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SurveyCTO Desktop offers a wide range of options to control how data is processed and exported. You can find all of these options within Desktop settings, available toward the bottom of the Desktop navigation panel.

Data format and processing

Submissions to include

Typically, you will only want to export submissions that have been approved for export. However, you have the option to choose which types of submissions to include. See Reviewing and correcting incoming data to learn more about submission review status.

Export repeat groups in which format?

When a form includes one or more repeat groups, Desktop can either export the form's data in a single wide-format .csv file or a series of long-format .csv files. See Understanding the format of exported data for more on this issue of wide vs. long export formats.

Export to the following file type

By default, Desktop will export data into .csv files, in a comma-separated-value format supported by just about any spreadsheet, database, or statistical analysis software. But if you're an SPSS user, you can export instead to .sav files that include labels and variable formats for SPSS. See Exporting to SPSS for more.

Export select_multiple responses as series of 1/0 columns?

By default, Desktop will export each select_multiple field as a single column that includes a space-separated list of selected choice values (e.g., "1 2 5" or "Boston NYC"). If you prefer a series of 1/0 "dummy" variables, Desktop can also export an additional 1/0 column for each possible selection (though it will slow down the export process somewhat). See Understanding the format of exported data for more on the structure of exported data.

Treatment of enclosing groups in exports

Internally, SurveyCTO stores fields according to a "full name" that includes the field's name as well as the names of all enclosing groups (as in "module1/field1"). One implication of this is that a field named "field1" in one group is treated as effectively different from another field named "field1" that is located in another group. In part as a reflection of this, Desktop has the option to include group names in the column headers of exported .csv files (as in "group1-field1" or even "outergroup-innergroup-field1").

Since most people almost always give unique names to all of the fields in their forms, regardless of which groups they're in, including the group names in the export headers is often unnecessary – and unwanted, because it makes the headers longer and more unwieldy. So, there are two options to exclude those group names from export headers:

  1. Exclude groups but still use them internally. This option simply drops the group names from the export headers, but it still considers fields in different groups to be different fields. So, for example, if you did have a field named "field1" in two different groups, you would end up with two "field1" columns in your exports (because Desktop would be exporting them as different fields, even though they share the same name).
  2. Ignore groups so fields with same name export together (slowest). This option merges data for different fields (in different groups) that share the same name, so that there will never be more than one export column for a single field name. This option slows down the export process, but it can be a life-saver if you have edited your form over time and moved a field from one group to another: Desktop will export old and new data for a field even if it has changed groups. See Updating an existing form for more.

Note that, because Stata and mail-merge templates reference field names as they appear in your .csv headers, you will need to re-generate any Stata .do file templates or Microsoft Word mail-merge templates after changing this option.

Override the default value separator in .csv files

By default, SurveyCTO separates columns in .csv files using commas (after all, CSV stands for "comma-separated values"). Depending on your region, however, your system may prefer to use semi-colons (;'s) or some other character to separate columns in .csv files.

You can override this default and specify some other separator to use. For most cases, you will want to use either a comma (,) or a semi-colon (;).

Other export options

For other data format and processing options not described here, see the following help topics in this section.

Data transformation

Apply corrections?

By default, Desktop will automatically apply all corrections made to data using the review and correction workflow. To export the originally-collected data, without any corrections, un-check the Apply corrections option.

Replace missing values in exported data?

By default, "missing" values are exported as blanks. This includes all cases where a field was never displayed and so the user could not have given a response (the field might not have been relevant, or the field might not have existed in the version of the form filled out by the user). To distinguish these missing cases from cases where the field did display but the user simply left it blank, you can ask Desktop to replace all missing values with some character or string. For example, if you wanted to follow the standard set by Stata, you could configure Desktop to replace missing values with a single period (".").

Replace line-breaks in exported data?

Depending on what software you use to open .csv files exported by Desktop, line-breaks within field values might cause confusion. For example, Microsoft Excel can get confused and start a new row when a field includes a line-break. Therefore, you can have Desktop auto-replace all line-breaks with some other character or string of your choosing. (A single space character is the most popular replacement for line-breaks.)

Exclude note fields from exports?

Forms typically include a lot of note fields, which display something to the user but don't actually record any data. For completeness, Desktop has the option to include these fields in exports – but their columns are always blank. You can use this option to simply exclude them from your exports.

General options

The following are not technically export options (they appear as "general" options), but they do affect the data available for export.

Show test forms?

By default, Desktop won't show forms with titles that begin with "TEST - ", but you can override that by enabling this option. See Hiding forms during testing for more.

Ignore attachments?

Particularly if you are on a poor Internet connection and your data contains a lot of media or other file attachments, you can enable this option to ignore file attachments. When enabled, Desktop will neither download nor export submission file attachments.

Tip: different settings for different desktops
If you sometimes want to sync with file attachments and sometimes without, you can create a second desktop and configure it differently from your primary desktop. And the same goes for any other setting: each desktop has its own settings and local storage, precisely for cases where you need a little extra flexibility to manage your work.
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