Skip to main content

Convert ODK files from XlsForm to Xform.

Project description

qtools3 - Questionnaire Tools for ODK

This software qtools3 provides tools and utilities for dealing with PMA questionnaires. It converts the XLSForms to XML and then does all appropriate edits. It also can be used as a simple XLSForm Offline converter.

The software qtools3 is an upgrade from qtools2. The primary purpose for this upgrade is to port the software from Python 2 to Python 3. This was made possible because the community's PyXForm added Python 3 support in 2018.


The software qtools3 relies on Python 3 for core functionality and Java for ODKValidate. The steps to install are

Note: the author uses Homebrew for Python installation on Mac.

Windows-specific steps

Some difficulties arise if python and pip are not be added automatically to the PATH upon installation. For instructions on how to do this, consult this document.

Open CMD (click start menu, type CMD, press enter).

cd C:\Python36\Scripts

Continue with installation or upgrade...


NOTE: Windows users start with the Windows-specifc steps section.

On a terminal or CMD, run

python3 -m pip install qtools3

For the latest and greatest, install directly from github

python3 -m pip install

Command-line usage

Besides being the workhorse of qtools3, the module qtools3.convert also provides a command-line utility. New-style linking (with all instructions contained inside the XLSForm) is now the default. Old-style linking (line-by-line manual XML editing instructions) is removed. To see help files and usage, run in the terminal

python -m qtools3.convert --help

Quick-start guide

Type of conversion Command
PMA form conversion python -m qtools3.convert FILENAME [FILENAME ...]
XLSForm-Offline equivalent, convert and validate python -m qtools3.convert -ril FILENAME [FILENAME ...]


Short Flag Long Flag Description
-r --regular This flag indicates the program should convert to XForm and not try to enforce PMA-specific naming conventions or make linking checks for HQ and FQ.
-p --preexisting Include this flag to prevent overwriting pre-existing files.
-n --novalidate Do not validate XML output with ODK Validate. Do not perform extra checks on (1) data in undefined columns, (2) out of order variable references.
-i --ignore_version Ignore versioning in filename, form_id, form_title, and save_form. In other words, the default (without this flag) is to ensure version consistency.
-l --linking_warn Produce warnings for incorrect linking directives. Default is to raise an exception and halt the program.
-d --debug Show debug information. Helpful for squashing bugs.
-e --extras Perform extra checks on (1) data in undefined columns and (2) out of order variable references.
-s --suffix A suffix to add to the base file name. Cannot start with a hyphen ("-").


Translation Regex Mismatches

These qtools3 conversion warning messages appear whenever there is a discrepancy between translations with respect to numbering, i.e. '[0-9]+', and/or variables, i.e. '${...}'.

Example - Numbering Mismatch

In this example, the warning '[0-9]+' will appear, because "0" is not the same things as "zero". To fix this, please ensure that ALL languages use only arabic numerals (e.g. 1, 2, 3...), or only word-based numbering (e.g. one, two, three...).

  • English: Please enter 0.
  • Bad Pidgin English: Please enter zero.

Example - Variable Mismatch

ODK variables should never be translated. If the main language shows "${months}", all language translations should also show "${months}". Of course, what the user sees on the phone will still be translated.

  • English: Enter ${months}.
  • Bad French: Entrez ${mois}.

Example - Variable Mismatch

Translations should use all variables that the English uses.

  • English: There are ${hh_count} people in the household
  • Bad Pidgin English: There are (ODK will fill in a count) people in the household


NOTE: Windows users start with the Windows-specifc steps section. To install qtools3 updates, use

python3 -m pip install qtools3 --upgrade

For the latest and greatest, replace master in the URLs above with develop.

Every once in a while, it will be necessary to update pmaxform3. To do this, use

python3 -m pip install pmaxform3 --upgrade

Suggestions and Gotchas

  • Check the version in the terminal to see if a program is installed.
  • Check Java version with javac -version
  • Check Python version with python -V.
  • Check pip version with pip -V.
  • Another executable for Python is python3.
  • Another executable for pip is pip3.
  • The most recent Java is not required, but successful tests have only been run with Java 1.6 through Java 1.8.
  • A dependency of pmaxform is lxml, which can cause problems on Mac. If there are problems, the best guide is on StackOverflow.
  • During installation of pmaxform on Mac, the user may be prompted to install Xcode's Command Line Tools. This should be enough for lxml.
  • qtools3 may run without Java. Java is only needed for ODK Validate, which can be bypassed by using the "No validate" option.
  • Xcode 9 presents issues with missing header files. If at all possible, install Xcode 8.

Project details

Download files

Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.

Files for qtools3, version 0.3.4
Filename, size File type Python version Upload date Hashes
Filename, size qtools3-0.3.4-py3-none-any.whl (27.0 kB) File type Wheel Python version py3 Upload date Hashes View
Filename, size qtools3-0.3.4.tar.gz (26.8 kB) File type Source Python version None Upload date Hashes View

Supported by

Pingdom Pingdom Monitoring Google Google Object Storage and Download Analytics Sentry Sentry Error logging AWS AWS Cloud computing DataDog DataDog Monitoring Fastly Fastly CDN DigiCert DigiCert EV certificate StatusPage StatusPage Status page