External Itemsets

If your form has selects with a large number of items (e.g., hundreds), that form can slow down ODK Collect's form loading and navigation. The best workaround to this issue is to use external itemsets (ODK Collect v1.4 r1033 or later).

To use external itemsets, start with a normal XLS file and use XLSForm to convert it to an XForm. Take that XForm and do the following.

  1. Delete any <itext> references for values in your itemsets
  2. Delete all extra <instance>...</instance> except for the first one
  3. In the section, wherever you see <itemset nodeset="..."> cut/paste the nodeset="..." into the <select1> element for that node
  4. <select1 ref="/new_cascading_select/county" 
  5. Rename 'nodeset' to 'query'
  6. <select1 ref="/new_cascading_select/county" 
  7. Rename the <select1 ...> and </select1> nodes to 'input'
  8. <input ref="/new_cascading_select/county" 
  9. Remove the <itemset ...> and </itemset> nodes
  10. Remove any <value ref="..."/> and <label ref=""/> inside of the <input> with the query="..."
  11. In the <bind nodset="..." change the type="select1" to type="string" for any of your new itemsets
  12. From the .xls file, save the sheet 'choices' as 'itemsets.csv'
  13. Put itemsets.csv in the [form-filename]-media folder on the device
  14. If you don't have any explicit languages defined in the form, you also have to add the following after <model>:
  15. <itext><translation default="true()" lang="default"/></itext>

If you need more help, download the external itemsets example. The example includes four files that should make external itemsets easier to understand.

You will get a cascading_select.xls file with normal itemsets, the normal cascading_select.xml file created by XLSForm, an updated cascading_select_external_itemsets.xml file modified to work with the external itemsets, and the itemsets.csv that goes along with the updated cascading_select_external_itemsets.xml file.