Introduction to OpenRosa
OpenRosa/ODK is the name of ecosystem that Enketo Smart Paper is a part of. Tools within this ecosystem follow a standardized open-source form format and a standardized way of communicating with each other. Other well-known tools within this ecosystem are Open Data Kit, KoBoToolbox and Ona.
Who is it for?
The OpenRosa ecosystem is best suited for organizations and people for whom one or more of the following requirements is valid:
- require tools that follow a non-proprietary form format and communication protocols
- require a system that they can easily add components to or remove components from
- require forms that have complex skip and validation logic
- require tools that are open-source*
- require advanced data collection in places that do not have internet access
What are the components?
The beauty of the OpenRosa ecosystem is that for each of the components illustrated in the diagram, several options are available, which are built and maintained by different groups.
Some tools have spun-off from their originators and have branched in different directions. This has resulted in a vibrant community with a wide selection of competitive and complementary tools.
Who are the major players?
- Harvard Humanitarian Initiative : Kobo Toolbox
- OpenClinica LLC : Various OpenClinica Tools
- GeoODK : GeoODK Collect
- Enketo LLC : Enketo Smart Paper
- University of Washington - Seattle : ODK
- Ona : Ona
- Nafundi LLC : (ODK, custom)
- Dimagi Inc : CommCare
- Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia University : (Formhub, now dead)
- Dobility Inc : SurveyCTO
Form Management & Data Aggregation
The requirements for choosing this crucial component will vary greatly from organization to organization, so we recommend having a look at all of them to determine which one fits best.
ODK Aggregate, KoBoCAT, and Ona are integrated with Enketo, and you'll have the option to use both Collect and Enketo Smart Paper.
Form Building Tools
ODK build has the shortest learning curve. It is, however, not suitable for users that require complex or long forms, and a major disadvantage is that forms created with ODK Build cannot be deployed everywhere, e.g. not on KoBo and Ona.
XLSForm is a bit harder to learn, but a key advantage is that after the initial learning curve, it becomes very easy to build and maintain forms. Another advantage is that forms created with XSLForms can be deployed anywhere in the OpenRosa ecosystem.
A new tool by KoBoToolbox, that continued the earlier excellent work of Alex Dorey, provides a Graphical User Interface for XLSForm. This easy-to-use tool was launched on kobotoolbox.org in 2014 and is starting to revolutionize form building in the OpenRosa ecosystem. In 2017, Ona launched a fork of KoBo's formbuilder.
The two options are Enketo Smart Paper and ODK Collect (there are also various tools that are based on ODK Collect which are grouped together for this comparison). The options are complementary, and it is recommended to decide on a survey-to-survey basis which is the most suitable. The following table demonstrates the key differences:
|Enketo (web)||ODK Collect|
|Web (any device)|
|Android mobile app|
|Dedicated Single Submission view|
|Easy installation + updates on user device|
|Drawings and signature input|
|Geoshape and geotrace inputs|
|Analog scale inputs|
|Linking with external mobile apps|
|Large text input|
|Additional paper + pencil collection workflow support|
|Embedding forms into any webpage|
|Retaining submitted data locally|
|Setting default values dynamically via API|
|Creating choice lists from external data||incompatible||incompatible|
|Querying external data in any XPath expression just like internal data.|
Linked with Data Aggregation component. The options are too numerous to mention.
Some tools have analysis built-in. Others focus on exporting data into formats that can easily be imported into tools of your choice.
- * not all OpenRosa-compliant tools are open-source but open-source options are available for all components of an OpenRosa-compliant system.