Starting a new form
To create a new form, navigate to the Design tab, scroll down to the Your forms and datasets section, and click + and then Start new form (or, if you want to duplicate an existing form, click the Duplicate option for that form). You will be able to start editing right away in the online form designer – or download a new form template to your local computer (as an Excel file) or to Google Drive (as a Google Spreadsheet). Either way, you will be asked for the following:
- Form title. This is the visible title by which the form will be known to you and your team.
- Form ID. This is the unique ID that will identify the form. While the form title can have spaces and can be changed from time to time, the form ID must not contain spaces and must remain fixed for the life of the form. The form ID must also begin with a letter, and can only include letters, numbers, underscores, and hyphens (no other punctuation or special characters).
The new-form panel includes a few other options:
- Use a sample form as your starting point? If you enable this option, you will be able to select one of our sample forms as a starting point for your own form. It will be renamed with the form title and ID that you entered, but otherwise it will be a working sample, ready to customize.
- Advanced option: Do you want this form's data to be encrypted? If you check this box, then an additional step will allow you to attach a public encryption key to your form, so that all submitted data is safely encrypted. (See the Encrypting form data help topic for more on data encryption.)
- Advanced option: Auto-generate fields necessary for pre-loading data? If you check this box, then additional steps will guide you through some choices relevant to pre-loading data into your form; your form will then include the necessary fields to pre-load that data. (See Pre-loading data into a form for more on pre-loading data.)
Getting started with your new form: using the designer
If you click the Edit online option at the end of the Start new form (or Duplicate) process, then you'll go straight into the online form designer. From there, you can easily add fields to your form, test, save, and even deploy for data collection.
Getting started with your new form: using the spreadsheet template
If you instead use one of the Advanced download options to download your new form as a template, then you will download an Excel workbook or Google Sheet with three worksheets in it, plus three quick-reference help worksheets.
One of those worksheets is a settings worksheet, which will have its cells pre-populated based on your form title, form ID, and encryption settings. The other two worksheets are where you will configure all of the specifics of your survey form. The choices worksheet specifies all valid choices for multiple-choice questions, and the survey worksheet specifies everything else about your survey form.
The default template includes a series of pre-configured fields at the top. These save details about when the survey was started and ended, how much time was spent in total, and the device on which the survey was filled out; none of these fields are ever seen by surveyors: they are saved automatically.
Your task is to add questions to this default template to make it your own. See the other help topics in this section for details on the field types and techniques at your disposal. To get you started, there are a few example questions in the default template; you can start by either deleting or modifying them.
Once you have customized your form, go back to the Your forms and datasets section of the Design tab, click +, and then click Upload form definition to upload it to your server. Once the form is on your server, you can click Test to preview and test it in your web browser, click Fill out on the Collect tab to fill it out using a web browser, or download the form onto a device by choosing Get Blank Form from the SurveyCTO Collect main menu. See the help topic on collecting data for more about the actual data-collection part of the process.
(By the way, you should maintain back-up copies of your form definitions for your records – but don't worry if you lose track of one. The Your forms and datasets section of the Design tab has a Download option you can use to download the form definition for any form on your server. You can even download a printable version of your form, if that's helpful.)