Okay, everyone, this is it; the moment we’ve been waiting for from the beginning. We’ve created a form. We’ve customized each part of it, tested the whole thing, tailored the messaging for our respondents, and distributed it. People everywhere have filled it out and submitted responses—from their iPads and Android phones to desktop computers and laptops. But why did we create the form in the first place? The obvious answer: to get answers. The submissions come flying in from these from submissions and wind up in the FormsCentral “View Responses” tab, neatly organized in a data table. Let’s take a look at our data and muck around with it; there’s plenty to do with our responses, and we’ll try a few of those things in this post.
First, let’s get acquainted with the response table and it’s interface. Just like when you’re creating your form, you can format the contents of this table to look however you want—change the font, its size and color, the position of the text in its cell, or even the color of the grid.
If you click on the “Table” button in the menu bar, your options change to show you what you can do to restrict or manipulate the table’s content:
These manipulations can go so far as to allow you to actually change the content of your form: for example, our form included a single-choice question (Yes or No); in the Table options, we can “Edit choices” to include other possible responses, or to add an option for our respondents to select “Other”. This can be especially helpful if you need to edit the form halfway through the collection process; your response table can help you make quick work of it.
The last option in the menu bar is the Views menu. Within this menu, you have the option to create a private view from which to work with the data. This, in a sense, checks out the data from the collaborative table; if you’re working with a group of people on the same data, you might not want to use the same filters as one of your team members; if that’s the case, you can create a private view and filter or reorganize the data how it makes sense to you. Then, when you turn off the private view, any changes or additions you’ve made to the data will be reintegrated into the full view, visible to all your collaborators. (For more detailed coverage of private views, check out this post: Private Views and Filtering in Tables)
Once you’re ready to climb in and start playing with data, you can take a closer look at a few other features. We just mentioned filters a moment ago; these will allow you to pare down a table full of responses to show only those which conform to a particular condition. For example, if I wanted to see only those who answered “No” to my question “Was this blog post helpful?”, I could create a filter for that and watch the table repopulate with the relevant answers. It’s impossible to describe just how helpful this can be when you’re dealing with thousands of rows of data in many columns; whether you want only to look at those who answered a specific question with a specific answer, or if you’re just looking to simplify your view, adding a filter is really the best way to pare down your data into specific sets.
The FormsCentral response table also supports a good number of formulas, so the table will do some work for you if you want to, say, count the number of cells that contain a certain value or automatically add up the numbers in a column. In the screenshot below, we’re looking at a formula for counting the number of “No” responses to the question “Was this blog post helpful?”. This won’t show me which four cells they’re in—I’d need to create a filter for that—but it’s a quick way to get a piece of information for analytical purposes.
What if you don’t want to look at the data as a whole, but rather just get condensed information about a single respondent? If that’s the case, use the “Show details” feature in the “Views” menu; a panel will open to the right of the table showing the selected row in a manageable format, easy to examine on its own.
If you find that you’d like to view the data in some other format, you can always go up into the File menu and choose “Export responses…”; this will give you the option to export the data to PDF, XLS, or CSV. Once you’ve done so, you can also print the responses from the relevant application (it’s not yet possible to print the data directly from FormsCentral). If you’ve applied a filter to your data, you also have the option to export only the data that’s currently visible; this can be a great tool when you have multiple people who have to work differently with different subsets of your data.
Up to this point, we’ve been creating and using the form file and responses (more or less) all on our own; but what if you work with a whole team of people who have things to say about this form and want to look at the data? Well, what would you expect from the people who brought you Acrobat.com—just share the form file! Down in the lower left corner of the window (exactly where it’s located in Acrobat.com) is the Share button; using this dialog, you can share the file with one or many people, either individually or by adding the form to one of your Workspaces on Acrobat.com (yes, you can see your forms in your organizer there, too). Your collaborators will be able to interact with the form and its responses according to the level at which you share the document with them (Co-Author, Contributor, or Reader).
Thus concludes our three-part journey through the FormsCentral process, from inception to analysis. Remember, even though we’ve covered plenty of material here on the blog, there are always more nuances to discover for yourself; make sure to head over to http://formscentral.acrobat.com to create a form and test data on your own. If you have any questions about the service or about what you’ve read here—if you need any clarification or embellishments—don’t hesitate to write to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just comment below. As always, we love to hear from you.