Facilitate oTree experiment implementation with extensions for custom data models, surveys, understanding questions, timeout warnings and more.
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October 2018, Markus Konrad markus.konrad@wzb.eu / Berlin Social Science Center

A package with common oTree utilities

This repository contains the package otreeutils. It features a set of common helper / utility functions and classes often needed when developing experiments with oTree. So far, this covers the following use cases:

  • Extensions to oTree's admin interface for using custom data models, which include:
    • Live session data view shows data from custom models
    • Export page allows download of complete data with data from custom models
    • Export page allows download in nested JSON format
  • Displaying and validating understanding questions
  • Easier creation of surveys
  • Displaying warnings to participants when a timeout occurs on a page (no automatic form submission after timeout)

Compatibility note: This package is compatible with oTree v2.x. (It has been tested with oTree v2.1.15 but any other 2.x version should work. If you want to use this package with oTree v1.x, you should use otreeutils v0.3.1, which is the last version to support oTree 1.)

The package is available on PyPI and can be installed via pip install otreeutils.


The repository contains three example apps which show the respective features and how they can be used in own experiments:

  • otreeutils_example1 -- Understanding questions and timeout warnings
  • otreeutils_example2 -- Surveys
  • otreeutils_example3_market -- Market: An example showing custom data models to collect a dynamically determined data quantity. Shows how otreeutils' admin extensions allow live data view and data export for these requirements. Companion code for Konrad 2018. See its dedicated README page.


The admin interface extensions have still a limitation: Data export with all data from custom models is only possible with per app download option, not with the "all apps" option.


This package requires oTree v2.x and pandas. The requirements will be installed along with otreeutils when using pip (see below).

Installation and setup

In order to use otreeutils in your experiment implementation, you only need to do the following things:

  1. Either install the package from PyPI via pip (pip install otreeutils) or download/clone this github repository and copy the otreeutils folder to your oTree experiment directory
  2. Edit your settings.py so that you add "otreeutils" to your INSTALLED_APPS list

Custom data models and admin extensions

If you implement custom data models and want to use otreeutils' admin extensions you additionally need to follow these steps:

1. Add configuration class to custom models

For each of the custom models that you want to include in the live data view or extended data export, you have to define a subclass called CustomModelConf like this:

class FruitOffer(Model):
    amount = models.IntegerField(label='Amount', min=0, initial=0)

    # ... more fields here ...

    seller = ForeignKey(Player)

    class CustomModelConf:
        Configuration for otreeutils admin extensions.
        data_view = {    # define this attribute if you want to include this model in the live data view
            'exclude_fields': ['seller']
        export_data = {  # define this attribute if you want to include this model in the data export
            'exclude_fields': ['seller_id'],
            'link_with': 'seller'

2. Add a custom urls module

In your experiment app, add a file urls.py and simply include the custom URL patters from otreeutils as follows:

from otreeutils.admin_extensions.urls import urlpatterns

# add more custom URL rules here if necessary
# ...

3. Add a custom routing module

In your experiment app, add a file routing.py and simply include the custom channel routing patters from otreeutils as follows:

from otreeutils.admin_extensions.routing import channel_routing

# add more custom channel routing rules here if necessary
# ...

4. Update settings.py to load the custom URLs and channel routes

Add these lines to your settings.py:

CHANNEL_ROUTING = '<APP_PACKAGE>.routing.channel_routing'

Instead of <APP_PACKAGE> write your app's package name (e.g. "market" if your app is named "market").

That's it! When you visit the admin pages, they won't really look different, however, the live data view will now support your custom models and in the data export view you can download the data including the custom models' data, when you select the download per app. So far, the "all-apps" download option will not include the custom models' data.

See also the market example experiment that uses custom data models.

API overview

It's best to have a look at the (documented) examples to see how to use the API.

otreeutils.pages module

ExtendedPage class

A common page extension to oTree's default Page class. All other page classes in otreeutils extend this class. Allows to define timeout warnings, a page title and provides a template variable debug with which you can toggle debug code in your templates / JavaScript parts.

The template variable debug is toggled using an additional APPS_DEBUG variable in settings.py. See the settings.py of this repository. This is quite useful for example in order to fill in the correct questions on a page with understanding questions automatically in a debug session (so that it is easier to click through the pages).

UnderstandingQuestionsPage class

Base class to implement understanding questions. A participant must complete all questions in order to proceed. You can display hints. Use it as follows:

from otreeutils.pages import UnderstandingQuestionsPage

class SomeUnderstandingQuestions(UnderstandingQuestionsPage):
    page_title = 'Set a page title'
    questions = [
            'question': 'What is π?',
            'options': [1.2345, 3.14159],
            'correct': 3.14159,
            'hint': 'You can have a look at Wikipedia!'   # this is optional
        # ...

By default, the performance of the participant is not recorded, but you can optionally provide a form_model and set a field in form_field_n_wrong_attempts which defines in which field the number of wrong attempts is written.

If you set APPS_DEBUG to True, the correct answers will already be filled in order to skip swiftly through pages during development.

otreeutils.surveys module

create_player_model_for_survey function

This function allows to dynamically create a Player model class for a survey. It can be used as follows in models.py.

At first you define your questions per page, for example like this:

from otreeutils.surveys import create_player_model_for_survey

    ('female', 'Female'),
    ('male', 'Male'),
    ('no_answer', 'Prefer not to answer'),

        'page_title': 'Survey Questions - Page 1',
        'survey_fields': [
            ('q1_a', {   # field name (which will also end up in your "Player" class and hence in your output data)
                'text': 'How old are you?',   # survey question
                'field': models.PositiveIntegerField(min=18, max=100),  # the same as in normal oTree model field definitions
            ('q1_b', {
                'text': 'Please tell us your gender.',
                'field': models.CharField(choices=GENDER_CHOICES),
            # ... more questions
    # ... more pages

Now you dynamically create the Player class by passing the name of the module for which it will be created (should be the models module of your app) and the survey definitions:

Player = create_player_model_for_survey('otreeutils_example2.models', SURVEY_DEFINITIONS)

The attributes (model fields, etc.) will be automatically created. When you run otree resetdb, you will see that the fields q1_a, q1_b, etc. will be generated in the database.

SurveyPage class

You can then create the survey pages which will contain the questions for the respective pages as defined before in SURVEY_DEFINITIONS:

Please note: Unfortunately, it was not possible for me to create the page classes dynamically, so you have to define them manually here. At least the overhead is minimal, because you don't need to define any additional attributes.

# (in views.py)

from otreeutils.surveys import SurveyPage, setup_survey_pages

class SurveyPage1(SurveyPage):
class SurveyPage2(SurveyPage):
# more pages ...

# Create a list of survey pages.
# The order is important! The survey questions are taken in the same order
# from the SURVEY_DEFINITIONS in models.py

survey_pages = [
    # more pages ...

setup_survey_pages function

Now all survey pages need to be set up. The Player class will be passed to all survey pages and the questions for each page will be set according to their order.

# Common setup for all pages (will set the questions per page)
setup_survey_pages(models.Player, survey_pages)

Finally, we can set the page_sequence in order to use our survey pages:

page_sequence = [
    SurveyIntro,  # define some pages that come before the survey
    # ...

# add the survey pages to the page sequence list

# we could add more pages after the survey here
# ...


Apache License 2.0. See LICENSE file.