Saving data

While a participant is filling out the questionnaire, all data entered is stored in a temporary location. Only when the participant presses the Submit button is the data written to permanent storage. The Save page specifies where to save the data.

The first option is to save the data on the server, as a .txt file. This option is only recommended when ViewsFlash is not hosted on a database.

The second option is to write the data to a table in the database. Each response is one row in the table, and each question is one column in the table; question names are used as column names. This option is recommended as the most natural way to store questionnaire data. This option requires that the database administrator grant the ViewsFlash application the right to create tables, which may not be possible, in which case the third option is recommended.

The third option writes the data from all questionnaires where this option is used to a "Normalized database", which is a single table (VWFDATA), in the format of one row per question per response. For example, a questionnaire with 10 questions will write 10 rows for each response; the response includes the name of the question. Because this table is created only once, the ViewsFlash application does not need the right to create database tables. ViewsFlash can be configured to disable any of these options, in which case they will not be available on this page. For in depth information, see Using a database.

The analysis and data retrieval functions of ViewsFlash work equally well with either database format.

Some questionnaires require saving very large text fields. These fields can only be saved in the Noramalized database and text formats. If a very large text field is stored in the questionnaire's own table, the response will be truncated at the maximum possible field width, which can range from 4000 to 667 characters, depending on the database and the use of Unicode text such as Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, etc.. In most instances, there is no practical limit on the amount of text that can be saved in the Normalized database. For complete information, see Using a Database.

1 Click on Show Questions to see which questions are saved. Only those that are checked will be saved. Use the All button to select all the questions. Certain question types don't save data, such as HTML, Actions, and Comments.

2 The Date Stamp and Time Stamp check boxes, when checked, will save the response's date and time of day.

The Browser Value check box (Named Cookie before release 3.4), when checked, will use the specified value from the user's browser and HTTP request and store its value in the data file. This can be useful for correlating data gathered by ViewsFlash with other data previously gathered, using for example an identification cookie tossed by other data gathering applications, or the IP address, or the value of an HTTP header. What is saved is determined by the contents of the Browser Value field, as follows:

cookie=cookiename Saves the content of a cookie by that name
header=headername Saves the content of an HTTP header by that name
value=valuename Saves the content of a servlet session value by that name
attribute=attributename Saves the content of a servlet session attribute by that name
cookiename Saves the content of a cookie by that name
ipaddress Saves the IP address of the originating request

For example, cookie=MYCOOKIE will save the value of a cookie by that name. header=X-FORWARDED-FOR
will save the value of that HTTP header.

The authenticated ID, determined by Authentication in the Settings / Security page, can be saved by checking the Authenticated User ID specified in Security box.

3 When "Save Data as Text File" is checked, ViewsFlash will record the data from each response as one line in an ASCII file. The data can be viewed using Data Retrieval in a variety of formats, including Excel.

Each response is recorded as fields, separated by either Tab characters or in quoted, comma-delimited format ("a","b","1 2 3"). It is possible, by checking the appropriate box, to save the question names as the first record of the file. Lines can be terminated with a carriage return and linefeed or by a linefeed only.

When using quoted, comma delimited format, any line breaks entered by visitors in multi-line text entry forms are converted to spaces, and double quotes (") are replaced by single quotes ('), so that they can conform to this format and import successfully into other software.

4 When "Save data in its own database table" is checked, all responses for this questionnaire are stored in their own database table, one row per response, one column per question. ViewsFlash can create the database table itself, or can use an already created table. It can optionally include the names of the place and the questionnaire. It can also write a unique sequence number to a field (these sequence numbers may not be contiguous).

If the table will be used by other applications, it may be useful to create table indices. Enter one or more question names in the space provided, and an index will be created for each question. If the index should contain unique values, prefix the question name with an asterisk, such as *formnumber.

Once the questionnaire is open and respondents are filling out questionnaires, the data can be viewed by using Data Retrieval in a variety of formats, including Excel.

This format is a questionnaire's natural format for storing data, and other applications such as report generators find this format very easy to work with.

5 When "Save in Normalized Database" is checked, ViewsFlash will store responses in a common database table named VWFDATA, which is shared by all questionnaires that use this option. Data is stored as one row per question; a questionnaire with 50 questions will create up to 50 rows if all questions are answered. Data can be retrieved using Data Retrieval in a variety of formats, including Excel.

This format is difficult for other applications to work with. It is recommended only when Database Administrators do not allow storing questionnaire data in their own tables.

Next: E-mailing responses