Exporting Results to a Spreadsheet

There are a number of ways to download results into a spreadsheet and each has its own advantages and disadvantages

Excel (Format HTML)

This is the traditional excel download that has been available on Smap for many years.   It is reliable but slow.  The html format has to be converted by Excel when you open it, which can be slow, and some people have also recently reported  with that conversion.  If you can’t open the spreadsheet you can try XLSX format or download as a CSV file.

Excel (Format XLS)

The created file is in the native XLS format.  However it is restricted to 256 columns. If you have more than 256 columns creation of the spreadsheet will fail without reporting an error!  I recommend you use the XLSX format unless you have a Microsoft office version earlier than 2007.

Excel (Format XLSX)

The created file is in the native XLSX format.  It does not have a restriction on the number of columns. However if the survey is large then downloads will take a long time and may fail due to a lack of memory on the server.  Update:  In version 16.08.12 I have modified the XLSX generation to progressively download the spreadsheet. This should fix the memory problem and it is much faster too.


Fast and reliable.   However Excel cannot read Unicode characters in a CSV file so if loading into Excel you may not be able to read languages such as Arabic.  However you can use Libre Office an open source spreadsheet that does support unicode in CSV files.

Version 16-08

New Features

Role Based Access Control

Much greater control over access to data is now possible using roles. Roles can be used to:

  • Restrict access to a survey to those users that have a specified role.  These restrictions apply to administrators as well as analysts and enumerators.
  • Restrict access to rows in the results set to users with a specific role.  For example a user with one role may have access to data from region X while a user with a different role may have access to data from region Y.  If a user had both roles they would be able to see data from both regions.
  • Restrict access to columns in the results.   As per restricting access to rows, users without a specific role may be restricted from seeing the answers to some of the questions in a form.

The following video shows preventing access to a survey using roles.

Roles can have many other applications and each future release of Smap will include additional role based features.  One other non-security use that is included in version 16.08 is to show a list of users that can be assigned a task in managed forms.  Only users with the specified role are shown in the choice list.

Embed Images in Excel Exports

If you select the excel export format as xls or xlsx then you can also opt to embed the thumbnails of images directly in the spreadsheet.  There is a new checkbox in the export dialog that you can select to enable this.


Images Embedded in a Spreadsheet

The image is “anchored” to the cell so if you make the column or row larger then the image will also be larger.  Only the thumbnail is embedded so if you enlarge the image it will not have great resolution.  You can select the image and move it away from the cell.  Underneath you will find the link to the full resolution image.

Bug Fixes

  1. When downloading a PDF or XLS results file from the Browse Results page the name of the file was always set to “displayName”.  It is now set to the name of the survey.
  2. In WebForms the “back” and “next” buttons are shown even when there is no paging specified.
  3. Question labels are not always shown when listing questions available to show on a graph. Instead only the names of the question are shown.

Version 16-07

New Features

Managed Forms

A managed form is created by adding an “oversight form” to a “survey form”.  Data in the oversight form can be updated from the user’s web browser to allow them to add additional information to the survey data.


This feature should be useful in cases where individual records from a survey are significant and need a response.   In contrast where data is aggregated and analysed statistically managed forms do not add any value.


Setting up a managed form

  1. Create an oversight form
  2. Link the oversight form to a survey form
  3. Open the managed form

Create an oversight form

Select the menu modules > manage > setup managed forms

Then select the tab “Available Oversight Forms”.  You can then download the oversight template, define your form and upload it.


Link the oversight form to the form

Select managed forms.  Then click on the edit button next to the name of the form you want to link.  Then specify the oversight form.

Open the oversight form

Select Modules > “Web Forms” > “Managed Forms”.

Export Results in xlsx and xls format

Previously when you exported results as an XLS file the format was actually HTML.  However this HTML could be read by Excel or LibreOffice.  Now you can export as an actual XLSX or XLS format as well as still exporting in an Excel compatible HTML.


After selecting an output Format of “Excel” select the “Excel Format” you want.  The default is “HTML”, just because that is the format previously used however it probably makes more sense to choose xls or xlsx.

Other Changes

  • Export PDF templates in Arabic.
  • Set the threshold distance at which fieldTask will record a GPS point
  • Warnings are no longer shown after uploading an xlsForm template.  They added little value and were mostly confusing.
  • Removed the storage of survey “path” names from the database. This change should increase the robustness of the online editor.



  • Management forms can now update data collected using a data form.  To do this specify the same name for a management form column as is used in your data form.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented “preload” question types from being downloaded when exporting an edited survey to an xlsForm.


  • Added security roles.  You can now create roles in the user management page and assign them to users. This requires you to have the Security Manager or Organisational Administrator security group
  • In a managed form you can now specify that a select list is made up of users who have a role.  Multiple roles can be specified.
  • Fixed some security issues.

Smap is on the move

Smap Consulting now has a permanent company address in Canberra.  However one of the objectives of this move is to allow a more flexible physical location.  So although the company will be located in Canberra we may be working out of co-working space in Manila or Nairobi etc depending in the work we are doing and the location of our customers.

The company address is now:

PO Box 4644
Canberra, ACT, 2604

Our current physical location is at Brainspace a co working space in Kingston.


SPSS now available as an export option

You can now export data for import into SPSS.  This complements the existing formats of:

  1. xls
  2. csv
  3. kml
  4. shape
  5. Stata
  6. Openstreetmap

On the Smap server go to the analysis module and select “Export”, then select SPSS as the format. A Zip will be downloaded containing a CSV file for the data and an SPS file for the variable names.

Within SPSS import the CSV data file. Then load the variable names by selecting:

File > Open > Syntax

Then select:

“Run All”

Any suggestions on improvements to the information that is written to the SPS syntax file would be gratefully accepted.

Map Quest no longer support tile access

What is it with map providers! You may see something like this when you open a map view:


The changes Map Quest have put in place mean that they no longer support OpenLayers which is the mapping API that Smap uses in many places on the server. fieldTask is also affected.

More details on their announcement here: http://devblog.mapquest.com/2016/06/15/modernization-of-mapquest-results-in-changes-to-open-tile-access/

There is an updated version of the Smap Server to address this problem available on the downloads page.  http://www.smap.com.au/downloads.shtml

A fix for fieldTask should be available soon.

Google Map Keys Are Back

From the 22nd June 2016 you once again need an access key in order to use the google maps API.  This is a return to the situation as it was before version 3 of Google Maps.   However this change currently only applies to new web sites which is why I hadn’t noticed it up until now.

Smap does not use the Google Maps API directly to draw maps, instead we use Openlayers and Mapbox, however we do use it to retrieve google street maps and google satellite base maps.  If you have recently installed a new Smap server you may find these base maps no longer show up.

The problem has been addressed in version 16.06.11 of the Smap Server which is available from the downloads page of the Smap website.  This version has an extra tab on the users page labelled “Server”.  You will need the “Organisational Administrator” role to see this tab.


To get the google maps back you only need to set the google maps key. However you can also set the server level mapbox key and email configuration from this tab.

Version 16-06

New Features

Online Editor

1. Info Dialog

There was a problem with the editor in the previous release that it would not show that you had created a new form that shared a table with an existing form.  An “info” dialog has been added under the “file” menu to show this sort of information.


Info Dialog

The “Based On” text in the dialog shows the survey name and the form name that the new survey was based on.  These names are separated by double colons “::”.

2. Make questions read only

You can now make questions read only or convert them to writable when in the online editor.

Referencing data from other form

1. Specify a unique key for each record

Previously the only unique keys associated with a record of data were generated when the data was collected.  These are the “prikey” and the instanceId.  However if you then edit the previously collected data new versions of these keys are created.   Now you can specify a “Human Readable Key” as a combination of answers to questions in the form plus an internally generated number to make sure it is unique.   Its these questions from the form that make the key “Human Readable”, for example a key could be “Zambia-2016-11”.  This key will not be changed if the data is edited.

2. Link a question to data in another form

In the online editor you can specify that a question links to a “Human Readable Key” (HRK) in another form.  Then if you answer that question by entering an HRK the data can be linked in reports.  For example you may have a form that maintains assets and another form to report a fault.  If you enter the HRK for the asset into the form recording a fault then reports can be created on the faults per asset.

You can enter the HRK as a text question, using a Barcode question or a select_on question.

3. Referencing data collected by other forms

Previously it has been possible to load CSV files containing data that can be referenced, or used to create choice lists, while filling in a form.  It is possible to:

  1. extract previously collected data
  2. edit it into a suitable CSV file
  3. Then upload that CSV file for use by another survey

This new features simplifies that whole process by allowing you to reference other surveys instead of CSV files.  The latest data is then automatically extracted when you refresh fieldTask.

Browse Results

The results browser is available from the webforms module. Features include:

  1. Select the columns to show
  2. Filter on all “select one” type questions
  3. Search for text in the results

View Logs

It is now possible to view logs showing various events such as deleting or erasing forms and also viewing the data in forms.

Access the log by selecting the new module called “manage”.  There should be a high volume of logs generated, you can sort them and filter on survey name, user and event type.  You can also do a text search.

Bug Fixes

  1. Smap Uploader was failing to upload data using https.
  2. If no data had been submitted for a survey then a blank survey template could not be generated.

Version 16.05

New Features

A better “download the form” dialog

When you select the download button next to a form name on the form management page you will see a dialog asking what you want to download.   You can often download either of two versions of the form template as an XLS file.

  • The original XLS file uploaded to the server
  • The latest version of the form including modifications that you have made using the editor on the server

These two choices are now a little clearer.


The first choice is now the latest version of the form.  Next to the choice is the current version number.  The second choice is now the original XLS file, however if no XLS file was loaded then this choice will not be shown.  The version number for the original XLS file will always be “1”.

Logon button on the home page

You can now login and also logout from the home page.  The menus that you will see on the home page change according to your role and whether or not you are logged in.

Improved Task Management (Hosted Servers Only)

A new improved task management page has been added.  This is only available on hosted Smap servers and won’t be available in the download version.  New features include:

  • Import / Export of tasks to an XLS file
  • Viewing tasks on a calendar


Version 16-04



New Features

Required Message

You can now specify a message to be shown to the user if a question is “required” and they try to skip it.  Enter the message in the column with a heading “required_message” in the survey template. (update) You can now also add the required message using the editor.  Select required as the attribute you want to modify and enter the message next to the button that sets the question as required.

Take a new picture

When the user answers an “image” type question in fieldTask they normally have the option of taking a new picture or selecting a picture already on the phone.  Adding the “nochoose” appearance value removed the option of selecting an existing picture.  This capability has now been expanded to “annotate” questions.    To use this:

  • Create a question of type “image”
  • Add an appearance of “annotate nochoose”

In the previous version of Smap this would only work no normal image questions that did not have annotate.

Autoplay of Video and Audio

If you include video or audio as part of the question then you can set these to play automatically when the question is shown to the data collector.  This can be done in the XLS survey template by specifying “video” or “audio” in the “autoplay” column.  You can also specify this in the online editor.

Times shown in local time rather than UTC

If you delete a form and then view the list of deleted forms the name of the form will include the date and time it was deleted.  For newly deleted forms this time will now be in the local time of your browser.  Interestingly if you are discussing deleted forms with somebody in a different time zone then you will each see a different form name (at least the data/time part of it).

FieldTask 3.14 Included on the server

This is the latest version of fieldTask that is also available in the google play store.  Details on new functionality.

Other Changes

  1. Importing of data into a survey has been moved from the task management page to the analysis page.  To import data from a CSV file create a table view, open the “aside” and then click on the import button.