Lately I’ve been toying around with a pretty robust piece of surveying software called LimeSurvey. It’ll be a while before I have any reason to use it extensively, but it is worth mentioning here.
LimeSurvey is self-described as “the leading open source tool for online surveys,” which probably isn’t much of an exaggeration. I stumbled upon it on accident, but it apparently has a team of pretty committed developers who tweak it constantly. Its documentation is extensive and the frontend/backend of the tool supports 25 different languages — a handy feature for many international students, I would think. Some of the features I really enjoyed (lifted from the LimeSurvey website) include:
- Unlimited number of surveys at the same time
- Unlimited number of questions in a survey (only limited by your database)
- Unlimited number of participants to a survey
- 20 different question types with more to come
- Ability to set conditions for questions depending on earlier answers (branching the survey)
- Re-usable editable answer sets
- Anonymous and Not-Anonymous survey
- Open and closed group of participant surveys
- Sending of invitations, reminders and tokens by email
- Option for participants to buffer answers to continue survey at a later time
- Template editor for creating your own page layout
- Enhanced import and export functions to text, CSV and MS Excel format
- Basic statistical and graphical analysis with export facility
LimeSurvey lists these and some other features on their site. Perhaps the best thing about is that it allows you to export to SPSS. There are a few minor qualms with the tool, though: For instance, it doesn’t look like there’s an option to send an email in advance to let people know they will be surveyed. It’d be nice to give people a heads-up of sorts, I think. It also has an option to generate a print survey, but the survey generated looks pretty bad, in my opinion. You’d definitely need to play with the CSS for it.
It installs pretty easily if you know how to set up a MySQL database and click a few buttons. The backend reminds me of Joomla! somewhat, and is pretty easy to get through if you read the documentation.