Data Collector

This is a data collection utility which provides a way to gather web survey responses into a database for later download as a tab-delimited file. This is designed as a self-service application allowing anyone to register a form and begin collecting data with a few minor form changes. The data collected from your form is password protected and you can download it, purge the database, or unregister your form and delete the data any time you wish.

Program Update

In order to make it easier to properly setup your forms to work with the data collector, we've added a program to verify your form configuration. The procedure for using this program is described under Testing in the instructions that follow on this page.

Known Issues

Data Collection System Tutorial

  1. Enter data using the Test Form
  2. Download the tutorial data. Use '1' for the formid and 'abc' for the password. When your browser prompts you, choose to save the file to your computer.
  3. Purge the collected data when you are done.

The tutorial data is in this format:

Field 1: Name, text, 30 characters
Field 2: Address1, text, 30 characters
Field 3: Address2, text, 30 characters
Field 4: Options, checkbox (multi-valued field)
Field 5: Description, textarea

Using the Data Collection System

  1. Register your web form
  2. When you register your form, The system will generate a form ID and password which will be sent to you in an email message. The message will also describe the changes that you will need to make to your form for it to work with the data collector.

  3. Test your form
  4. There are two steps to testing your form:

    1. Verify the form configuration
    2. To verify that you've properly configured your form, change the form action line to point the form at "http://webtools.swarthmore.edu/cgi-bin/Verify". The Verify program will check that your form is properly configured to work with the data collector.

    3. Test data collection
    4. Point your form back at the Collect program and then run through several iterations of data collection with your form to verify that the data is being collected as you expect. Be sure to test submitting a blank form and leaving random fields blank.

      Download the data and check that the results meet your requirements. After you complete your test, purge the test data.

    5. Collect Data
    6. Begin the data collection process. There is no practical limit to how much data you can collect or for how long.

  5. Retrieve Data

    Retrieve the collected data whenever you choose - even in the middle of the data collection period (though take note that you can only retrieve all of the data for the form, not new submissions since the last download). The download format, a tab-delimited file, is easily imported into the data analysis tool of your choice.

  6. Purge Collected Data
  7. Use this option if you wish to clear test data or to begin a new data collection cycle.

  8. Unregister Your Form and Delete the Collected Data
  9. When you are finished using the system, please delete your form and the associated data from the system. You will not be prompted to download your data when you choose this option, so, if you do wish to retain a copy of your data, download the data before purging it from the system.


For further information, contact , ITS Database Systems Manager