New FluidSurveys Feature: Per-Collector Variables

Scratch another one off of your online survey wishlist, because FluidSurveys now supports per-collector variables! But before we dive into the details of this new feature, let’s take a quick refresher on what a collector is ( we don’t end up feeling like this guy!)

Collectors.. do they like, collect things, ‘n stuff?

First Things First: What is a Collector?

A collector lets you use a single survey to collect data from more than one group of people with the option of separating the results for analysis.

For example, let’s say you had a survey that asks questions about a person’s diet. You may want to query two different groups of people, perhaps vegetarians and meat-atarians, and then be able to analyze their responses together or separately for statistical analysis.

Without collectors, you would need to program two separate surveys, collect your data independently, and then mash the data together by hand. It would take you a long, long time to do this, and your swear jar would be well-funded by the time you finished.

So What Are Per-Collector Variables?

Per-collector variables let you personalize each collector for your target audience.

To give you another example, let’s say you wanted to survey students of two separate classes to find out what they liked about the course content. Instead of each class being asked a generic question such as “What do you like best about your class?” you could personalize the message by replacing your class with the actual name of their class.

So the students taking Philosophy would receive a survey that asked “What do you like best about your Philosophy class?”, and the students taking English Literature would receive a survey that asked “What do you like best about your English Literature class?”

How Do We Use Them?

We’re going to walk through an example to show you how per-collector variables function.

Step 1

From your main survey selection window, click to choose a survey and then click on the button labeled “Create Collector” which is tucked away in the bottom-right corner:

A window will appear and prompt you to assign a name to the collector you are creating (not shown). To keep things simple, I will call our new collector “New Collector”.

Step 2

After you name your collector, locate it in the list and click on it:

Step 3

On the next screen, look to the top-right corner and find the button next to the label “Collector:”, it will be named after your newly created collector. Click on it and a drop-down menu will appear.

Now click on “Manage Collectors”.

Step 4

On the next window, click on “Edit Collector Schema”:

Step 5

In this window we declare all of the variables that will be used across all of our collectors.

Let’s click on “Add Variable” to create one now:

Fill out the fields as you see in the screenshot:

1. Give your variable a meaningful name that won’t be too difficult to remember.
2. Assign a default value to this variable. This value will be used by your default collector and any additional collectors you create.
3. Don’t forget to click Save!

Step 6

Per-collector variables wouldn’t be too useful if we couldn’t change their value for each collector, right? So let’s change the value of our variable for the new collector we created.

Locate the collector you want to modify in the list, click on the “Actions” button next to it, then click on “Edit”:

Step 7

A new screen appears. Fill out the values as you see in the screenshot:

1. You will see the default value in this text field. Click on it and type something new to overwrite the default value. I’ve decided to type in “Art” for our example.
2. Once again, don’t forget to click Save!


Here’s what we’ve done so far:
We created a second collector for our survey; we called the new collector “New Collector”,
We created a per-collector variable called “coursename”,
We gave this variable a default value of “English”,
We changed the default value of this variable for “New Collector” to “Art”, but
We still need to insert this variable into our survey to make use of it!

Step 8

Let’s go to the survey editor and create a simple yes/no question in our survey. If we right-click on the question, as shown below, a menu appears. Select “Piping Wizard” from this menu:

Step 9

On the left-hand side of the Piping Wizard you see different piping options that can be dragged to the right-hand side of the Wizard. So let’s drag “Collector Variable” from the left over to the text field for “Question Title” on the right.

Step 10

A dialog box will ask you to type in the name of the variable you wish to insert. For our example, we will use the variable we created earlier, “coursename”:

After you click “Ok”, the following will be appended to the end of your text field*:

{{ collector.coursename }}

This is the ‘stuff’ that will be replaced with the value of your variable. In our example, it will be replaced by “English” or “Art”, depending on the collector.

* You may need to move the code that gets inserted (with cut & paste) so that the order makes sense!

Test & Verify

It’s always a good idea to preview your survey to make sure that the variables are being replaced properly. If you run into a challenge, look back over the steps and make sure you didn’t miss something. If you are still not getting the results you expected, let us know and we’ll be glad to help you out!

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If you want to become a FluidSurveys customer, just use the form on the side of your screen to get started for FREE! Our online survey software is loaded with useful features and a powerfully simple user interface.. you’ll love it!

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Sean O'Dacre

Sean is a coordinator for the search marketing team at Fluidware. He enjoys building awareness of Fluidware's solutions through the development of relationships with other web communities. He is also an active member of several search engine optimization user groups and forums.
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