2.0 Tool Suite

The ODK 2.0 Tool Suite is under active development by the ODK core development team. Recently, ODK 2.0 development has switched to a system of releases that occur every few months. To facilitate users who may have differing desires of deploying the most current version, two options will be kept up-to-date for users to try.

The available distributions are:

  • The "Current"/"In Progress" Distribution page hosts the most recent ODK 2.0 distribution. If the ODK development team is actively updating and documenting a new distribution, the word "Current" will change to the words "In Progress" to alert users that the distribution and documentation may be actively changing. An "In Progress" distribution has NOT been finalized. Users should be aware that until the label changes to "Current" more changes are possible.
  • The "Previous" Distribution page hosts the previous ODK 2.0 distribution providing an option to users who want to use a distribution that is not changing. 

After deciding if you want to be on the cutting edge by using a "Current"/"In Progress" distribution or by using the "Previous" distribution, see the "Getting Started Guide" to understand the process of revising and developing your own forms. The "Getting Started Guide" will walk you through modifying the Geotagger demo app to add an additional field to it.

The ODK development team strongly encourages use of either the posted "Current"/"In Progress" distribution or the "Previous" distribution. While the older versions are still available, they are out of date and not supported.

Overview

The next-generation of ODK tools (the ODK 2.0 Tool Suite) are intended to address several limitations of the existing ODK 1.0 data collection workflow. These are:

  • 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 XLSXConverter 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, and 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.
  • Eliminate the need to fork the underlying Java codebase. The ODK 2.0 tools include an Application Packager that will eliminate the need for an organization to fork and maintain their own versions of the ODK Survey or ODK Tables applications in order to create their own branded and controlled app.

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 at their current set of capabilities, 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 as-is, 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.