Thursday, 2 May 2013
At the moment, we're researching some of the best tools for data collection, for an online logbook and survey or assessment forms. Today is the first day we try out Digital Fields Solutions' 'Formworks' on a trial basis.
The program form inputting form data is totally user friendly in theory, but we do need to test it out on a willing case-study client. In our line of work, we carry out a lot of risk assessments (the health and safety kind, included) and have a turn-around wait we would like to eliminate completely.
We've tried a couple of data collection tools before, but as it turns out, the age old saying is kinda true - you get what you pay for in most cases.
Anyway. The platform is Formworks, the device is the ipad. The forms, and data we collect, can be manipulated, by programming code, should we so wish. Should we not, the basic form builder is still comprehensive looking.
There seem to be a few downsides with Formworks, with optional fixes ahead. For instance, to digitally produce sketches of schematic layouts (or in lamens terms 'to draw stuff'), is rather limited. There are no choices of colours to swap from, and the detail is limited to something reminiscent of Microsoft paint. So here in lies the problem. It would be fantastic to digitise everything during the assessments, including schematic drawings. The quick fix for this is to just use a paint/drawing program on the ipad, save it as a JPG and import the image file into the Formworks program. The optional fix. (The sketch capability is fantastic for a signature though, and has a time-stamp built in to this particular field already, but it would be great to have some extra computer power there.)
Any type of work-around-the-program solution could cause quite a damming effect on the usability of the finished forms staff. We'll have to see how easy it is once we get the form built and tested.
That said, it has some great features too - the speed at which you can build an entire assessment form, and publish it, ready for use is staggering. It can take minutes if needs be. The exporting of the data is straight forward and available in all the formats you would expect - PDF, XML etc... Not to mention, it looks like the creators have made all sorts of 'how to' web pages and files for every step.
Right. Watch this space, we'll keep you updated on how we get on. Our trial is for two weeks, so we'll have built a great opinion and case-study for this package - let's see how we go!