This winter included many SurvLoop system upgrades while building out the Cannabis PowerScore. It collects information of resource efficiency from cannabis growers. This is the third installation of my SurvLoop open data management software — OpenPolice.org is coming soon, DrugStory.me is live.
We have beta tested with two cannabis competitions to provide growers with a bonus point or two on their flower submission, and we’ve collected over 80 PowerScores so far. Over time, growers will be able to learn from each others practices, and energy businesses and organizations can calibrate incentives programs for becoming more energy efficient.
The methods of building public Pages (using the same branching-tree-node-tools as constructing Surveys) have gained a couple little bells and whistles. We’ve got the first draft of a gallery slider widget, which can slide between any set of [complex] nodes.
But most of this season’s upgrades occurred within the survey process. Pages are now auto-saving in the background every minute! One technique which I plan to make a standard option for Surveys, is to include a spot at the bottom of each survey page for feedback about that page. This should help us to better organize direct user feedback.
There are new question formats using tables. Like simplified spreadsheets, this can better present and capture some types of questions. So far, they can have multiple columns, create a row for each member of a set, or let you create rows as you go.
There is the first draft of a new slider widget to select a number by dragging the mouse, at specified increments. Pressing up and down in the text field is also interactive. The slider widget can also be repeated for rows in a table.
There are also now nested checkbox responses built into SurvLoop! So the user can check one or more boxes to reveal a deeper level of checkboxes. In one case this is happening within a loop, repeating a two-tier checkbox question for each member of a data subset (database record + one-to-many relationship + one-to-many relationship). This is feeling fairly sturdy thus far, and significantly increases the complexity SurvLoop can handle by default.
Radio button questions now have an option to collapse responses not selected. So after the user makes a choice, it will hide the other options, show a button to reveal them again (or reveal by deselecting the radio button), and free up visual and mental space on the page.
It’s not a one-click-setting yet, but soon enough… It should be easy to add a little information icon to the end of [each] checkbox or radio response, which will slide down more information within the response. This will help clean up some pages which need to include all the nuance.
The final PowerScore Report is hard-coded on top, with decent data presentation with my relatively weak eye for graphic design. But SurvLoop creates this as a Report Page, and the bottom half is automatically generated! This page has the same core table as the PowerScore Survey, and is linked to it as a Report. So the same engine which digs through to print saved data into form fields, get reused to print without the forms.
This will end up saving a couple thousand lines of hard-code for Open Police Complaints’s Reports. It will also automate the process of identifying data fields which are filled in the Survey but missing from the Report. And it will also automate respect of privacy settings on the database design level, ensuring that potentially sensitive information is only shown to the correct eyes.
On the admin side, there is a now a first draft of a Session Stats page associated with each Survey. This currently graphs recent usage activity and provides some overall statistics. It also graphs and calculates how long it took each user to get how far through the survey. For example, many users stopped on Page 2 within 5 minutes, and it took those who made it through to 100% completion between 5 and 70 minutes. And below there are detailed timestamp records of the potentially winding adventures chosen by recent users.
The general SEO management for the system defaults has been upgraded and replicated to be controlled for each Page, finally! Admins now have built-in SEO suggestions and a preview of approximately how it should look when sharing a Page in Facebook. I’ve also created a first crude draft of a tool for admins to upload images for general use throughout the website (content management).
You might notice I attempted to clean up the admin menu, and my eyes like it more now. On the system settings page, you’ll see another new technique of smooth-scrolling through different sub-menu links (hard-coded). I look forward to replacing Open Police Complaints’ existing volunteer tools for crowd-source research on police departments. It will soon be rebuilt as an admin-only SurvLoop-generated Survey, and be one long page with similar smooth-scrolling.
I think that’s the highlight reel from the coldest coding months. And we are looking forward to soft-launching an Open Police Complaints pilot program in the next month! So stay tuned…
In addition to the older instructions on getting started with open source co-development on your local machine,
…I’ve also just created a first draft of instructions for installing SurvLoop on a Digital Ocean server droplet: