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LimeSurvey is a PHP application aimed at creating and managing surveys and their result sets. It's a great open source replacement for Google Forms which is nothing more than yet another sinister way Google uses to get access to more of people's private information.

Creating surveys

Surveys can be created or existing ones modified from the main page. Surveys are divided into two main aspects in LimeSurvey, the settings and the structure which are available the main tabs on the left sidebar of the survey creation screen. Settings are where the form is given a title, description, welcome and thank you message etc. Structure is the actual content of the survey in the form of groups of questions where each group is effectively a separate page of questions in the final survey. Each question by default expects just a plain text answer, but there are many other answer types available such as numerical, multi-choice, dropdown lists, checkboxes, dates or even file uploads.

You need to add a question-group before you can add any questions. You can add all the groups at once and then start adding the questions or start with the first. You can edit the details of any group or question within a group at any time by clicking on it in the left sidebar when the structure tab is selected. the right panel of the screen is for editing whatever is selected in the left sidebar, and the top bar of the right panel are the buttons related to it for saving the changes etc.

When you're editing or creating a question, the main panel on the right is divided into to sides. The left half is the title, description and text of the question itself, and the answer part where the answer type (type of input) is specified. After you've selected the question text and the input type, you save and close the question. If the question type was a list type, you can edit the list options text with the "edit answer options" button on the top bar. The top bar is also where you can preview the question you've just made to see if it looks right, or even preview the whole group or survey. Previews open in another tab.

Running surveys

After you're happy with the survey, you go back to the settings tab in the left sidebar and go to the "Publication and access" option where you can specify various final details about the survey such as how long it's available for and whether it's public or restricted. Finally you click "Activate this survey" which locks it from further changes, gives you the link to your survey and makes it available to the participants.

You can see the data that's been collected any time from the "Notifications and data" option in the settings tab of the sidebar. You can use the "Export" button in the top bar to export the results as a spreadsheet for final analysis, or to display the results in table format on screen, click the "Responses" dropdown button in the top bar and select "Responses and statistics" then "Display responses" from the top bar.

See also