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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 Workspace settings, available toward the bottom of the left sidebar menu.

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. If you use Microsoft Excel, you have the option to export directly to .xlsx format. See looking at data in Microsoft Excel for more details. 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.

Responses to select_one and select_multiple fields

If you would like to export the choice labels in addition to the choice values, you can select the export choice values AND labels option. Doing so will add an extra column in the exported data for all select_one and select_multiple fields. This column will be named [fieldname]_label (where [fieldname] is replaced with the actual fieldname), and will contain the corresponding labels to the selected choices. Selecting this option will reveal two additional options:

  • Override default separator for select_multiple responses. By default, multiple selected options will be separated by " & " (including the surrounding spaces). If you would like to use a different separator, you can enable this option and specify any string you'd like.

  • Manage label languages. If your form contains multiple languages, you can select which language to use for the labels in the exported data. If you do not specify a different language in this menu, or if there is no choice label for the selected language, Desktop will default to using the default form language.

Please note the following important restriction when exporting choice labels: only labels contained in the current form definition are able to be exported. If your choice list was preloaded from an attached .csv (see loading multiple-choice options from pre-loaded data), those choice labels will be unavailable at the time of export. Similarly, if a selected choice no longer exists in the current form definition, or if the selected choice doesn't use a text label (perhaps an image was used instead), then the choice label will not appear in the exported data. Whenever a choice label cannot be exported, it will be replaced with choice label unavailable.

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.

Export missing data?

By default, the columns that appear in your exported data are based on the fields in the latest version of the form definition. Due to this, if a field gets renamed or deleted after you've already received submissions, the responses to those fields will not appear in your exported data, even though they still exist in your local storage folder. To export every single response that was ever submitted for a form, enable the Export missing data? option. Each field that would otherwise have been omitted will be included as an additional column appended to the end of your main export file. When exporting to .sav files (for SPSS), the data type will be set to "text" for all variables added in this way.

Note that if a field's "full name" or "path" (i.e., its location within groups in the form) was changed after receiving submissions, how and where that field will be exported will depend on the Treatment of enclosing groups in exports setting. Regardless of that setting, though, as long as Export missing data? is enabled, you can be confident that all available data will end up in your export.

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 (;).

Skip existing attachments

If there is already a file in the destination directory with the attachment name, do not export that attachment. This option is particularly useful when exporting encrypted forms with lots of attachments. Please note: Desktop uses the filename only to determine whether or not to skip an attachment. If you've modified an attachment after a previous export but left the filename the same, that attachment will be skipped during the next export.

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 workspaces
If you sometimes want to sync with file attachments and sometimes without, you can create a second workspace and configure it differently from your primary workspace. And the same goes for any other setting: each workspace 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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