How to capture data through Mobile App / web on the GO ...
August 2, 2013 7:40 AM   Subscribe

This is a simple thing to ask, but how do I capture input data through a form on mobile phones / tablets / laptop in a database? More details in...

Hi, this is probably a very simple question, and I could search my way through the internet, but I wanted valuable and broader comments from the hive mind, as I am in a rush to do this. What would be the latest modern technological solution to the below?

I have to develop a solution from an NGO, where Field officers working out in the fields, will input data through their phones or tablets or laptops, and we are able to capture that in a database. Would a mobile web application work for this, or a mobile app? This would be largely done through the mobile phones. Would a PHP based solution with Mysql database work on this?

I just need a direction please, and then I can work on it.
posted by jassi to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Will these devices be connected to the internet while they are in the field? If so, you can just have them load a web page and fill out a form that works like any regular web site. If not, then you'll need to write some software that runs on the devices themselves, and can save data to the device and upload it later.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:39 AM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, these will be connected to the internet possibly. What technology would be best for this?
posted by jassi at 9:31 AM on August 2, 2013

I don't know if it's the best option, as its the only one I've used, but it's very easy to set this up in google forms. Make an easy to remember tiny URL to the form, give it to your field folks, and they can enter the data from wherever. The data gets dropped into a google spreadsheet.
posted by Empidonax at 9:40 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Google Forms. I've been pretty happy using for creating and tracking tiny URLs, specifically when distributing Google Forms.

What sort of manipulation of the data will you need to do? Will having it all in a Google Spreadsheet be sufficient?
posted by MonsieurBon at 10:36 AM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: I have not used google forms. Will try it. Any other options? Having it in a database would be nicer....because the data would be queried, analysed etc
posted by jassi at 11:37 AM on August 2, 2013

Any type of web server and database should be equally capable of handling this task, including the PHP/MySQL combo you mentioned above. I'd use whatever server-side software you already have available to you, or whatever you (or your programmer) are most comfortable working with.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:15 PM on August 2, 2013

If not, then you'll need to write some software that runs on the devices themselves

Offline web apps are well supported on modern mobile devices.
posted by robertc at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2013

Oh, I know - I'm a Mozilla developer and I have a Firefox OS phone in my pocket. But whether the software you write is an offline web app or some other kind of offline app, it'll need to do the same things (run entirely on the device, save the data locally, and upload it to a server later). That's a different and slightly more involved process than just putting a form and database onto a web server (or using a service like Google Docs). Doing it in the browser would just change which programming and markup languages you use.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:54 PM on August 5, 2013

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