well as bug reports (to make the application more robust). Updates may result in loss of data or incompatible changes in form designs.
  • Beta software does not have all features, but is less likely to have significant reductions or alterations in functionality. Beta releases are provided to gather user feedback on the usability and capabilities of the application, as well as bug reports (to make the application more robust). Updates may result in loss of data or incompatible changes in form designs.
  • Alpha and Beta releases can be used as-is, but the ODK core team cannot provide support for deployments using them or guarantee a migration path into future releases. If you use these, you should plan to use them without expecting upgrades to newer versions of the tools. The ODK 2.0 tools have mechanisms to extract your data as CSV files from these tools, and to re-import data via CSV files. This provides a migration path to newer releases, but will generally require manual actions on your part.
  • Release Candidate software does not have support for deployments, but the ODK core team does guarantee a migration path (possibly with many tedious manual steps) into future releases.
  • Production software has been used in several deployments and there is some level of confidence that the software is stable. As with any software, there is no guarantee of being bug-free.

Non-technical users may find the usage descriptions difficult to follow and there may be a considerable number of manual steps needed to utilize the tools. As we progress from Alpha to Beta to Release Candidate and Production versions of the tools, they should become easier to use.