SurveyCTO Server Management
(kb: change name to SCTO Server management)
In SurveyCTO, all questionnaires and data associated with a project is uploaded to a server. The word "server" sounds technical but from the perspective of the user experience, it is nothing more complicated than opening a internet browser and logging in to your project's account on SurveyCTO's website. We will keep using the term "server" but for most purposes it can just as well be thought of as an "account".
The server is the hub where all questionnaire and data related to SurveyCTO's is communicated trhough. The server is used for project team to upload questionnaires, for field teams to download those questionnaires, then upload data collected with those questionnaires, and then the project team is downloading the collected data from the field. The servers have more features, but the main purpose is for the project team to communicate which data to collect (by uploading questionnaires) and for the field team to collect and upload that data.
If you are working on a DIME project and you are still just developing your questionnaire, please read about DIME's development server first.
- If you update your server, you must update the SurveyCTO Collect app on all tablets using that server. Only update SurveyCTO collect through the server.
SurveyCTO offers multiple types of plans that suit different project's needs. This section described what features have made different DIME project to use different plans. For full details on the plans, see http://www.surveycto.com/plans.html.
There is one free plan that is an option for new users that wants to explore SurveyCTO. In return for using the free account the user needs to be an active user in the forums on SurveyCTO's website. DIME projects can instead use DIME's development server that is free of charge to the project team. Frequent reasons for a DIME project have this plan despite having access to the developemnt server is if the project wants to upload test data (which is not allowed on the development server) but cannot set up a paid server yet (project funding not dispersed yet) or do not want to set up a paid server yet (data collection is still several months away and these test submissions are very temporary).
In addition to cost, the two main differences between the free plan and the paid plan is that you are not required to participate in the forums when using a paid plan, and a paid plan gives you access to contacting SurveyCTO's support.
There are three paid plans and they differ in two aspects, limits and features. All servers have limits in terms of number of questionnaires on the server, amount of data submitted to the server etc. The more a plan cost the more generous are the limits and the more features are included.
The default option for DIME's projects is to start with the cheapest paid version. The plan can be changed at any time so if you are unsure if you need a more expensive plan, you can take that decision as the need arises. Adding features is a more common reason for a DIME project to upgrade to a more expensive plan rather than increasing limits. The most common reason to upgrade to the medium plan is that the advanced sync options provides a good option if the internet connection in the field, even relative the typical context for a DIME project, is particularly bad. The most common reason to upgrade to the most expensive plan is to get access to SurveyCTO's Data Explorer.
How to organize users
The user account used to set up the server will automatically become an Administrator user. For the purpose of avoiding confusion on who makes updates etc, it is probably a wise idea to keep the numbers of Administrators to two or just a few. Try to avoid only having one Administrator in case an update have to be done urgently in the middle of data collection when the Administror user is unavilible.
You don't need to set up one "Data Collector" account for each tablet. Create one account that you then use on all tablets to log in to the survey.
We do not have any strong opinions on how to assign all the roles between Administrator and Data Collector. Feel free to do this the way you think best serves the need of your project. Many projects end up only using one type of role in addition to Administrator and Data Collector.
Keeping your server up to date
SurveyCTO regularly releases updates for the servers. These updates are not automatically pushed to all servers as one should be careful if updating a server during an ongoing survey. Each version of the survey comes with a corresponding version of the Android app SurveyCTO collect. There is a risk of the communication between the Collect app and the server will have errors if the version of the Android app does not correspond to the version of the server. Ultimately, this can lead to corrupted or lost data.
When you start a new server, you get the latest version by default. It is recommended that the server is updated between each survey round when no data collection is going on. After the server is updated, all tablets need to be updated as well. Never download or update SurveyCTO Collect from Google Play, always exclusively follow the instructions for how to install SurveyCTO Collect on your tablet.
It is important that data is collected in the same version as the questionnaire was developed and tested in. So do your server and SurveyCTO Collect updates before you start developing or making updates to an old questionnaire.
In reality, the risk of corrupted or lost data due to using a server and a questionnaire devloped on two different but consecutive versions of SurveyCTO is low, but unless there is a reason for it it is not worth taking the risk. If there is a new feature released in a new version of SurveyCTO that would add a significant value, it could be justified to update the server in the middle of an ongoing data collection. However, be aware that you are taking a small risk, and try to do it on the day the field team are off so you have time to do at least some testing before you collect data again.
To update the server you need to be logged in to your server as an "Administrator". Then click at the settings symbol at the top of the page, and go to the subscription management page.
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This article is a part of the chapter Questionnaire Programming.