Collecting data via iPhone - regularly, quickly, securely, non-web-based
April 21, 2014 9:42 PM   Subscribe

We're going to have some folks filling out the same simple form on a regular basis. Is there an app-based solution where they can enter the data and upload it securely to a central repository at the end of the day? A web solution may have been easier, but we're worried connectivity might be an issue during parts of the day. We want users to tap an app and be able to fill out a bunch of forms, then upload them all (securely) at the end of the day. A simple, elegant, fast interface would be a real plus.

I looked into Filemaker, Tap Forms, WebMerge - thanks to prior responses - but each has drawbacks
- Filemaker Go doesn't seem to allow offline access, needs third-party syncing scripts?
- Tap Forms would be great but doesn't seem to share securely
- WebMerge allows users to fill out forms offline, and upload securely, but we can't analyze the collected data if it's in PDF format

Maybe I'm overthinking this? Should we be using something like Apple's Numbers? Guidance welcome.
posted by borborygmi to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you want to use TapForms, this is the solution I would recommend.

1. Have each user set an password for the database on the device.
2. At the end of the day, create a backup file.
3. Upload the file to a dropbox account. (Configure in settings).

- At this point the submitter is done.

4. Admin loads that database into a new database on the desktop version of tapforms.
5. Exports data only for that day.
6. Imports it into a master database.

Similarly, this would also work in FilemakerGo as well (each user would have their own database that is encrypted and emailed at the end of the day to the admin). The step you are missing here is that each person has a version of the database on their own device - it's not pulled from a central server (if you are worried about connectivity).

An alternative method for Tapforms is to set everyone to iCloud sync. All devices would have to have thier documents synced to ONE icloud accnt. I'm not sure if there are limits and I honestly don't trust iCloud yet (compared to say dropbox). 2ndly - All users would be able to edit other users data. I don't like this solution.

The solution that I would go with, (even though I know you said no web) is Google Forms. Quick easy form design, light data load, no fuss formatting for mobile devices. Plus you get things like data validation, dropdown choices, prefilled forms etc. Seriously, try it out - it will take like 10 minutes and cost you nothing. Plus it gets rid of all the headaches that the above methods deal have.

Another web solution, that I don't like is Adobe Forms, but it may work for you. I haven't tried Numbers forms, so I can't speak to that - but it looks pretty. I've used all of these solutions in the past before, so if you have particular questions about them, drop me a line.
posted by Brent Parker at 10:38 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Handbase is another good database program, with versions for every platform. The desktop version allows multi-user sync, and the developer is working on a automatic cloud sync. There was a recent question on their forum which was similar to yours, the support tech offered to directly work with the potential user.
posted by Sophont at 11:57 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about wufoo?

Here's the iPad app.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:00 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

What data are you sending? It sounds like you are defining securely as "over HTTPS," but that may be insufficient from a regulatory and compliance perspective depending on what the data is.
posted by bfranklin at 6:57 AM on April 22, 2014

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