Surveys On Rails
Surveyor is a rails (gem) plugin, that brings surveys to your rails app. Before Rails 2.3, it was implemented as a Rails Engine. Surveys are written in a DSL (Domain Specific Language), with examples available in the "kitchen sink" survey.
Why you might want to use Surveyor
If you have to have a part of your Rails app that asks users questions as part of a survey, quiz, or questionnaire then you should consider using Surveyor. This plugin was designed out of the need to deliver clinical research surveys to large populations of people but it can be used for any type of survey. It has an easy to use DSL to define the questions, response dependencies (if user answers 'A' to question 1 then show question 1a, etc...), and structure (different sections of longer questionnaires).
To build your questionnaire you define it using a custom DSL. Having a DSL instead of a GUI makes it significantly easier to import long surveys (no more endless clicking and typing into tiny text boxes). It also means that you can let your customer write out the survey, edit, re-edit, tweak, throw out and start over, any number of surveys without having to change a single line of code in your app.
Our DSL supports a wide range of question types (too many to list here) and varying dependency logic. Here are the first few questions of the "kitchen_sink" survey which should give you and idea of how the DSL works. The full example with all the types of questions is in the plugin and available if you run the installation instructions below.
survey "“Kitchen Sink” survey" do section "Basic questions" do # A label is a question that accepts no answers label "These questions are examples of the basic supported input types" # A basic question with radio buttons question_1 "What is your favorite color?", :pick => :one answer "red" answer "blue" answer "green" answer "yellow" answer :other # A basic question with checkboxes # "question" and "answer" may be abbreviated as "q" and "a" q_2 "Choose the colors you don't like", :pick => :any a_1 "red" a_2 "blue" a_3 "green" a_4 "yellow" a :omit # A dependent question, with conditions and rule to logically join them # the question's reference identifier is "2a", and the answer's reference_identifier is "1" # question reference identifiers used in conditions need to be unique on a survey for the lookups to work q_2a "Please explain why you don't like this color?" a_1 "explanation", :text dependency :rule => "A or B or C or D" condition_A :q_2, "==", :a_1 condition_B :q_2, "==", :a_2 condition_C :q_2, "==", :a_3 condition_D :q_2, "==", :a_4 # ... other question, sections and such. See kitchen_sink_survey.rb for more. end end
The survey above shows a couple simple question types. The first one is a "pick one" type with the "other" custom entry. The second question is a "pick any" type with the option to "omit". It also has a dependency where you can ask a follow up question based on how the user answered the previous question. Notice the way the dependency is defined as a string. This implementation supports any number of complex dependency rules so not just "A or B or C or D" but "A and (B or C) and D" or "!A or ((B and !C) or D)". The conditions are the letters used they are evaluated separately using the operators defined for "==","<>", ">=","<", (the usual stuff) the plugged in to the dependency rule and evaluated. See the example survey for more details.
As a plugin:
gem install haml gem install fastercsv script/plugin install git://github.com/breakpointer/surveyor.git -r 'tag v0.13.0'
Or as a gem:
# in environment.rb config.gem "surveyor", :version => '~> 0.13.0', :source => 'http://gemcutter.org' rake gems:install
Or as a gem (with bundler):
# in environment.rb gem "surveyor", '~> 0.13.0' bundle install
Generate assets, run migrations:
script/generate surveyor rake db:migrate
Try out the "kitchen sink" survey:
rake surveyor FILE=surveys/kitchen_sink_survey.rb
The rake surveyor task overwrites previous surveys by default, but can append instead:
rake surveyor FILE=surveys/kitchen_sink_survey.rb APPEND=true
The rake tasks above generate surveys in our custom survey DSL (which is a great format for end users and stakeholders to use). After you have run them start up your app and go to:
Try taking the survey and compare it to the contents of the DSL file kitchen_sink_survey.rb. See how each type of DSL question maps to the resulting rendered view of the question.
Surveyor's controller, models, and views may be customized via classes in your app/models, app/helpers and app/controllers directories. To generate a sample custom controller and layout, run:
script/rails generate surveyor:custom
and check out surveys/README_FOR_CUSTOM_SURVEYOR.md
Surveyor depends on Ruby (1.8.7 - 1.9.1), Rails 2.3 and the SASS style sheet language, part of HAML (http://haml.hamptoncatlin.com/download). It also depends on fastercsv for csv exports. For running the test suite you will need rspec and have the rspec plugin installed in your application.
Test Suite and Development
To work on the plugin code (for enhancements, and bug fixes, etc...) fork this github project. Then clone the project under the vendor/plugins directory in a Rails app used only for development:
- fix parser error in ruby 1.9, where instance_variables are symbols. closes #61
- added fastercsv as dependency. closes #59
- typo fix and test
- fixed broken spec for survey urls, made pending surveyor_controller specs pass
- Added explicit dependencycondition and validationcondition to DSL
- have authentication work with authlogic
- added "correct_answer" to parser, so you can specify one correct answer per question
- basic csv export. closes #21
- add unique indicies. closes #45
- add one_integer renderer. closes #51
- constrain surveys to have unique access_codes. closes #45. closes #42
- covering the extremely unlikely case that response_sets may have a non-unique access_code. closes #46. thanks jakewendt.
- current user id not needed in the view, set in SurveyorController. closes #48. thanks jakewendt
- surveyor config['extend'] is now an array. custom modules (e.g. SurveyExtensions are now included from within surveyor models, allowing the customizations to work on every request in development. closes #39. thanks to mgurley and jakewendt for the suggestions.
- remove comment from surveyor_includes
- css tweak
- automatically add backslashes and eliminate multiple backslashes in relative root for routes
- readme spelling and line breaks
- fixing a failing spec with factory instead of mock parent model
- upgrading cucumber to 0.6
- adding rails init.rb to make gem loading work. thanks mike gurley. closes #52.
- Repeater changed to only have +1, not +3 as previous
- added locking and transaction to surveyor update action. Prevents bug that caused duplicated answers
- some light re-factoring and code readability changes
- some code formatting changes
- added require statement to specs so the factory_girl test dependency was more clear
- spiced up the readme... may have some typos
- readme update
- styles, adding labels for dates, correcting labels for radio buttons
- count label and image questions complete when mandatory. closes #38
- validate by other responses. closes #35
- @current_user.id if @current_user isn't nil. Closes #37
- fixing typos
- remove surveyor controller from load_once_paths. fixes issue with dependencies and unloading in development. closes #36
- response set reports progress and mandatory questions completeness. closes #33
- adding correctness to response sets
- adding correctness to responses
- allow append for survey parser. closes #32
- making tinycode compatible with ruby 1.8.6
- fix for survey parser require
- fixing specs for namespacing and move of tinycode
- namespacing SurveyParser models to avoid conflict with model extensions
- fix for tinycode, more descriptive missing method
- validations in dsl and surveyor models
- preserve underscores in reference identifiers
- dsl specs, refactoring into base class
- adding display order to surveys
- moving columnizer and tiny column functionality to surveyor module
- columnizer (and tiny code) refactoring, columnizer spec extracted from answer spec
- cleanup of scopes with joins
- refactoring dependency
- question group dependencies
- expanded examples in kitchen sink survey
- custom index page
- custom classes and renderers
- fixing typo in kitchen sink survey
- new kitchen sink survey with better documentation of DSL
- migration misspelling
- fixing ordering, dependency conditions evaluation, and changing named scopes for now
- DRYing up surveyor DSL models
- working on adding dependencies for question groups
Copyright (c) 2008-2009 Brian Chamberlain and Mark Yoon, released under the MIT license