QPL Reference Manual

The Questionnaire Programming Language (QPL) system lets you easily create web-based self-administered questionnaires. These questionnaires look much like an ordinary paper questionnaire, but let respondents enter answers using their Internet browser or email reader. Their answers are automatically stored in a data base at the questionnaire web site.

Default QPL Page Layout

Sample QPL Page

It also has email functions that let you send email messages from your questionnaire web site to your respondents. These functions let you customize each message for particular respondents, specify which respondents should receive which messages and when, and format the message using HTML tags. These functions are described in the Email section of this manual.

The QPL system is designed to handle questionnaires with large numbers of questions. Having 200 or more items is not unusual at GAO. You may organize your questionnaire into any number of pages, with each page having any number of questions. New in QPL 6, you may now layout your questions horizontally as well as vertically. And you can chain separate questionnaire web sites together so that they appear to the respondent as one single questionnaire. This lets you create a questionnaire with any level of hierarchy. The system also lets you create skip instructions that jump respondents to appropriate questions and around inappropriate questions.

To create a questionnaire web site, you first must write your questions in the QPL programming language and then use special QPL developer software to convert it to a set of files that will run on a web server. This process is described in the Authoring section of this manual.

Once you have built the web server files, you must give the collection of files to your web server administrator. The administrator then copies the files to the web site, builds the supporting data base (from one of the files you built), and sets the various options on the QPL administration page that you requested. This process is described in the Deployment section of this manual.

After the files are installed, you can view the questionnaire and administrative pages over the Internet using your browser. You can also pretest it with respondents. And you can use the administrative pages to monitor activity on the site, including seeing who has accessed the questionnaire and getting summary statistics of the results. This process is described in the Administration section of this manual.

You may export the data from the web site at any time to perform a more detailed analysis using a statical software package, such as SPSS or SAS, or a text retrieval package, such as askSam (Note: 2018-02-09 The askSam company is no longer in business).This process is described in the Analysis section of this manual.

Finally, starting with version 5.04.001, you may also perform a content analysis of responses made to short answer (STRING) and open-ended (OPENEND) questions. The new content analysis functions allow you to define topic codes and let any number of coders apply the tags to responses using the project web site. Various reports show the results of the analysis including frequency reports by question and tag, and inter-rater reliability statistics.

Authoring Requirements

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.

Authoring questionnaires described in the Authoring section of this manual.

Server Requirements

The requirements listed below are for the web server that will host the QPL questionnaire.

Specific configuration requirements are described in the Server Set Up section of this manual.

Respondent Requirements

The web pages QPL generates are fully compliant with the W3C HTML 4.01 Transitional DTD specification, so they can be expected to work consistently with all current web browsers.

The current version of the QPL software has been tested with the following browsers:

JavaScript must be enabled on the respondent's browser.

The QPL system does not put any cookies on the respondent's system.