Guide to case management part 2: Creating cases

This article is part 2 of our series on case management. See the bottom of this article for the other parts in this series.

In this article, we discuss the basics of a case management server dataset, and how to create and edit cases. See the bottom of this article for the other parts in this series.

In this series of articles, we refer to both "case management server dataset" and "cases server dataset". They mean the exact same thing.

Creating the cases server dataset

To create a cases dataset, simply create a server dataset with the dataset ID "cases", and add the needed columns. On the server console, SurveyCTO can set this up for you:

  1. On the Design tab, click on a plus + on the left for Add form, group or dataset.
  2. Click the Add server dataset button.
  3. Select the tab for New dataset for cases.
  4. Since there is only one dataset for case management by default, leave the default dataset title and ID. If you would like to use a different dataset ID, check out part 5 of this series, Adding multiple cases datasets.
  5. Select how it will be displayed to the enumerators (this can be changed later; for more information, check out part 3 of this series, section Case management views):
    1. Tree list: Cases are displayed as a tree, with a list of available cases, and with the forms assigned to each case listed underneath (keep this selected if you are a beginner).
    2. Table: Cases are displayed as a table, and can include dataset headers and other info. When a case is selected, it will open a tree of that case only.
  6. Click Create dataset.
  7. When you go to add cases, each case will be a row in this server dataset (see Generating cases below for more information).
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After going to the New dataset for cases tab, just click Create dataset, and the case management dataset will be created!

Column headers

Here is what a case management dataset might look like:

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Here is the data in that dataset, so it is easier to read:

id label formids users roles sortby
1001 Case 1001 water_management, real_estate collector1    
1002 Case 1002 water_management   data_collectors  
1003 Case 1003 water_management, water_backcheck collector6    
1004 Case 1004 water_management, real_estate, water_backcheck, real_estate_backcheck   data_collectors, managers  

Your cases dataset needs to include the column headers 'id', 'label', 'formids', 'users', and 'roles'. The 'sortby' column is optional, but it is a good idea to include it, just in case you need it later. All cases need an 'id', 'label', and 'formids' value, and the others are optional.

id: This will be the unique identifier column, used to identify each case. When you add cases to the dataset, each case should have a different id. The "caseid" field in a form will be filled automatically with the corresponding case's id value when opening a blank form from the case list (i.e. the Manage Cases menu). Learn more in part 4 section The "caseid" field.

label: A user-friendly name for the case.

formids: The form ID of each form that is a part of this case, with each separated by a comma.

Example 1: water_management

Example 2: formid1, hh_listing_2, household_form

Tip: To make them easier to read, form IDs can also be separated by a comma-space, as you can see in example 2.

users (optional): List of users who will be able to see this case, with each user separated by a comma. If this value is blank, then all users will be able to see this case, unless roles (see below) are specified.

Example: collector, user@example.com

If this column has a value, but no real usernames, then no data collectors will be able to view the case.

roles (optional): List of user roles whose members can see that case. If blank, then all users will be able to see this case, unless users (see above) are specified. If this column has a value, but no real user roles, then no data collectors will be able to view the case.

sortby (optional): A numeric value by which cases will be sorted in the Manage Cases menu, from low to high. If blank, then they will be first on the list, then sorted by their id.

The users and roles properties can be used to hide cases from all data collectors. To learn more, check out part 4 of this series, section Closing cases.

Note that while users and roles are optional in that you don't have to specify these for a case, a case management dataset must include these columns, even if they're empty. Otherwise case management will not work correctly.
While the column headers above are the ones used for case management, you can also add additional columns to the cases server dataset. We will talk about this more in part 4.

Generating new cases

There are a few ways to generate cases.

These methods can also be used for working with non-cases server datasets, whether you are adding rows, or editing its data.

Method 1: Creating cases manually

You can add cases row-by-row, like you would any other server dataset.

  1. On the Design tab, scroll to the cases server dataset and click Edit.
  2. In the table that appears, click Add row in the lower-left corner.
  3. In the row that appears, enter the new case data.
  4. Click Save on the left when the case data has been added.
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This new case has an id value of "101", a label value of "Case 101" and the forms with the form IDs "form1" and "form2" are assigned to it. The users and roles properties are blank, so all data collectors will be able to see this case. Click Save, and the case will be added!

Method 2: Manually uploading new cases

The most common way of creating cases is by uploading externally generated data. This allows you to quickly and easily add multiple cases at once.

  1. Create a CSV file or Excel workbook with the headers a cases dataset needs (see Column headers above for details).
  2. Add a row for each case. Ensure each case has a different id value, which should also be different from any id values already in the cases dataset. 
  3. Also make sure the case has at least a label and a formids value (the bare minimum together with an id value).
  4. Go to the server dataset on the Design tab, and click Upload.
  5. Click Select file.
    1. If your CSV file or Excel workbook is stored in Google Drive, first click Upload from Google Drive.
  6. Select the file containing your cases.
  7. Select Append, then click Upload.
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Case data from the file "new_cases.csv" is about to be added. Click Upload, and those cases will be added!
If you are having trouble preparing the upload data, check out our support article on how to upload external data.

When you add a CSV file to a server dataset, such as the cases server dataset, you will have three options:

Append: All data rows in the CSV file are added as new rows to the server dataset.

Merge: You will state which column of the server dataset is the unique identifier column; the unique identifier column in the uploaded data must have the same name. If the unique identifier of a row in the CSV matches the unique identifier of a row in the server dataset, then that row in the server dataset will be replaced by the CSV row. Otherwise, it will be added as a new row.

Replace: All rows (except for the header row) in the server dataset are removed, and replaced with the data rows in the CSV file.

Method 3: Automatically creating cases through publishing 

If a form is configured to publish data into a case management server dataset, that data can be added as a new row in the server dataset, creating a new case. To learn more, check out part 4 of our case management series, section Publishing data to cases.

Editing cases

The methods to edit a case are very similar to the methods used to generate a new case.

Method 1: Editing cases manually

  1. On the Design tab, for the cases server dataset, click Edit.
  2. In the table that appears, go to the case you would like to change, and click Edit.
  3. Change the case data as needed.
  4. Click Save on the left when you are satisfied with your changes.

Method 2: Manually uploading outside data

  1. Create a CSV file or Excel workbook with the headers a cases dataset needs.
    1. It may be easier to go to the cases dataset on the Design tab, and then download that data using the Download button. You can then work from the CSV file that is downloaded.
  2. In the 'id' column, use the case id of the case you would like to change.
  3. In the other columns of that row, add data to the columns you would like to change. If you leave a column blank, it will not be updated (i.e. if the value is blank in the CSV file, the value in the current dataset will not be changed).
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for each case you would like to change, and save the CSV file.
  5. Go to the server dataset on the Design tab, and click Upload.
  6. Click Select file.
    1. If your CSV file is stored in Google Drive, first click Upload from Google Drive.
  7. Select the CSV file.
  8. Select Merge, then click Upload.

Method 3: Automated dataset publishing

You can also use dataset publishing to update a case. To learn how, check out part 4 of our case management series, section Publishing data to cases.

More on case management

Be sure to check out the other articles in this series on case management.

  1. Introduction: Why it is a good idea to use case management, and examples of where it can be used.
  2. Creating and managing cases (this article): How to create a server dataset that can be used for cases, and how to add and edit your cases.
  3. Collecting data using case management: How to fill out cases forms on both a mobile device and in web forms, and creating automated workflows with case management
  4. Case management workflows: How to identify form instances as being part of a case, and how to publish to and pull data from the cases server dataset.
  5. Multiple cases datasets: How to assign different server datasets to different user roles for case management.
  6. Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting: Additional tips about what can be done with case management, as well as how to troubleshoot when something is not working.
  7. Example - Publishing to a case, and retrieving from that case: Walking you through a case management example, including pulling from and publishing to a cases server dataset.

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