Developers - EpiCollect+ Introduction
EpiCollect+ (plus) provides a complete solution for complex mobile data gathering projects and consists of two parts:
A mobile app and a web server app
1) Mobile app - The EpiCollect+ mobile app allows you to load a single or multiple projects and provides the interface for users to gather the data you specify. All data can be subsequently synched with a central server and, furthermore, data can be retrieved onto the mobile devices from the central server and viewed as tables or maps.
2) Web Server app - We provide hosting for project data, however we also provide server software and instructions for setting up a database(s) and web application for you to house and view the data collected by any number of mobile devices (you can also enter data directly via the web).
An overview of Epicollect+: the mobile app can be loaded on multiple mobile devices and provides a front end for data gathering. The server app, installed on a web server with database, provides a central location for storage of data submitted by the mobile device(s) and also provides a web app for viewing the data gathered (tables/maps) and an interface for web based data entry. Data can also be requested from the web app and displayed on a mobile device.
Your data gathering project
A data gathering project can be thought of as consisting of one or more forms (i.e. questionnaires) which you define.
A form can consist of one or more text fields ( i.e. questions - plain text, dropdown lists, checkboxes etc) and you can also define one or more media fields (GPS, photos, videos, audio or barcode scans) to be attached to a form. You can also define validation, form logic (skip questions) and linking of forms (in a hierarchy or branching) within a project.
A user can complete multiple instances of a form or set of linked forms (entries) on a mobile device prior to synchronisation (sending a copy of data) to a central server.
Note: Both EpiCollect and EpiCollect+ use data networks (2G/3G/4G or wireless) for data exchange. However, a data connection IS NOT required for data gathering and is only needed when loading a project onto a mobile device and for synchronising data. This allows data gathering to proceded in areas without data coverage (ie remote areas).
Describing a project - EpiCollect Markup Language (ecML)
We use a simple text-based format for project description using a vocabulary of XML which we term EpiCollect Markup Language (ecML).
ecML represents a simple standard and presents opportunities to integrate data easily from the EpiCollect+ app into existing database systems, and not just our server software.
All aspects of a project can be defined with ecML (location of server / forms and form fields and logic etc) and once a project is described, the file sits on a web server accessible via a URL.
The ecML file is then used in a number of ways:
1) Loaded into the mobile app (when a project is requested) to define what is presented to a user.
2) Defines the server database and web application interface viewing / adding / amending data.
Should the nature of your project change, (for example the addition or removal of wuestions) the ecML project description can be amended on the server and re-loaded onto the device(s), thus updating the data gathered project as required.