formr survey framework

chain simple forms & surveys into long runs, use the power of R to generate pretty feedback and complex designs

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The following designs and many more are possible:

  • simple surveys with and without feedback
  • complex surveys (using skipping logic, personalised text, complex feedback)
  • surveys with eligibility limitations
  • diary studies including completely flexible automated email/text message reminders
  • longitudinal studies (e.g. automatically re-contact participants after they return from their exchange year). The items of later waves need not exist in final form at wave 1.
  • longitudinal social networks and other studies that require rating a variable number of things or persons

Core strengths

  • generates very pretty feedback live, including ggplot2, and interactive ggvis plots and htmlwidgets. We find that this greatly increases interest and retention in our studies.
  • automates complex experience sampling, diary and training studies, including automated reminders via email or text message
  • looks nice on a phone (about 30-40% of participants fill out our surveys on a mobile device)
  • easily share, swap and combine surveys (they're simply spreadsheets) and runs (you can share complete designs, e.g. "daily diary study")
  • you can use R to do basically anything that R can do (i.e. complicated stuff, like using a sentiment analysis of a participant's Twitter feed to decide when the survey happens)
  • not jealous at all – feel free to integrate other components (other survey engines, reaction time tasks, whatever you are used to) with formr, we tried our best to make it easy.


  • manage access to and eligibility for studies
  • longitudinal studies
  • send text messages (see the HowTo)
  • works on all somewhat modern devices and degrades gracefully where it doesn't
  • formats text using Github-flavoured Markdown (a.k.a. the easiest and least bothersome way to mark up text)
  • file, image, video, sound uploads for users (as survey items) and admins (to supply study materials)
  • complex conditional items
  • a dedicated formr R package: makes pretty feedback graphs and complex run logic even simpler. Simplifies data wrangling (importing, aggregating, simulating data from surveys).
  • a nice editor, Ace, for editing Markdown & R in runs.


  • work offline on mobile phones and other devices with intermittent internet access (in the meantime enketo is pretty good and free too, but geared towards humanitarian aid)
  • a better API (some basics are there)
  • social networks, round robin studies - at the moment they can be implemented, but are a bit bothersome at first. There is a dedicated module already which might also get released as open source if there's time.
  • more planned enhancements on Github


This is pretty much brand new software and is supplied for free, open-source. As such, it doesn't come with a warranty of any kind. Still, if you let us know when formr causes you trouble or headaches, we will try to help you resolve the problem and you will get our heartfelt apologies.

If you're the technical type (or employ one), you might consider hosting a stable release of formr yourself, because this version of formr tracks the most recent pre-release and will thus sometimes have kinks.