Open source tools for interviews or surveys

Here’s another interesting tool. I was looking for Open Source apps for managing structured interviews for product research, e.g. to determine user needs during initial design or prototyping phases. You could use regular survey software, but this is limiting, and only LimeSurvey exists as a viable Open Source option AFAIK, and the usability of that app is, er, challenging.

Docassemble is a structured interview and report generation app made for lawyers. It’s primary use case is to automate certain kinds of legal advice, and generate signed, illustrated legal advice letters. There’s a commercial service using it at Documate, which bodes well for it’s long term sustainability. The features look right for product research interviews – apparently you can also monitor these live, and engage in real time chat with the user to step in where necessary.

Anyone used something like this for research before?


Yeah, LimeSurvey is a bit tough to say the least. :wink: @elioqoshi also recently asked about this topic on Twitter.

Regarding open source solutions, there’s also Tellform, which is modeled after the proprietary TypeForm. The development is slightly spotty though, and @elioqoshi mentioned there’s no way to install it currently?

There’s lots of researchers using Google Forms or Surveymonkey too, but of course it’s not an option to send the private data elsewhere.

Interestingly enough, just the other week someone from the community published a Forms app for Nextcloud – it’s still very early & rough and I haven’t done a design review or contributed yet. Any feedback, info on your needs, or design help, or mockups are also appreciated. :slight_smile: I’d love to make this a proper Forms app which is also useful for us open source designers.

Also here I’m sure @Renata @jdittrich @ei8fdb @bumbleblue @htietze @toolness @Erioldoesdesign have some input on the workflows and tools they use for research?

Oh I missed this thread! @Renata and me have been looking at a lot of other alternatives but didn’t find any. I tried Docassemble and I liked it! Will definitely try it out

Yeah, it used to work and it is definitely the most usable form creator from the open source ones. However there is really no way to install it right now without debugging the code (according to @AnXh3L0 ).

I use Polldaddy on Wordpress for simple yes/no questions or any other tool, in case of more elaborated surveys Limesurvey is great. Not the best usability but still manageable. Back in the days at User Prompt I used UserWeave started by @bjoern, unfortunately it’s discontinued yet.


Agree with the difficulties of LimeSurvey and Tellform. Docassemble looks great.

I noted that most specific “UX” or non-quant-research tools tend to be usually run by one person with no or few community, so I tend to be careful there if they are web-based (security and such…)

So my basic strategy is using well established tools for my purposes, like LibreOffice, VLC… They are not ideal, but they are more sustainable.

For the specific usecase of structured interviews (not considering docassemble), I would then use a combination of a Wordprocessor and a Spreadsheet.

For more elaborate processes there are also some open source Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) like RQDA but is is more for the rare intersection of Open Source nerdiness and qualitative data analyst. (Addition on 2019-07-12: Far easier to use and also open source: Taguette)

Nice for interview transcription: (but in many cases, VLC is great, too)

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Great replies, thanks. Sorry mine has been slow.

Does anyone have experiences with Framaforms, as recommended on Twitter? Unclear if it’s French language only.

The Nextcloud forms app looks promising; please keep us posted on that @jan!

Parlatype looks like a useful tool. Web-based automatic transcription services are also an option, like Proprietary, unfortunately, of course.

Form apps are also super useful for business experiments (such as testing demand and market research). I’m also interested in this use case.

Hey folks, coming into this very late :grimacing:

I looked into Limesurvey and Tellform to do simple online surveys but Ushahidi tends to rely on organizing remote face to face interviews through skype/hangouts/in-person etc.

What we do try to do is upload photos of our written notes, recordings of the interviews and then a typed up summary of our design findings and insights. I have an example in a closed repo that I’ve duplicated here:

But it’s more of a process than an OSS tool. We tend to have a need for deeper UT and usability research but I’d love to find a tool that allows for robust testing in an OS way.

FYI I find testing participants from literally everywhere, facebook groups, slack groups, twitter, our customer base, in person groups etc. etc. basically guerilla UT tactics :slight_smile:

Super interesting. Thanks a lot for sharing. I’d never thought of using GitHub that way.

Deffo can’t take credit for this process it was @justin that started it. He’s my favourite ex-‘boss’.

Re. Limesurvey and TellForm <- going back to OSS that terrifies me as a non-developer person who opens up the terminal and immediately wants to puke. These too things were hard for me to understand how to self-host. I wish there was a hosted forms that was OSS…