Questionnaire Designer

Text substitution

In Survey Solutions the questionnaire designer may design questionnaires that use text substitution, denoted with an identifier enclosed in percentage signs, like so: %varname%. In other software this may be known under the term “text piping”, “answer piping”, “text propagation”, etc. The common situations when you may want to use this are: mention an answer collected earlier; display a calculated result; display reference values, etc. For text substitution it is important what may be substituted in, and where a substitution may be used.

January 24, 2020

Randomizing order of questions

This article is motivated by this user question. In this example we will consider similar questions (all of them categorical single-select) rating different aspects of the stay in a resort hotel. Our objective is to present the questions in different order for different respondents. Our other objective is to avoid pre-programming sequences of questions, as this is tedious and creates questionnaires with just a few sequences of questions. We will rely on the following Survey Solutions elements:

July 17, 2017

Alternatives to Date Type Question

A date type question requires three components of the date to be specified: year, month, day. If any of them is not known, the interviewers may not enter the other ones, even if they are known. When this is not acceptable, date type question should not be used. Instead consider one of the following alternatives: Three separate questions; Patterned text question, with pattern specified as ####-##-## Categorical question with year-month combinations, such as: 2016-September 2016-October 2016-November 2016-December 2017-January 2017-February 2017-March 2017-April

April 20, 2017

Mandatory (required) questions

In Survey Solutions any question may be left unanswered for reasons beyond the control of the questionnaire designer. The respondent may refuse to answer a particular question, don’t know the answer, or a family member may be unavailable for answering. Every once in a while our support team is receiving questions on how to designate a question “required”, so that the interview may not proceed unless this particular question is answered.

April 18, 2017

Replacement strategies

Every sample-based survey is subject to non-response either for the reason of refusal or problems of locating the household: household has moved, person died, address recorded incorrectly, etc. Whichever is the reason, it must be properly reflected in the interview result code - a categorical variable set by the interviewer to indicate the outcome of the visit to the household. Survey Solutions doesn’t do sampling. A sampling specialist should perform sampling for your survey.

April 10, 2017

Selecting a person

For random selection refer to this article. Here an example of determined selection is discussed. Consider you wish to select a child attaining the lowest grade, with selecting younger children to break the ties. We define selname as a string variable: selname=PERSONS.Where( p=>IsAnswered( && IsAnswered(p.age) && IsAnswered(p.grade) ).Where( p=>p.age.InRange(5,15) && p.grade.InRange(1,98) ).OrderBy(p=>p.grade).ThenBy(p=>p.age).First().name Note that if there are two or more children of the same age and grade exist in the same household, then the one entered first will be selected.

February 23, 2017

Formatting Text

Question texts and static-texts can be formatted with a series of html tags. The html tags that can currently be used in Survey Solutions are described in this article. Line break Use <br> to insert a line break. Italic Use <i> *to begin the use of italics. Then, use* </i> when you want to discontinue the use of italics. Underline Use <u> to begin the use of underline. Then, use </u> when you want to discontinue the use of underline.

June 22, 2016

Testing Scenarios

Survey Solutions scenarios represent a storage of responses provided during a testing session. The objective is not to collect the data (use Interviewer App for that), but to simplify testing of complex questionnaires which require a certain time-consuming input. Two actions are available for a scenario in the Designer: view: review the answers entered in the scenario; run: start testing and apply the scenario to the questionnaire.

September 30, 2019

Testing Your Questionnaire with the Online Tester

After creating your questionnaire you will need to test how the questionnaire operates (enabling and validation conditions). There are two ways to test your questionnaire, 1) the Tester app on an Android tablet or 2) the online Tester using a web browser on the computer. This article will walk you through the process of accessing your questionnaire on the online Tester. If you would like to know how to use the tablet Tester application, please refer to this article.

April 23, 2018

Testing Your Questionnaires Using the Tester Application

Although the web-based Questionnaire Designer application provides an easy way to create your questionnaire, sometimes you need to see what the questionnaire looks like on a device screen and how the questionnaire operates (conditions and variables). Depending on the mode of data collection, and the stage of testing you can choose to test the questionnaire with the Tester app on a tablet or the online tester. This article will walk you through the process of installing and testing your questionnaire using the Android Questionnaire Tester app on a tablet.

July 21, 2016

Create and Modify Components

This article will show you how to create, select, copy, move, and delete questionnaire components.   Create  All questionnaire components with the exception of sections can be created in the same manner. There are two methods for creating these questionnaire components (questions, sub-sections, rosters, variables and static texts).  To create a questionnaire component (except sections): First Method   Click on the *Add Question* button located on the left hand side of the navigation pane to create a question.

June 16, 2016

Questionnaire Components

Sections Any questionnaire created with this designer tool consists of sections and must have at least one section. Every section can in turn contain one or more: Sub-sections, Question, Roster, Static Text, and Variables. Sub-sections Subsections can contain one or more static-texts, questions, other sub-sections and rosters. They are used to group a set of questions related to a specific topic. For instance in household surveys a subsection can be used to group the questions related to the household’s characteristics.

June 16, 2016

GPS Question

Description A GPS question expects a set of geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude, accuracy, altitude), which identify the location of the tablet. This type of question can be answered using a GPS-enabled tablet. In addition to using a GPS question to get specific locations (e.g. household or enterprise), it can also be used to define the area of a land. An area can be defined by creating GPS questions for each point that defines the land’s area.

June 18, 2016

List Question

Description A list question expects an open list of answers. Each answer can contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, a-z,0-9) and basic punctuation symbols. By default the enumerator can add up to 40 items; however you can limit the number of items that can be listed by defining the maximum number of answers. For example, very frequently national household surveys ask the enumerator to list all the household members, instead of first asking for the total number of people living in the household and then for their names.

June 18, 2016

Date Question

Description    A date question expects a date from the Gregorian calendar as an answer.   Creating a date question  In Questionnaire Designer, Click on the Question Type box. Select Date from the list displayed.  How a date question appears on a tablet To answer a date question an enumerator must do the following: Tap on the question box. A Gregorian calendar displays.

June 18, 2016

Numeric Question

Description A num eric question expects an answer to contain numeric characters (0-9). The answer can be an integer or a real number. You also have the option of assigning the number of decimals places to be accepted in the answer or formatting the answer to language specific thousands and decimal separator. By default a numeric question expects a integer number answer. In addition, numeric questions can be extended with special values as categorical selections.

June 17, 2016

Text Question

Description A text question expects an answer to contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, a-z, 0-9), basic punctuation, symbols, and spaces. The structure of the answer can be defined using a pattern. This may be used for phone numbers, id codes and flight numbers. The picture below displays a default text question on a tablet that accepts alphanumeric characters with no specific pattern defined. The picture below displays a text question on a tablet with a specific pattern defined.

June 17, 2016

Question Scope

The scope of a question defines who will be responsible for answering it. The scopes are: interviewer, identifying, hidden, and supervisor.  To change the question scope from the default,  Click on the *Question scope* dropdown box on the bottom right hand corner of the question edit screen.  Select the appropriate question scope.  Interviewer When the scope interviewer is selected, enumerators ask the questions from the interviewee and enter their responses on the tablet.

June 17, 2016

General Component Properties

When you select a questionnaire component, you can see its details on the right hand panel. Each component is defined by a set of properties. Some features are common to all questionnaire components, and others are defined for specific components. In this article you will learn how to define variable names, variable labels, question texts, question types, interviewer instructions, and conditions. Variable name The *variable name* is the unique identifier of a component, which is useful when exporting the data for analysis.

June 17, 2016

Survey Solutions Limits

The table below summarizes some of the Survey Solutions limits. It is not advisable to design a questionnaire on the margin of these limits. Limit Value Maximum number of questions in a section: 400 [questions] Maximum number of roster elements in a single roster (including rosters nested into it): 10,000 [items] Maximum number of roster elements in the whole questionnaire: 80,000 [items] Maximum question text length: 500 [characters]  Maximum length of a variable label: 80 [characters] Maximum variable name length for most question types: 32 [characters] Maximum variable name length for GPS and some other question types: 20 [characters] Maximum number of GPS questions marked as prefilled: 1 [question] Maximum nesting depth for rosters: 4 [levels] Maximum nesting depth for sub-sections

February 15, 2019

Roster limits

Survey Solutions provides capabilities for building complex multilevel data structures and at the same time prevents these data structures from exploding uncontrollably. Earlier this has been done at design-time - when the questionnaire was checked during compilation, error [WB0262]:Roster has reached size limit. Reduce roster size or decrease nesting. was sometimes issued, when the structure may have resulted in a large (multiple thousands of) number of items. At design time the actual number of elements was not known, so the Survey Solutions applied the pessimistic strategy of taking maximum values for each trigger.

January 14, 2019

Design limitations by question type

When laying out the questionnaire in the Survey Solutions Designer, mind the following design restrictions by question type: Type of question Can be used as interviewer Can be used as supervisor Can be used as identifying Can be used as hidden Can be preloaded Can be used in substitutions Can be used in Web interviews Audio YES NO NO NO NO NO YES Barcode YES NO NO NO YES YES YES

March 12, 2018

Recognized Barcode Formats

The barcode question allows optical recognition of the following barcode types: Aztec Code Codabar Code 11 Code 25,  Code 39 Code 93 Code 128 Data Matrix GS1 DataBar  MSI Plessey PDF417 QR Code EAN UPC The exact type of the barcode is determined automatically during recognition and doesn’t have to be specified during questionnaire design.

February 2, 2017

Multimedia reference

Survey Solutions from version 5.7 allows the users embedding images into questionnaires. These images can be presented by configuring the static text elements. For details on the use of the images in the questionnaires, see the article on Questionnaire Attachments. The following file types are supported: File type Extension Max dimensions Portable Network Graphics *.png 4096x4096 Joint Photographic Experts Group *.jpg 4096x4096 We recommend combined size of attached files not to exceed 2MB to avoid slow synchronization.

October 3, 2016

Recent Changes to the Questionnaire

To see the record of all recent changes made to the questionnaire, click on the History button located on the top right of the page. This page will list the question that was changed along with the username of the person who made the change, and the timestamp for when the change was done. The Action button allows access to the menu with the following choices: View - open the questionnaire in the state corresponding to this revision.

November 19, 2019

Sharing a questionnaire

Survey Solutions Designer tool allows collaborative use of a questionnaire by multiple users. To share a questionnaire: Open the questionnaire you want to share; Select ‘Settings’ and switch to the collaborators tab: Type the email or login of a person you want to share the questionnaire with. Select mode of sharing ‘Edit’ or ‘View’. Click ‘Invite’ button. The collaborator account must already exist. If your new collaborator doesn’t have an account at the Survey Solutions Designer ask it to be created first.

August 7, 2019

Find and Replace

In this article you will lean how to use the search, and find and replace features in Designer. These features are particularly useful when making systematic changes to your questionnaire. Search  To search within a section, Click the search icon (or press Ctrl + F). Enter a text in the search box that appears. To search within the entire questionnaire (including conditions), Click the search icon (or press Ctrl + F).

November 4, 2016

PDF Export

The PDF file of the questionnaire provides a convenient overview of the whole questionnaire, detailed presentation of the options, conditions and instructions with a smart trimming of long texts and options’ sets. The exported document includes the attachments (images) and a convenient legend page explaining various elements of the preview. To export as a PDF, click on the Export as PDF button under the Action menu button. If you have a multilingual questionnaire, it will ask you to choose a language.

June 22, 2016


To check the questionnaire for errors and system warnings, click on the Compile button located below the questionnaire name. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + B to compile the questionnaire. If no errors and warnings are found, a green text OK will display. If no errors are found, but system warnings are present click on the blue Warning link to see a list of system generated recommendations for your questionnaire.

June 15, 2016

Questionnaire Settings

To update the settings of the questionnaire, click on the Settings button located at the top right of the page. The settings of a questionnaire contain these parameters: Questionnaire name - a visible (human-readable) name of the questionnaire, and Questionnaire variable - a name that will be assigned to the main data file when this questionnaire is exported. Hide element when it is disabled - a flag that enforces all disabled elements in the questionnaire to be hidden when disabled regardless of their individual visibility settings (hide-if-disabled flag).

June 15, 2016

Questionnaire Edit Screen

The main components of the Questionnaire Designer edit screen are:   Settings. Enables you to add and edit collaborator privileges, alter the questionnaire name, and enable or disable the availability of the questionnaire in the public repository of questionnaires in Questionnaire Designer. History. Keeps the record of all recent changes made to the questionnaire, with the corresponding username and timestamp [Test](/questionnaire-designer/testing-your-questionnaire-with-the-online-tester), provides access to the online questionnaire Tester. Compile.

June 15, 2016

Questionnaire Designer Homepage

The Questionnaire Designer home page will appear after you login. This page consists of: ​My Questionnaires. Lists all of your questionnaires (both those that you have created and those that have been shared with you). Click on the name of the questionnaire to open and edit it. Public Questionnaires. Provides access to a number of exemplary questionnaires and tutorials.  Create New. Used to create new questionnaires.

June 14, 2016

Registration and Signing In

You do not need to install anything on your computer to start creating questionnaires in Survey Solutions. Questionnaire Designer is an online tool, which can be reached at To log in for the first time, you need to create an account. To create an account: Click on the Register link and complete the form displayed. Check the email account that you used for registration. Open the confirmation email from wbcapi@worldbank.

June 14, 2016

Circular references

Circular references is a computational problem, which cannot be resolved by a computer because it has no logical beginning and end, for example: Enable question Q1 if question Q2 is enabled, and enable question Q2 if question Q1 is enabled. In this example each of the questions Q1 and Q2 depends on each other, and there is no way to establish whether both should be asked or none at all.

April 2, 2018

Comments in Designer

Comments in Designer are an essential tool for collaboration of multiple users working on the same questionnaire. Each of the collaborators may leave comments to questions, indicating potential problems in implementation, or suggesting improvements. For example, It is common for the reviewers, that have a shared access to a questionnaire to leave the comments for the original author. The full list of comments in all sections of the questionnaire can be seen in the comments tool, which is accessible from the toolbar.

April 2, 2018

Multilingual Questionnaires

This article describes composing multilingual questionnaires. For switching the language of the Survey Solutions software itself and supported languages refer to the localization overview article. Often times researchers work in contexts where respondents of a survey speak different languages. Therefore, to administer surveys and collect higher quality data it is important to have questionnaires in the corresponding language. In Survey Solutions, you can create multilingual questionnaires directly in Designer as follows:

November 2, 2016

Lookup Tables

Lookup tables are reference tables that may be used in validation and enabling conditions. They are prepared as external tab-delimited files and uploaded to the questionnaire in the Designer. We use lookup tables to find content by some code and apply it in validations and enabling conditions as part of larger expressions. Often times this lookup code is a code of an item in a price survey, occupational code in a labor force survey, or a code of crop in an agricultural survey.

June 16, 2016


*Macros* simplify writing complicated expressions with repetitive sub-expressions. Consider for example, that several questions in the questionnaire are applicable to one group of persons, such as women of child-bearing age (let’s say 15-44 years old, exact numbers are of no particular importance here). Suppose the variable for age is age, and for gender is *sex* with values 1 corresponding to males, and 2 to females. Then the following macro can be defined:

June 15, 2016

Questionnaire Attachments

In some situations pictures become an indispensable tool to establish the true meaning of e.g. categories: small, medium, large. Pictures can be added to the questionnaire wherever a static text element is possible (including inside rosters and subsections). The same attachment can be displayed in multiple places in the questionnaire. Check the supported formats in Multimedia Reference. To add an attachment (image) to your questionnaire: Click on the paper clip icon on the toolbar on the left hand side.

June 15, 2016

Panel of Advanced Instruments

The panel of advanced instruments located on the left side of the questionnaire interface provides access to the questionnaire: Table of contents, displays a panel showing all the sections within the questionnaire.   Questionnaire description and survey information, is used to add information about the questionnaire (type of survey, covered country(ies), period of survey, responsible organization, etc). The information filled out here will also be included in the PDF export of the questionnaire.

June 15, 2016