Collecting data is a vital part of any organization’s strategy these days; from understanding the inner workings of your team and services, to your audience’s needs and the context within which you operate, structured data can provide crucial insights to complement the informal observations and anecdotes an organization gathers over time.
Determining what data an organization can and should collect is a nuanced conversation involving the organization’s mission and strategy, their staffing and capacity, and the legal and ethical implications.
However, once an organization knows what they want to collect, the decision of how to collect it can be daunting. When it comes to surveys in particular, there are a plethora of tools to turn to. From paper and pen, to Survey Monkey and Google Forms, all the way to bespoke websites and apps, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Out-of-the-box tools that many turn to, like Google Forms and Survey Monkey, provide user-friendly interfaces and are easy to set up, with little-to-no learning curve. With this ease of use comes an understandable limitation on the types of questions and amount of personalization available to the user.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have tools like docassemble — a free and open-source platform that helps the user build an extremely customized data collection tool that adapts to users’ responses and ultimately focuses on document preparation. Think “TurboTax” for surveys. For advanced technical teams, tools like this can make them feel like kids in a candy shop, whereas those earlier in their data and tech journeys might feel frozen in their tracks.
What about the users in the middle? Those with a coding foundation who want a bit more control over the data collection experience — who want to make it theirs — but who don’t want to be overwhelmed by options? This is exactly what one of our technologically-budding partners needed to reach more users, and just what we built for them over the past year.
Today, we’re open sourcing this survey tool, so that others may benefit from a solution that is a bit more middle-ground between ease of use and flexibility. In addition to the core library, we’re open sourcing an example web app to allow users to more quickly launch a survey without having to dig too far into design elements.
We also have plans on the horizon to develop a UI that would help users who are less confident with code build out their survey through a click-based interface. We welcome any contributors to this next feature; click here to access the open issue.
As always, our team is eager for public input. Are there areas where we can improve documentation? Have you come across any bugs? Are you having any trouble using the tool? Please reach out with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions by submitting an issue on Github or emailing us at email@example.com.