Online validator is clean but error message “Expecting value: line 2 column 1 (char 1)" seen when uploading an xlsform in the server


If we have the same error message when trying to deploy but that the ODK validate doesn’t show any error, should we assume that its a temporary bug from Kobo and just try later? My form doesn’t seem to have any issue but can’t deploy it.
1. Project and cameras.xlsx (168.9 KB)
Thank you!

@dianedetoeuf, I found out some issues that was affecting your xlsform. I am listing it out here so that it would be a reference for our community having similar issues in the future:

  • name under the choices sheet should not have a space (B14, B15) in it:
    Image 1

  • name under the choices sheet does not support - (B267, B268) in it:
    Image 2

  • Good to have a short name under the choices sheet:
    Image 3

  • Space not allowed in form _title under the settings sheet, it should be form_title:
    Image 4

  • relevant expression under the wrong column i.e. relevant expression written under the appearance column:

  • Finally, i changed your long name from the survey sheet to a short name.

Reference xlsform:

1. Project and cameras.xlsx (161.8 KB)


We encountered several problems like this in the community, Sometimes not easy to localise in the form.
Therefore, it would be great if:

  • the validator would also check naming rules
  • KoBo will not create unique names from given name duplicates, but give an error (like the Online Validator).


Thank you so much Kal for spotting all these!! Really appreciate you spent time looking through this. Will know I have to do a better review of my form next time I encounter the same type of error.


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Hi again,

I’ve tried with your form (which works) but unfortunately, we can’t keep the Q1, Q2, etc names as we’ve set up a system that uses variable names to automatically insert Kobo data to our online database, and we really need relevant names for database management. I’ve tried shortening them as much as I could, and still not possible to deploy the form. Which is strange because I know I’ve used longer names before on other forms and did not have this issue. Any recommendation? Updated form attached.

1. Project and cameras new.xlsx (160.3 KB)

@dianedetoeuf, I would advise going with a shorter name as discussed previously.

OK found the error after renaming one by one each question: the name “model” doesn’t seem to be accepted by Kobo here, however “camera_model” or “Model_of_the_camera” work fine!


Great! Thank you for sharing your solution with the entire community. This should help our community solve similar issues if faced in the future.

Hello @Kal_Lam ,
If “model” is a reserved system name, it would be great to integrate this information in the KoBo documentation (also other reserved words?) and let the Online validator provide an error message, please.
Kind regards

Will check this out at my end and see how it behaves @wroos.

Dear @Kal_Lam,
Here it is: The “model” name problem, as reduced example.
Project and cameras 02 Model.xlsx (113.1 KB).

“model” is for example used here: and

(Some other risky candidates like “type” or “image” work as names at least at the given places. Even “settings” or “choices”, “instance” or “body” as names in survey sheet worked for deployment.)
Kind regards

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Thank you @wroos, @dianedetoeuf. I too confirm that the name model affects the deployment of the xlsform. Will share this issue with our team and update if there is anything further.

For me it was deployment in KoBo only. Uploading and preview (and Online validator) went well.

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Yes, it’s for deployment!

@dianedetoeuf, @wroos we have a bug issue for this in GitHub: