Now features Survey folders, Cascading questions and Roles & permissions

The December FLOW release contains three major improvements which we’d like to tell you a bit more about. As things will look quite different, we thought it would be good to give you some advance notice. We will roll out this release over the coming two weeks.

Survey folders

Where before, you only had a single level of folders in which to store your surveys, now there is a real folder system with folders inside other folders, just like a regular computer file system. This makes it much easier to organise large numbers of surveys.

It looks like this:


This shows a subfolder ‘Nicaragua’, which has three subfolders of its own, and a survey. Clicking on a folder opens it, and you can move between levels by clicking on the relevant folder. Folders and surveys can be moved around.

You can restrict access to specific folders, so a good folder structure can also be used to determine who has access to what. Read more about Survey folders.

Surveys and forms

We have changed the way we handle surveys. Where a survey used to have only a single question form, it can now have multiple forms, if Monitoring is enabled on a survey.

It looks like this:


Here we see a survey containing three forms. If you are already using Monitoring, we will automatically group together in a single survey the several forms that you may have defined within a particular monitoring group. Read more about surveys and forms.

Cascading questions

This is a feature that many of you have been waiting for. In a survey, sometimes a choice for question 1 should determine what options are shown in question 2, and so on. Determining a location is a good example: in a first dropdown question you choose the region, and then in the next dropdown, you can choose from the districts in that region, etc. With cascading questions you can accomplish this, with as many levels as you need.

You can define a cascade structure either manually, or by uploading a CSV file containing all the data. It looks like this:


Once a cascade structure like this is defined, for example by uploading the correct CSV file, it can then be used by multiple forms. On the device, a cascading question will simply be shown as a series of dropdowns to fill in. In exported data, the answers will show up in separate columns for easy analysis. Read more about cascading questions.

Roles & permissions

The FLOW dashboard is a place where lots of things happen: surveys get created, edited and distributed; incoming data is edited, cleaned and exported; and users are added or deleted. As Akvo FLOW is a tool meant to be used by organisations, it is important to be able to manage who can do what by defining user roles and permissions on the dashboard.

The permissions for a single user look like this:


Users can now be given roles within a certain folder, giving a lot of flexibility of how to manage who can do what. Roles can be customised. There is a lot more to it than this, so if you have some time, please take a look at the documentation. Read more about roles and permissions.

Need help?

This update represents a major change to how surveys and permissions are handled, and Cascading questions is a brand new function. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at if you need assistance, if you have any suggestions on how we can improve, or if you find anything that you think is not working as it should.

If you are curious to know what’s coming up over the coming months for FLOW, please check the roadmap.

Update 23 January 2015: we now have a transition document for existing FLOW users explaining 
the changes to the dashboard.

Mark Tiele Westra is the product manager for Akvo FLOW, and is based in Amsterdam.