What is submission_time that is seen in the xls dataset?


We are getting a column in addition to our variables labeled as ‘_submission_time’, which contains date and time for each case. Our data is being collected from multiple remote sites using KoboCollect. We are not able to relate it with our work, kindly explain what does it mean and how can it be useful to us?

Thanks in advance

Hi @peeyush,

This is a sample of what you see in your xls dataset that you download from KoBoToolbox:

As seen in the image above, it is a summary of the international standard date and time notation following the International Standard ISO 8601 notation. The front part before the T is the date while the latter part is the time when the filled up form was recorded to the server.

According to the International Standard ISO 8601 notation, if a date and a time are displayed on the same line, then the date should be written in front of the time. If a date and a time value are stored together in a single data field, they should be separated by a latin capital letter T.

Source: https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/iso-time.html

Thank you @Kal_Lam!

It now makes sense, what I want to know more is as we are collecting data through KoboCollect in offline-online mode, what if an enumerator fails to get internet connectivity on the same day (say 25 Sep 2019) of submission and gets it on another day (that is 26 Sep 2019), then which date the submission time column will show?

Best wishes

Hi @peeyush,

I would generally use the date question type to capture the date of the data collection instead of using the submission_time meta data generated by KoBoToolbox. Instead i would simply use the submission_time meta data to keep record of when the data was submitted to the server.


Isn’t it strange that I’m getting submission times that are earlier than both the end and the start times (whether meta or explicit questions)?!


Update: oh, I think submission_time is showing GMT time instead of the local time. that’s why.

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@nartabaza, did you edit your submission?

even if I have, the submission time would be delayed not moved forward.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure now it was a time zone issue. the submission time is coming without a time zone code but in fact it’s in GMT.

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Hello @nartabaza,
yes, submissin_time is with a timezone and related to the server, whereas start and end relate to the local device (except duplicate case option on server edit). IYou can see the full datetime string in the case modal view and in Excel (download) in the edit widget on top when you click on the cell.

When you edit a case, only the end variable will change.

Using the (recommended) search function of the forum, you can find more information, e.g.
Sometimes, there may also be an issue with a wrong date/time/timezone configuration of the local device. See https://forum.getodk.org/t/starttime-greater-than-endtime/18586/10

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Hi Kal_Lam,
In my own case, the time is omitted in the _submission_time column in the xls dataset.
What must I do inorder for both date and time to be displayed?

You might convert the column to text in Excel (data > convert to text).

You can also see the full entry for a cell in the edit widget on top of the Excel table when you select a cell.

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issue resolved already.

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