1. Can you describe to me in every day language what this will do?
2. Who will use it?
3. What is different about it from other tools like it?
4. Who are its competitors?
5. Why would someone choose it over any of the competitors?
Can you describe to me in every day language what this will do?
Once the Survey Project webapplication is installed - it's a website you need to have installed on the web with a hosting provider or on a company's internal intranet webserver - it can be used by anyone who is properly authorised to create and design surveys, webforms or data entry forms online.
No need to do an installation on your own pc. It's all done on the web (internet or intranet) and all you need is an internetconnection and a browser – access 24/7, worldwide.
Besides creating surveys and (data entry or web) forms with the form builder and a CSS editor - to change the look and feel of the survey - you can start "online surveying campaigns".
I.e with the tool you send invitation mails to a list or lists of emailadresses. People will receive the message you create with the tool including a link or secure code to a particular survey you created and that can be accessed on the web (again through the tool/ website). Before you send the survey there is a Preview option. Mailing errors will be logged to check.
The results of the survey campaign can be tracked in different ways:
- see the list of invited people
- see the list of people who answered the survey
- basic statistics per survey are available (e.g nr of reponses per day, last entry etc.)
Acces to surveys by survey takers and voters is possible in different ways depending on the type of security you choose. SP has 8 different acces and security options, ranging from password, token, ip-address, emailinvitation, entry number limitation etc. Security tokens and ip address ranges can be created and set at will.
Surveys can be setup in Multilanguage mode. This means the surveys questions and answers can be created in different languages. Depending on the ML mode (user list selection, cookie, browser etc) on access the survey will be presented to the voter in any particular language chosen and created.
The SP tool itself is also fully "localised": meant for multilanguage use. If the proper language files are created (very easy to make and edit and several languages are there already) it's possible to show all screens and texts in Dutch, French, German, Spanish or any other language needed.
Results & Reporting
Next you will have several (graphical) reporting options inside the tool and you have access to the individual results (read and edit options). There is an option to export the survey results (csv or text file) so you can work on it in other analysis tools. Also the other way around, previously export results can be imported back in for further use. There's a file manager to handle files that were uploaded by survey takers through a webform or survey.
Once created questions and answers can be saved to so called Libraries where you can easily group them for reuse in any new survey.
Roles & User management
Part of the SP tool is a roles and usermanager through which you manage access to the survey tool in general, to individual surveys and / or the different features of the tool per user and/ or per role (= group of users with certain rights).
In general two types of user groups can be distinguished:
- Create and administer surveys, webforms, data entry forms
- Create and administer survey Campaigns
- Create and administer Results /Reports
- take surveys
- fill out forms
- data entry
By making use of roles and different rights custom made access to different features can be set.
Throughout the tool basic help options are in place or additional help and information is available through the projects websites (e.g. Youtube, Comunity site, Codeplex developers site).
Who will use it?
Anyone wanting to collect/ gather or capture information through the web might be interested. Both companies small and large and individuals. For both (scientific) research, non-profit and commercial use.
Simple and complex webforms that are easily integrated with existing websites can be used for submitting information concerning subscriptions, conventions, meetings etc.
Webforms and surveys can easily be transformed into data entry forms (including repetitious data entry options) that may be used in a call center environment or any service oriented business place.
Companies may use it both internally (e.g. Service Quality surveys, Employees Satisfaction surveys and benchmarks) as well as in the outside world (clients, customers, business to business).
Areas of use:
- PR/ Communication
- Customer research
- Scientifici research
- Registration and administration
- etc. etc. etc.
What is different about it from other tools like it?
There are many websites offering similar features (e.g. SurveyMonkey.com, Zoomerang.com etc.) except that their services are only free up to a certain limit or extent. After that you have to start paying. Also the free features are limited most of the time (nr of surveys/ users/ amount of data/ traffic etc.)
Also these sites are owned by commercial companies that do not share or sell any of their tooling or surveying software.
The SP tool and software is completely free, open source (original sourcecode freely available), fully accessible and has no limitations on its use or features.
There are other open source survey tools (not many though). The main "contender" being LimeSurvey (see below) but the Survey Project is the main option for people/ companies making use of the Windows platform and Microsoft technology.
The history of the Survey Project tool goes back all the way to 2005 when the project initially started (called Nsurvey) and became quite popular with a growing community to put in a lot of effort. Its founder then went commercial when the tool had really matured. He's still active on the market (see nsurvey.org or feedbackserver.com). The new project took of (in 2009) where the former community left it and started modernising the tool and bringing it up to date (latest technology is applied now).
Who are its competitors?
The main "contender" is LimeSurvey which has a long tradition and stable community supporting it. LimeSurvey (formerly know as PHPSurveyor) originates from a completely different technological background.
Featurewise LimeSurvey and Survey Project may not be that different. Only SP is fully supported on the Windows and Microsoft platform: Windows operating system, IIS webserver, Mssqlserver database, C#.NET programming language.
The original PHPSurveyor tool was rooted in the open source LAMP tradition: Linux operating system, Appache webserver, MySql database, PHP programming language.
Technology wise LimeSurvey and SP are alternatives rather then competitors nowadays. Otherwise there are no serious open source .NET contenders to SP.
Because of the technology used there is a solid backup of a large world wide group of C# .NET programmers combined with a global multinational like Microsoft taking care of constant development and improvement of the techniques and tooling used and promoting open source at the same time.
Tools for maintenance and development used on the SP are all free and freely available.
Why would someone choose it over any of the competitors?
It's free and it's open source.
It's architecture and setup is flexible (easy to expand and customize, add new question types etc.)
It's making use of the latest web technologies.
Feature rich (all basic necessities to start you own surveys, campaigns and reporting)
Easy to use yet many option for different survey and questioning/ answering scenarios
A growing community to support the tool and the project.