Using Custom Question Types with SurveyTester

Special plugins for your surveys are used to leverage the out-of-the-box possibilities of your survey solution. Some survey programs offer native support for drag-and-drop or Ranking Questions, while others are limited to basic questions like categorical, open-ended questions, or grids. Most systems allow you to embed your own CSS and JavaScript files, so it is possible to create your very own question types. Shopping shelves or image maps are just some examples.

SurveyTester support for custom question types

Custom question types usually use native questions, like grid questions, to capture responses. These native questions are usually hidden; respondents interact with a visual overlay. Shopping shells, heat maps, or other interactive questions can be created this way.

SurveyTester usually interacts with the native questions in the background, so there are some rules, you should consider if custom question types are developed:

Use two-way update mechanism between the visual component and the background question

When SurveyTester automatically creates answers, it will usually use the background question. Ensure that the visual question updates the layout whenever the background question changes. This helps the tester see which answers were used and avoids confusion.

Set fields to readonly if they should not be changed

Grids with text fields are great for passing information to the visual component and capturing the answers. For example, a text grid could use one row for a shopping product and store information for building the shopping shelf, like product name, price, and image.
Other fields in the same row could be used to update the number of products selected from the respondents.

When SurveyTester answers a question, it is essential that it only answers the fields that are used for capturing answers. Any fields with control information (e.g., product name or price) should not be changed from SurveyTesters’ automatic answering engine.
When question plugins are developed, control fields (like product name) must be marked as read-only. SurveyTester will try to keep these fields the same, and this way, the question type will usually work.

Add “empty-answer” information to fields.

When a survey needs specific answers for some fields, Surveytester needs to know about this. An example is that the number of selected items of a specific product (in a grid) need to be 0 if no item is selected and it would not be possible to use just an empty text. By default, SurveyTester would usually use just empty text if answers are deleted. This can cause problems, if the Survey System would expect a number (e.g. “0”)

When creating the survey, adding the attribute “accesskey” in any field is possible. It depends on the survey system used and how this can be achieved. The attribute accesskey=”0″ would be used to use the number 0 when a field content is deleted.

Identify other needs and contact the SurveyTester Support Team

If the custom question plugin needs any other specific interactions, such as triggering a function, before proceeding to the next page, it might be necessary to implement some custom code into the SurveyTester auto-answering methods. Please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

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