How to hide forms in SurveyCTO Collect

If you’re using SurveyCTO for a long period, for several projects or using several forms for a wide range of tasks, you might want to restrict enumerators’ access to specific forms in the SurveyCTO Collect app. Although they just need to download and install the relevant forms from the Get Blank Form menu, they will see a list of all forms deployed on the server and might accidentally select other forms. While you can customize permission levels using user roles, it’s not possible to restrict access to forms in a single-team server. In this article, we will describe different approaches you can use to prevent this.

The most direct approach to restrict access to specific forms, both in SurveyCTO Collect and on the server console, is to use teams. User roles can be configured with access to forms belonging to specific teams. Although, for smaller organizations or projects, the solutions below might be suitable for your needs.

1. Default device configurations and Quick setup

With the recent SurveyCTO Collect early release feature to create default device configurations, you are able to install and download your enumerators’ forms remotely, while hiding the Get Blank Form menu to prevent them from mistakenly downloading unnecessary forms.

SurveyCTO allows you to create a default device configuration per user role. If you would like to configure devices’ differently among users with the same user role, note that you’re entitled to create as many custom user roles as you would like. We advise you to allocate users to user roles accordingly.

These are the steps to follow:

  1. Create a default device configuration. All the steps required are described in the product documentation, but you can also take a look at this step-by-step guide. Make sure you add all relevant forms (under Include forms) and cases dataset (under Include cases dataset). When configuring the device, consider the following:
      1. In General settings, enable all of the auto-download and auto-install features:
        • Auto download with Wi-Fi
        • Auto download with network
        • Auto download on network
        • Auto install downloaded updates
        This will ensure that any form update is automatically downloaded and installed without going to the Get Blank Form menu. 
      2. In Admin settings, uncheck Get Blank Form. This will hide this menu from the SurveyCTO Collect main menu.
    For more details on recommendable settings, take a look at best practices for configuring and securing enumerator devices.
  2. Instruct your enumerators to use the quick setup functionality in SurveyCTO Collect. When they do, their device will be configured accordingly.

If there is any change you would like to make to an existing default device configuration, that’s completely fine! Enumerators will be able to access and run quick setup at any time, so you just need to change the default device configuration on the Collect tab of the server console and instruct your enumerators to follow the same steps as in point 2.

2. Hiding test forms

If the forms you’re trying to hide from the Get Blank Form menu are still in development, check our functionality for hiding deployed forms during testing. Depending on your Admin Settings, SurveyCTO Collect is able to hide or display forms with a title beginning with the prefix "TEST -":

  1. Go to Admin settings
  2. Tap on “Show test forms” to enable this feature

As it is possible to revise the title of a form through a form update, you can add or remove the prefix to hide or reveal forms as you like. 

3. Restrict access using the form design

An alternative would be to add a passcode (e.g. "123abc") at the start of the form that would be required of any user opening the form to collect data. In the form design, this could be a text field with a constraint expression specifying the passcode chosen (e.g. .=”123abc”). This way no one without the passcode will be able to move forward and complete the form. 

Further, consider placing the rest of the form design in a group, and give the group the relevance expression, ${passcode} = '123abc'. This way, if skipping is allowed in Admin Settings, the user won't be able to see the questions at all.

In this approach, enumerators will be able to see the form and download it, but would be unable to finalize and submit the form. However, do not employ the above strategy with the group with an already-deployed form which you've collected data with for the reasons discussed in the product documentation.

4. Organize and rename your forms

The way Get Blank Form menu displays your forms reflects your forms’ organization under the Design Tab.


So, for example, if you organize your forms into groups and subgroups, all these hierarchies will be visible in SurveyCTO Collect. Form groups allow you to organize your forms in whatever way makes sense for you. As an example, you could have a group called "NOT IN USE" or “INACTIVE” where you might move old forms.

Additionally, consider form title changes to the same effect. You might update a form's title to include a prefix that tells the user what not to do (e.g. "DO NOT USE - …."). Just like with the previous approach, this won’t hide forms from your enumerators, but will make it easier and more visually to find the correct forms, minimizing misunderstandings.

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