Editing a form (created in Excel) in KoBo Toolbox web designer

Hi all,

I’ve created a form using XLSX Form. I was able to create a new project in KoBo Toolbox and upload this XLSForm. The project is created successfully, but I can’t edit the form - the website just hangs up and stop responding. No error in the console or in the UI. I can still deploy the form and collect data using KoBo Collect and send back to the server.

Is it because the form (XLSXForm) has some functionality that is incompatible with KoBo web form designer? I’m able to browse data collected and edit individual entries though. Just can’t edit or preview the empty form.

Any hints would be appreciated!

Would you mind trying it again by switching the browser you are currently using. Kindly please let us know if you are still facing the issue.

Hi, thank you for your super fast follow up!

Initially I’ve experienced this in Chrome (Version 86.0.4240.198 (Official Build) (64-bit)) on Windows 10. After your suggestion I tried Firefox (83.0 (64 bit). The problem is still the same - the page becomes unresponsive. I’ve also tried using another account - the same problem occurs.

The form has one very long code list (over 9k entries) - can this be the issue? However, the form is working fine and smoothly on KoBo Collect and I can preview and edit existing submissions. So it is weird I can’t preview or edit the form in KoBo web designer.

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Just tried uploading (replacing) the same XLSXForm without the long code (choice) list - it is working fine! So this must be due to long choice list. Is there any limitation per list, or a total number of entries (choices) per form? I’m using this long choice list with autocomplete and choice_filter - maybe this is a reason?

Hi @janekb
Whenever you have a long list, you can take advantage of listing choices from external CSV as discussed in our previous discussions below.


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Thanks! I’ve tried using select_one_external field type with a reference to external_choices tab. I can upload the XLSXForm to KoBo, but when deploying, I get “if this problem persists, contact help@kobotoolbox.org. Server Error (500)”. Also, I’m not able to edit the form.
Is this functionality not available in KoBo? I will try also using select_one_from_file.

Here is my XLSXForm with select_one_external
sample_external_choices.xlsx (11.3 KB)

Hi @janekb,

Maybe you could try the select_one_from_file that has been discussed previously (it should solve your issue):

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Hi @Kal_Lam,

Thank you so much for sharing this workflow. I’ve tried using select_one_from_file in my form as well as using sample form shared in your post. I’ve uploaded CSV files to Media section and saved settings. Unfortunately, in both cases (my own form and your samples) I get the same error: invalid data_type: select_one_from_file State_Code.csv.

Any clues what I may be doing wrong? And most importantly: should this also work in KoBo Collect? I’ve checked this: Error message while previewing a form when using select_one_from_file which suggests this feature was not implemented in KoBo Collect (at least back in Feb 2020).

And thanks again for your great support!

It seems that you missed to upload the State_Code.csv. Did you upload all the csv files i.e. State_Code.csv, District_Code.csv and Village_Code.csv?

Yes, all CSV files are uploaded:

PS. Interestingly, I can deploy this form and sync with KoBo Collect and the external list is properly linked with the relevant field/question. So the only problem is with previewing or editing the form in web (Enketo?).

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Yes, editing a survey project (form) with select_one_from_file question type is an issue with KoBoToolbox. It has already been discussed in our previous post and we too have a GitHub issue for the same (which you can follow it through this post):

But also please note that editing submissions with select_one_from_file question type should be supported in KoBoToolbox.

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Thanks, well noted. So, just to confirm:

  • editing a survey project (form) with select_one_from_file or select_one_external question types is not possible in KoBoToolbox (bug reported)
  • such forms can still be uploaded to KoBoToolbox and deployed
  • such forms will work with KoBo Collect (i.e. lists from external files will be displayed and data can be collected)
  • data can be synced back to KoBoToolbox
  • submissions can be edited in KoBoToolbox

Is that correct?

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I’ve found two additional problems with forms that use select_one_from_file or select_one_external field type:

  1. Reports in a Data tab does not show up - This report cannot be loaded. error: <h1>Server Error (500)</h1>
  2. Data cannot be downloaded from Data -> Download section: export to CSV and XLS fails with the “invalid data_type: select_one_from_file…

This is a major bottleneck. Is there any workaround?

In addition to what you have listed out:

  • Data can also be collected with Enketo for select_one_from_file question types along with KoBoCollect android app.
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Yes, it’s an issue identified previously related with the bug report lodged previously. It should get solved once the GitHub issue is addressed.

However, regarding your second issue, you could temporarily solve your issue by downloading your data as XLS (legacy) format as shown in the image below:

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Hi @Kal_Lam, great, thanks for this workaround. It works for both CSV (legacy) and XLS (legacy) downloads. What are the differences between regular and legacy downloads?

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@janekb, kindly please be informed that legacy is a format supported by KoBoCAT while the rest is a format supported by KPI.

Thanks, any specific differences in output CSV files? (columns / values / encoding / …?)