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Guidance on building a dashboard for one survey - how to access responses

6 years 3 days ago - 6 years 3 days ago #150240 by driz
Hi all,

I have been using LS for a couple of months now and I absolutely love the software. It is a great tool for me with so many possibilities. I am running a number of surveys in it and have had no issues making the surveys look and work the way I need to.

I am now looking at options to provide access to the results for my client, however want to give them a dashboard that will display the data in the charts that I need, without any other access to LS. I also need to do calculations on the data rather than simply displaying the "raw" results in a chart. E.g. for some questions I need to calculate an index number and display that in a chart, and for other questions I need to merge categories before displaying them.

After hours of looking, I believe the only way to achieve what I have described above is to build something myself. Is this correct? If it is, what options are there? I have experience building dynamic database driven websites in PHP + MySQL. I looked into the API, however I don't think that provides me with a lot of reporting options other than exporting the data. I looked at accessing the data directly from the database, but I could not find the right table where the results would be. Then i had a look at the Expression Manager and I think it can help me do the calculations I need, however I would then like to use that in a reporting page, and not the actual survey. I don't think that is possible?

I tried to find plugins, but I could not find any that would help me with this. I would love to help build a plugin however I am not a professional programmer and I don't think I could contribute any code to the standard that I have seen in LS.

A few threads in the forum talk about displaying the results in a dashboard - so I hope that someone can help me in the right direction. If I can get some guidance, or a simple example of how to access the data, that would be awesome!
Last edit: 6 years 3 days ago by driz.
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6 years 3 days ago #150241 by gabrieljenik
Hi !

I have built many custom dashboards in the past.
If you are interested, let me know and I may be able to provide a quotation.



Solutions, code and workarounds presented in these forums are given without any warranty, implied or otherwise.

Checkout our Reporting Solutions and our plugin shop at www.encuesta.biz .

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6 years 3 days ago #150242 by driz
Great! Are you able to give me some pointers on how to get started with this myself? How do you access the data?
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6 years 3 days ago #150245 by jelo

driz wrote: A few threads in the forum talk about displaying the results in a dashboard - so I hope that someone can help me in the right direction.

After reading these threads what is your conclusion?

I see three ways of accessing data

a) Direct access of the database
b) Indirect acceess via plugIn
c) Indirect acccess via API

A dashboard can be everything from a static display to a strong analytic toolbox.

Depending on your needs and budget you could choose a dashboard tool.
From open-source to commercial there are a lot of tools. But all come with there own requirements for being used as a web-based service. Most are not based on PHP, so you would need additional software to run the show. Often the user management is only available in the commercial tools.
What are you able to maintain? Java, Python and third party libraries might need to be installed and updated. With many dashboards you end up with a complex toolchain to keep running.

I would search and test dashboards without thinking about LimeSurvey first.
Access of data is a secondary issue. Your primary issue is to maintain the dashboard on a server.
Or you might outsource the dashboard and use a SaaS tool.

There is currently no gold standard for external reporting/dashboard with LimeSurvey.

Personally I'm looking for a way to access LimeSurvey via the API via R.
I'm looking for dashboards which can run R and allow having a usermanagement.
E.g. Shiny is offering something in that direction
But the user management is only available on the commercial server offering.
Which is currently at $9,995 per year.

The combination of HTML with R our Python in "notebooks" looks quite promising.
E.g. IPython notebooks like this:

If you want code some PHP you might try the Reportico component with this plugin to get something out of LimeSurvey.

It all depends on your budget in time and money you want and can invest. If you know R, Python etc you have more options to choose from. If you stick to PHP and MySQL, you might need to do it on your own. If your clients needs a solution next week, you might have to hire a coder to create a special dashboard for one survey.

I'm not convinced about the dashboard hype at all. Often a good PDF report is doing the trick. That could be done with R via LimeSurvey API. The PDF would be recreated every 5 min and then uploaded somewhere on the web.

The meaning of the word "stable" for users
The following user(s) said Thank You: gabrieljenik
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6 years 3 days ago #150263 by holch
I am also baffled by the fee for the Shiny server. Basically $10.000 per year. One can ony afford that when you have a lot of usage for this. Definitely not a solution for a few custom reports and dashboards per year for some surveys. I guess it is rather targeted towards the internal reporting of KPIs in big corporations, continously.

I answer at the LimeSurvey forum in my spare time, I'm not a LimeSurvey GmbH employee.
No support via private message.
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6 years 2 days ago #150264 by driz
I had looked at Reportico, but wasn't impressed by the looks, and I am afraid it will limit me in making it look good. I also considered it risky to connect two open source systems - what if one makes changes and the other doesn't have the resources to align their software quickly. I had consider R and Shiny in the past, and can't justify the licence fee considering my client isn't paying for the dashboard.

Due to all of this my conclusion was that it would be safest if I build and maintain something myself with PHP. I am more than happy to document my work so it can be added to the manual if it helps others do the same. Anyone with experience in this who is happy to help me take the first steps?
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