Using XLSform... best converter out there?

Hi all –

I have a giant form to build, and therefore I am happy that I can use the
XLSform format to then convert into a Xform that I will nicely paste into
my commcare app… rather than building the big form by hand in the forms
editor.

However, I am finding there are weaknesses in theCommCare documentation for
this, which is at
https://confluence.dimagi.com/display/commcarepublic/Use+Excel+to+Build+CommCare+Forms

– First off, the documentation says this sentence:
FormHub is not actively supported, so we recommend using XLSForm.
… I think that warning is a bit nonsensical, and had me disoriented for a
while. Definitely the FormHub website is not being actively maintained for
years now (though it still mostly works.) BUT, it seems that you can not
simply “use XLSform” as an alternative as the above text implies, right?
XLSform is simply the standard, and that XLSform website has great guidance
but does NOT have an actual “upload your XLSform here to convert it to an
Xform.”

-- For that actual crucial "Convert your excel to an xform document" 

function, it really looks like the only converter that is actually
discussed on that documentation page is still that FormHub site, right? If
so, that misleading text should be clarified.

--And second... *CAN* anyone tell me any *other options *for an online 

converter to change my XLSform document into an Xform XML document?
Because… that FormHub site gives me error messages with text about the
site being over capacity more than half the time! I’d love to clearly know
where other converters are!

Thanks for your help!

Eric

Hi Eric!

I’m pretty new to Dimagi so don’t have much to say re: your FormHub issues
or loading XForms into CommCare, I’m sorry to report. However, I’ve worked
a bit in ODK and maybe can help to clarify:

XLSForm is the online tool that converts Excel-based forms into XML-based
XForms. Here’s the upload page: http://opendatakit.org/xiframe/ . It worked
well as of about 9 months ago, but looks like they’ve also linked to a few
other converters in case you have issues…however, I’m not sure the others
are free. Also highly recommend testing your forms online using their
Validate tool: saves a lot of heartache by ID’ing errors, which it does
pretty well: https://opendatakit.org/use/validate/.

Hope this is helpful, and I bet someone else will get back to you soon re:
your higher-level questions. I don’t doubt that the Confluence page could
use some updating–managing our wiki is a bit ad-hoc–so thanks for
bringing it to our attention.

Good luck!

Best,
Jordan

··· On Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 3:05 PM, Eric Stephan wrote:

Hi all –

I have a giant form to build, and therefore I am happy that I can use the
XLSform format to then convert into a Xform that I will nicely paste into
my commcare app… rather than building the big form by hand in the forms
editor.

However, I am finding there are weaknesses in theCommCare documentation
for this, which is at https://confluence.dimagi.com/
display/commcarepublic/Use+Excel+to+Build+CommCare+Forms

– First off, the documentation says this sentence:
FormHub is not actively supported, so we recommend using XLSForm.
… I think that warning is a bit nonsensical, and had me disoriented for
a while. Definitely the FormHub website is not being actively maintained
for years now (though it still mostly works.) BUT, it seems that you can
not simply “use XLSform” as an alternative as the above text implies,
right? XLSform is simply the standard, and that XLSform website has great
guidance but does NOT have an actual “upload your XLSform here to convert
it to an Xform.”

-- For that actual crucial "Convert your excel to an xform document"

function, it really looks like the only converter that is actually
discussed on that documentation page is still that FormHub site, right? If
so, that misleading text should be clarified.

--And second... *CAN* anyone tell me any *other options *for an

online converter to change my XLSform document into an Xform XML
document? Because… that FormHub site gives me error messages with text
about the site being over capacity more than half the time! I’d love to
clearly know where other converters are!

Thanks for your help!

Eric


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Jordan Levinson
Dimagi India | Field Manager
D - 1/28 Vasant Vihar | New Delhi 110057, India
t: +91 11.46704670 | m: +91 9599692119
www.dimagi.com

- We’re hiring! Find out more here http://www.dimagi.com/about/careers/.
-

Wow! Thanks much. That URL is very helpful. So, either that URL you
provided (http://opendatakit.org/xiframe/) was absent or really buried on
the wiki documentation, or maybe I was just somehow clueless.

-- In any case, if that page could be adjusted to be just a bit more clear,
and with the two URLs that you provide placed very front and center, that
would be great.

-- also... is that wiki only edited by dimagi staff? I don't see where to
register for an account for editing it... but maybe that's for the best. :slight_smile:

Hi Eric, glad it helped. We do keep the Confluence editing internal to
Dimagi, but definitely appreciate your suggestions--sounds like some
clarification could be beneficial. I'll take a look or pass them on to
someone more engaged with the process.

Good luck!

Best,
Jordan

··· On Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 8:06 AM, Eric Stephan wrote:

Wow! Thanks much. That URL is very helpful. So, either that URL you
provided (http://opendatakit.org/xiframe/) was absent or really buried on
the wiki documentation, or maybe I was just somehow clueless.

-- In any case, if that page could be adjusted to be just a bit more
clear, and with the two URLs that you provide placed very front and center,
that would be great.

-- also... is that wiki only edited by dimagi staff? I don't see where to
register for an account for editing it... but maybe that's for the best. :slight_smile:

--
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--
Jordan Levinson
Dimagi India | Field Manager
D - 1/28 Vasant Vihar | New Delhi 110057, India
t: +91 11.46704670 | m: +91 9599692119

- We're hiring! Find out more here http://www.dimagi.com/about/careers/.
-

Hi Eric,

We have updated the page to make the links more prominent and added the
suggestion for the validation tool; hope this helps!

Jeremy

··· On Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 5:54:12 AM UTC+2, jlevinson wrote: > > Hi Eric, glad it helped. We do keep the Confluence editing internal to > Dimagi, but definitely appreciate your suggestions--sounds like some > clarification could be beneficial. I'll take a look or pass them on to > someone more engaged with the process. > > Good luck! > > Best, > Jordan > > On Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 8:06 AM, Eric Stephan <estep...@gmail.com > wrote: > >> >> Wow! Thanks much. That URL is very helpful. So, either that URL you >> provided (http://opendatakit.org/xiframe/) was absent or really buried >> on the wiki documentation, or maybe I was just somehow clueless. >> >> -- In any case, if that page could be adjusted to be just a bit more >> clear, and with the two URLs that you provide placed very front and center, >> that would be great. >> >> -- also... is that wiki only edited by dimagi staff? I don't see where >> to register for an account for editing it... but maybe that's for the best. >> :) >> >> -- >> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups >> "commcare-users" group. >> To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an >> email to commcare-user...@googlegroups.com . >> For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout. >> > > > > -- > Jordan Levinson > Dimagi India | Field Manager > D - 1/28 Vasant Vihar | New Delhi 110057, India > t: +91 11.46704670 | m: +91 9599692119 > www.dimagi.com > > *- We're hiring! Find out more here > . -* >

Thanks for adjusting the wiki page you guys!

Hey, I have just worked out a few points that are pretty valuable (about
using foreign languages/alphabets with the XML) that would belong on that
wiki documentation page…

Could you guys take the text that I have written below, and consider it for
placement into that XLSform wiki page? If you do use it, feel free to make
edits or corrections. Thanks!

··· ======

Using non-Latin languages and alphabets in the XLSform-XML process

If you choose to use XLSform’s ability to handle multiple languages, by
reading the XLSforms documentation and adding additional columns to contain
the additional language content, please note the following:

  • The XLSform documentation tells you to create additional columns and
    give those new columns headers like label::English. However, if your
    purpose is to eventually paste that XML into CommCare, then you need to be
    careful about what the title of the language you use in those column
    headers. For commcare use, you should not use the full language name like
    "English," but instead must use the “short language codes,” such as en
    and tha, that are shown in the little “Languages” pull-down menu in
    CommCare’s left nav bar. Therefore your additional column headers will look
    like label::en or required_message::tha.
  • If your additional language content uses alphabets other than the
    latin character set, you will have to be careful about the way that you
    handle the process of copying your finally converted XML file into
    CommCare. Normally, many users would simply double-click the XML file that
    they had downloaded from the converter, select-all and copy, and then paste
    that XML into the CommCare forms editor. However, on Windows, it is likely
    that the default application that loads when you double-click the XML
    document will not display the non-latin character set correctly, and will
    therefore paste as gibberish into your CommCare form. If this happens,
    then, when you download the XML document from the converter, open it in a
    text-editing application that is more able to handle non-latin alphabets
    (one example is the Notepad++ app for Windows.) This app will correctly
    handle the non-latin characters in the XML, and then you can successfully
    cut-and-paste from that app into the CommCare form editor.