Not all generic form software support table grids inside of field forms
Believe it or not, XForms is one of the very few generic form software tools in the market today that lets you build out customizable table grids that your field folks can fill out in the field on tablets, phones, and laptops. So when shopping for a customizable software tool for your field forms, if your existing paper forms have a lot of tables in them, be sure to check if that software tool is capable of producing tables.
Why is this important? Check out the illustration below comparing a tool that has a table feature against one that doesn’t.
Step 1 – Build your form and add your table to it
In the XForms Designer, build your form, and add a table to it by clicking on the “+ Add Field” button and selecting “Table”.
You can customize tables fairly easily in the XForms Designer.
The first step is to add a column by clicking on the “+ Add Column button. Pick the field type from the list (e.g., checkbox, text, number, multichoice, etc). Each field type will have some unique options available to it.
Next determine if the field user should be able to add rows or not. That’s what the “Can Add Rows” on/off switch is for.
You can also add rows as needed. These are usually added whenever you have specific text that needs to be displayed on rows when a form pre-loads.
You can also add a footer, which is generally used if you need to count the number of rows, add the numbers in a column, determine the average of a numerical column, etc. If you need this, flip the “Show Footer” switch to on.
Step 2 – Create your Google Sheet
Most folks probably already have a target sheet in Google Sheets ready to go. If not, just create it. Make sure you match up the columns in your GSheet to the columns in yoour XForms table. They should match up from left to right.
Step 3 – Create an integration between XForms and Google Sheets using a tool like Zapier, Integrately, Make.com, etc
This part is a bit more challenging, but we are hard at work building out a Make.com integrator applet to make it easy. For now, you can outsource this to a dev shop, use your own IT folks, or let us do it for you. It’s basically a matter of connecting the dots between the XForms open APIs and Google Sheet’s APIs.
The benefits of these kinds of integrations
XForms Mobile is a super easy to use mobile app that can run on most any sort of device, including iOS and Android phones. It even runs on shitty Kindle Fire tablets (kind of sluggish, but those devices are practically disposable). It also runs in offline mode. So using XForms Mobile for the data capture side of things in the field, in a wide variety of scenarios, is a natural fit.
Google Sheets is a very common tool that most anyone understands how to use. It is often used a fnal repository for data, with sharing capabilities built-in.
An integration between the two gets you a nice field capture tool that automatically inserts captured table data right into Google Sheets, for further analysis, processing, and sharing.
And you can do this with any other spreadsheet-like tool, including AirTable, Smartsheet, and even Excel 365 (the online version).
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