Skip to main content

Kobo Toolbox

App Overview

Kobo Toolbox is a suite of open source tools for field data collection for use in challenging environments. If you've worked on ODK or ONA, the underlying tech is very similar. They offer free accounts and hosting for humanitarian projects, and the app provides a nice interface for managing (and cleaning!) form submissions.

note

Tool docs are (1) to ensure all OpenFn can more quickly and easily integrate with common tools, and (2) to educate any OpenFn user/the wider sector.

Data Model

Kobo data is collected using projects or forms which are the actual surveys/ questions being adminsitered. Form responses are collected as individual form submissions (1 row for every form submitted is logged in the Kobo web app, viewable via the Data menu option).

Integration Use Cases

Example user stories:

  • As a M&E manager, I want to monitor Kobo Toolbox survey responses in real-time in a central database, so that I can better understand data collection activities and program performance across my partner sites.

APIs & Integration Options

Webhook: Forward forms in real-time from Kobo using REST service

Webhook or “REST Service” that will forward data to OpenFn (or any designated endpoint URL). Note: Kobo not forward any form submissions cleaned via the Kobo web app. Only form submissions submitted via mobile are forwarded via the webhook.

To set this up, follow the Kobo REST service guide

See below for OpenFn-specific configuration instructions:

  1. To push data from Kobo, users must click the projects icon on their left-side nav bar. It's in the shape of a globe.
  2. Once selecting a project, the Project Settings link will appear at the top left side of the screen. Click it to open the Project Settings page.
  3. In the bottom left pane of the project settings page, users must paste their inbox URL from OpenFn into the Rest Services Service URL input area and select JSON Post as the Service Name.
  4. It's helpful to add a wrapper to your form data if you will be publishing multiple forms to OpenFn. You could use {"form":"my_form", "body": %SUBMISSION%}.
  5. Click Add Service to start forwarding new Kobo submissions to OpenFn.org.

To test to integration with OpenFn, add a submission manually using the enter data in browser button. Head back to your history page at OpenFn to view the newly submitted data and write a new filter and job to map your Kobo data to any destination system on OpenFn.

Here's a sample post from Kobo REST service. Note that questions inside groups are prefixed with groupname/ rather than sitting inside a group object like ODK:

{
"meta/instanceID": "uuid:19d72997-8316-4e02-8016-4a8ddf6a2aa4",
"group1/name": "twenty",
"group1/age": "19",
"formhub/uuid": "6f5773a110b046cb97e3d71f6c04e7a6",
"first_q": "hello",
"final_q": "why not?",
"_xform_id_string": "groups",
"_uuid": "19d72997-8316-4e02-8016-4a8ddf6a2aa4",
"_userform_id": "taylordowns2000_groups",
"_tags": [],
"_submitted_by": null,
"_submission_time": "2016-04-22T06:38:20",
"_status": "submitted_via_web",
"_notes": [],
"_id": 889409,
"_geolocation": [null, null],
"_bamboo_dataset_id": "",
"_attachments": []
}

Web APIs

Kobo APIs support both data and metadata integration. Check out:

Using OpenFn to access the Kobo Web API

Timer OpenFn jobs that run on cron schedule can be configured to “GET” data from Kobo API. If you are cleaning data in Kobo, we recommend this option as it will fetch cleaned submissions as well.

In order to fetch data from a form, use the Kobo API endpoint of the form. The base URL is that of your Kobo server, in this example it's https://kf.kobotoolbox.org: https://kf.kobotoolbox.org/api/v2/assets/${survey.id}/data/?format=json.

With this OpenFn job snippet we fetch submission data from a list of surveys, indicated by their IDs.

alterState(state => {
console.log('Current cursor value:', state.lastEnd);
// Set a manual cursor if you'd like to only fetch data after this date.
const manualCursor = '2020-11-20T14:32:43.325+01:00';
state.data = {
surveys: [
//** Specify new forms to fetch here **//
{
id: 'aVdh90L9979L945lb02',
name: 'Initial Data Collection',
},
{
id: 'bkgIF96fK7v9n7Hfj2',
name: 'Follow-up',
},
].map(survey => ({
formId: survey.id,
name: survey.name,
url: `https://kf.kobotoolbox.org/api/v2/assets/${survey.id}/data/?format=json`,
query: `&query={"end":{"$gte":"${state.lastEnd || manualCursor}"}}`,
})),
};
return state;
});

each(dataPath('surveys[*]'), state => {
const { url, query, formId, name } = state.data;
return get(`${url}${query}`, {}, state => {
state.data.submissions = state.data.results.map((submission, i) => {
return {
i,
// Here we append the names defined above to the Kobo form submission data
formName: name,
};
});
});
});

Check out some of our training slides for an overview of Kobo integration options.

App Setup & Integration Tips

App installation and configuration

The Kobo documentation offers detailed guidance on setting up forms and managing data collection.

You can find some of our training materials on Kobo form management here.

Hidden Values & Tagging Submissions

A small useful trick we learned is if you want to add a hidden value to your forms to "inject" data or tag your form (for example a tag to mark a form as "test"), you can add it to the form as a calculated field.

Unique Identifiers

You can use the following Kobo-generated unique identifiers for forms and submissions:

  1. "formId": "adiNTJXFtpKEDGGZFMUtgQ": This is a unique form instance ID, it will be different for every copy/clone of the same form.
  2. "_id": 85252496: This is the form submission, it's unique within the same Kobo server
  3. "uuid" : bfcda81622a94de3a85f69aed29790af: This changes every time a submission is cleaned; if you'd still like to use it as unique ID, you can create a calculate question in your form with the calculation once(uuid()). This will prevent the uuid from updating with each submission edit.

To uniquely identify the questions, you can use the Data Column Name under question options. This is unique within a form and it's different from what is displayed in the survey as the question itself. You can find more info on it in the Kobo docs.

Similarly, if you have multiple choice question (called Select Many question type in Kobo),you can specify the underlying identifier (called XML value) for each option. This is the value that you'll see when you export the collected data.

Exporting form metadata and submission data

You can manually download your form metadata, such as question names and labels, question types, in XLS or XML format from the project's Form section on the web interface, see more detail here.

To export submission data in XLS or CSV format, follow these steps.

OpenFn Adaptor

Check out OpenFn/language-kobotoolbox for some helper functions for extracting or "getting" data in bulk from Kobo Toolbox.

If language-kobotoolbox does not provide functions to support your integration requirements, language-http may also be implemented to send GET/POST/PUT requests to the Kobo APIs.

Integration Examples

See the ConSoSci Github repo for several example Kobo-to-database jobs: https://github.com/OpenFn/consosci