Replacing XLS Form causes destruction of Matrix Questions


I have a longish-survey with several matrix-style questions. When I download the XLS form and re-upload it (even without making changes), the matrix questions are completely destroyed with weird formatting and the questions not appearing correctly in the web interface. Can you look this over and let me know what is happening and how I can fix this form?

Welcome to the community, @jhastings! Would you mind sharing with us your xlsform so that we could test the same at our end? An additional question, did you design your survey project in an xlsform or did you directly design it in the form builder UI (at the start)?

Hello, thanks for your reply. I designed it in the UI and then exported it to XLS. Here is the xlsform. Ongoing Survey Edited.xlsx (43.1 KB)

Will give a try and get back to you soon.

Thank you, looking forward to hearing back!

Hi @jhastings
Can you send your username and a link to your project through a private message so that we look at the behavior directly? Copy @Kal_Lam and I

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Note that upon further review, the problem is not that the matrix is completely destroyed. It still appears fine when I use form preview. The issue is that it is appearing very strangely in the form UI and making it very difficult to edit/work with the form any further after reuploading the XLSform…

@jhastings, could you kindly share with us a screenshot of what it looks like at your end? We could then have a closer look to see if the same is seen at our end.

Hello, you can see here the question “Impact of COVID 19 - No differentiation” used to be a matrix, now it is a bunch of questions of a different type and the labels seem to be the names now??

How do you see when trying to view it with Enketo? Could you also share with us the screenshot of the same?

I’m sorry, I just started using Kobo Toolbox, how do I view it with Enketo? Do I have to download something?

Note that the matrices appeared fine on the UI before I downloaded the XLS form and reuploaded it.

This support article Collecting Data through Web Forms should help you view your survey form in Enketo. It would also be helpful if you could preview your survey form and see if everything is OK.

Also sharing with you this support article Question Matrix Response Type. It should be helpful for you.

Here is it in Enketo - It appears fine.

I guess issue is that it is messed up in the UI when I reupload and thus makes it very hard/not understandable to edit anymore.

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@jhastings, Matrix Questions is actually formed from a grouping question; hence you see the same at your end. Looking at your xlsform shows that the groups are OK.

Ok, but how do I make it so in the UI - after I download and reupload an XLS form - it appears as it did in the first place when it was created? I.e. with rows and columns appearing on the UI and not like in the 2nd screenshot I posted.

Appearing as it does with the screenshot I posted 2 hours ago makes it impossible to edit the questions or understand what to change to get a particular effect.

All I would like to do is to enable the UI to show the physical matrix when the XLSform is reuploaded.

Could you do this for a dummy project to see how the matrix question changes in the form builder UI with the following:

  • As soon as you design a matrix question
  • You download your survey project and then upload the same back to your project to replace the existing survey project.
  • Then view it back again.

Okay, I did that. Same issue is appearing. I only downloaded the XLSform and then selected “Replace Form” and “Upload an XLS Form.” See below for a compiled set of screenshots.

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@jhastings, kindly please be informed that this is normal and it’s the way how the Form Builder UI behaves. You need not worry.

Just so I understand you correctly - you are saying that the way the form builder UI behaves is that you can design the matrix in a well-formatted way, so you can understand and edit the matrix question easily. But once you replace your form it transforms it into not-understandable group of questions with formatting gibberish including some of the underlying language from the XLS forms (, **, etc)?

Is there any way to override this setting? Can we adjust this? I can’t understand why this would be user-friendly for someone designing a survey in the UI.