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1. Where is the software manual?
2. What do I need to build QPL applications?
3. Can the HomeSite version of QPL be Used with HomeSite+ that Macromedia ships with Dreamweaver MX 2004?
4. I installed HomeSite 5.x nd then followed the instructions for installing QPL, but I'm having trouble turning on the QPL tool bar following your set up instructions. Is there another way to do this?
5. Is HomeSite required to use QPL?
6. What software do respondents need to access a QPL questionnaire over the Internet?
7. Do respondents need to have Java enabled?
8. Does QPL put cookies on respondents' computers?
9. How many questions can I put in a questionnaire?
10. Can I use graphics in my questionnaire?
11. I don't have access to a web server. Where can I go to deploy my web survey?
12. What are the biggest challenges using this software to implement a web survey?
13. How secure are web surveys?
14. How can you assure confidentiality?
15. The bouncing green ball on the section menu is out of sync with the questionnaire page that is being displayed.
16. When using the Anonymous log in option, how does an administrator log in (since clicking on the Start Log In button directly opens the questionnaire without first displaying the log in screen)?
The manual is installed with the QPL development software. If you installed QPL as an add-in to HomeSite, the manual is added to HomeSite's on-line help system. If you installed the Console Edition of QPL, a short-cut to the manual was put on your desktop.
The requirements listed here are for the work station of the person who creates the questionnaire files that will be copied to a web server.
Yes. (If both HomeSite and HomeSite+ are installed, QPL will be installed into HomeSite.)
Yes. Starting at the HomeSite menu, select...
Options -> Customize... -> Toolbars
Under "Toolbar Position," select "Quickbar" and check the QPL box, then click on "Close.".
This should add the QPL toolbar to the the tabbed tool bar on the top-right of the screen. Click on the QPL tab to show the QPL toolbar.
No. You can use the "QPL Console" version without HomeSite. With this version, you have to run the QPL compiler yourself from the DOS command line (or setup a Windows shortcut).
The HomeSite version just provides macros (through a toolbar) that simplifies starting new projects and compiling projects.
No. QPL uses a server-side session management approach to keep track of respondents who are currently logged into a questionnaire.
The largest web survey we have deployed so far had 1,500 items and was over 60 pages long. The actual limit depends on the amount of memory in your PC to build the program files and on your server to run the program files.
Yes. Use the HTML image (IMG) tag and be sure to copy your graphic file to your questionnaire web site. You will need to escape the special HTML characters so that your HTML code passes through the QPL compiler. See the "QPL Language Syntax" page in the QPL manual for more information.
I am not aware of anyone who is in the business of deploying QPL surveys for folks. Deploying web-based surveys requires more talent on-hand than the old DOS program. Most of the folks I talk to work with universities or government agencies, and I encourage them to seek out someone in their IT department who knows what "PHP" and "MySQL" mean (i.e., the underlying server software used by QPL programs).
If you do not have an IT department, you have several options:
People. Generally, more than one person must be involved in a project to design, identify respondents, deploy, administer, and analyze a web questionnaire. The biggest challenge is to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are and, naturally, your biggest challenge will be dealing with your weaknesses.
There are a variety of issues to consider when deciding what steps to take to minimize the accidental loss or inadvertent exposure of web survey data. The extent to which you implement the following secure practices depends upon how sensitive your data is.
There are three basic issues...
1. Use good business practices. Generally, the only people who need to know where the questionnaire web site is are the respondents. At GAO we only inform the respondents of the web site location. There are no links to a questionnaire web site from any other location, and we set up our server so that Google and other search engine sites do not scan our web questionnaire server. We also remove the web site from the server promptly at the close of the survey.
2. Encrypt communications between the respondent and the web server. QPL surveys can be installed on a web server using the secure sockets layer (SSL) which will automatically encrypt the data transmissions. You can also purchase a commercial certificate that respondents can use to verify that your questionnaire web site is authentic and secure.
3. Secure the database. Normally, the MySQL database resides on the same server as the web site, though if setup and maintained well by the web server administrators there is only a small risk of someone accessing the data over the Internet in the data base. You can reduce this risk even further by moving the database to a separate server that is not connected to the Internet. Here, your web questionnaire site would access the special database server on a specially dedicated port and the firewall on the data base server would be set to only allow access from that server and thus virtually eliminate any possibility that the data can be accessed by a hacker. You will need to have control of your own servers to set up an arrangement like this.
Confidentiality builds upon the security issues (described above) to consider the issues of intentional release of data. That is, you need to prevent unintentional release of data before it makes much sense to talk about the intentional release of data.
Here too, there are several things to consider...
1. While you can run QPL surveys anonymously, this usually isn't helpful if you are targeting a specific respondent group and will need to follow-up with non-respondents in order to maximize your response rate. While you can use user account names that you make up, you will still often want to load the respondents' email addresses into the system to facilitate sending announcement and follow up email messages. So generally, while the project is running, you will want to have the responses linked to individuals.
2. Break the links after the survey period ends. This involves exporting the data and then building analysis data sets without the identifying columns, and then destroying all the original data sets, including the MySQL database on the web server. You also need to know whether your original files have been automatically backed-up to locations that you do not control. For example, we backup our data bases every night on tape. We recycle the tapes after seven days. Thus, no backup copy of the data will exist seven days after we close the site.
3. If you do not have the credibility, in the eyes of your respondent population, to be trusted to permanently break the links, you should consider contracting out the deployment of your survey to an independent firm with the stipulation that they break the links before returning the final data set to you. We do this at GAO when we conduct our agency-wide employee survey.
This occurs if you have used a page break code (>) in the SUBTITLE command in the first visible question in your program.
.QUESTION=Q1, TYPE=MULT .SUBTITLE=">My Section Title" What is your favorite color? .ANSWER Red Green Blue .NEXT
You must have a least one question on each page. Using a page break here is telling the system to put the first visible question on the next page which is not allowed. Fix the problem by removing the page break code and rebuilding your project. When redeploying the files on your server, you must also rebuild the data base since changing the number of sections in your questionnaire also causes a change to the data base.
Click once on the title on the home page. The status bar on the bottom of your browser will say "Force login..." Then you can click the "Start log in" button and get to the log in page. (Clicking on the title toggles the Force Login setting on and off).
Please note, however, that you will get a lot of 'empty' records when running anonymously because a new record is created every time someone clicks on the log in button, whether he or she entered any answers or not. This is only a problem to the extent that you will need to prune these empty records out for analysis. You can, if you want, change the "WHERE clause for tabulation report and data export functions" on the Default Project Settings page to a query that automatically screens out these dud cases.
Send comments to Kevin Dooley.