Import questionnaire from DDI file

It is possible to import questionnaires from DDI file format into Designer?

No. It is not possible to import questionnaires in DDI format into Designer.

Is it possible to import from any other format into designer?

Hello Paola, no, there is no import functionality in the Designer to import questionnaires from any other software. But please leave a note on what you are migrating from. Best, Sergiy

1 Like

It would be useful to have a functionality in the designer that would allow to import your questionnaire from, for example, pdf format o any other, into the designer, at least the phrasing and the alternatives. I understand that validations and enabling condition would be harder to import (although not impossible). But just allowing to import the phrasing would greatly help to reduce the time when programming the questionnaire. Let me know if it helps

Here is an example questionnaire in a PDF format.
Please specify any software that can make use of such files.

  • Software name
  • Version
  • Link
  • Pointer to the manual that describes this functionality.
  • Example output

For example, modern OCR software sees the above questionnaire as below (fragment):

Let’s crudely define

  • “make use” as “List the individual questions with their options”, and
  • “software” as a “Publicly obtainable, downloadable program for data entry or data collection, available for any consumer platform (Windows, Mac, Android, etc) that has a concept of questionnaire, questions and options”.

So, PDF is an output format. It is a format to lay out documents for being read by people. Hardly anything convenient for computers.

Something else may perhaps be considered one day, but if anything PDF is at the very bottom of any such list.

Sorry, I just want to make sure I understand. There is no way to create a text file (e.g., xml, json, or anything else) with the definition of a questionnaire, and then import the text file into Survey Solutions. Is that correct?

Many thanks,

That’s my understanding.

However, I would love for a method to exist. At the same time, I imagine that this would require the development team to devise a tool for parsing those files and reporting on errors. In all likelihood, this would be something different than the compiler tool within Designer (e.g., needs to check for and report on issues that couldn’t arise if JSON were created via Designer).

In my non-expert opinion, JSON would be the most natural way to do this. That said, even though JSON files are definitely machine-readable/writeable, it may not be easily human-readable/writeable–unless you have an unfailing love for nested objects.

Thanks for the feedback!

Our problem is that we would like to define a standard questionnaire and then distribute it to different countries who could add country-specific questions (while retaining all the required questions defined in the standard). With Survey Solutions, I am having trouble seeing how to distribute/share a standard (with over 500 items, so entering it in via Designer is quite a challenge with ample opportunities for bugs to creep in). Other software has this feature, so it is surprising that SS does not.
Thanks again.

That’s an interesting use case. I’ve encountered a variant of it in the past, but the solution was managed manually (e.g., instructions on what to change, inspection that those changes and only those changes were made).

One potential workflow might be to create the standard questionnaire and then share it with view-only rights. Countries would then clone the questionnaire you’ve mode, make changes to that clone, and then share their clone with you and your team for verification. If you export the JSON representation of your original and of their clone, you might be able to see the differences between them. (Here: I assume that the questionnaire object IDs–for example, question GUID–in the clones would be the same as thoses in the parent. Worth verifying that this assumption holds.)

You mention that other software have this feature. Could you say more about the feature, and about which other software have this feature? This strikes me as a really interesting idea.

I did not know about cloning questionnaires. That sounds like an excellent solution. Thanks again!

There is a software suite called Open Data Kit (ODK), and I think there is a variant (Kobo tools, or something like that). You basically define the questionnaire (i.e., questions, response options, languages, constraints, skip patterns, etc.) as an MS Excel file. Then the server (ODK Central) imports the xls/xlsx file and your survey instrument is ready to go. This is nice because you can put the xls file (I think xml also works) under version control and distribute quite easily.

I would like to see this functionality in Survey Solutions too somehow.

It would be good to learn from ODK’s experience with XLSForm and XLSX Converter–both what works and what doesn’t.