Exporting results

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Revision as of 10:18, 23 October 2013 by DenisChenu (talk | contribs) (Exporting a VV survey file {{NewIn|v=2.05}})
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Once your survey is active you can start browsing responses and export them. To get to the survey response overview click...

Browse results.png

Export to application (Excel/.csv)

On top of the browse responses page several export options are listed, beginning with export to CSV/application.


When exporting results to an application there are several filter options which are separated into:

  • General
    • Set a range like export records X to Y
    • Set to export all records OR completed records only OR incomplete records only
  • Questions
    • Set how the heading should look like: Abbreviated heading OR full headings OR question codes
    • Convert spaces in question text to underscores
  • Answers
    • You can either export full answers or convert answer codes Y and N to a defined variable
  • Format
    • Microsoft Word (latin charset)
    • Microsoft Excel (all charsets)
    • CSV File (all charsets)
    • PDF
  • Column Control
    • Set which answers should be exported. All answers in this list are represented by their SGQA identifier
    • Set which token data should be exported. This option is only available if your survey is not anonymous!

Export tokens.png

SPSS Export


To export your response data to SPSS go to Responses & Statistics section and click the icon to export to SPSS.

Spss toolbar.png

Export and filter data

When exporting data to SPSS there are two filter options. You can select which data should be selected (all records/completed records only/incompleted records only) and for which SPSS version the export files will be used (prior version 16/16 or up).

SPSS export includes two files:

  1. a syntax file (survey_xxxx_SPSS_syntax_file.sps)
  2. and a data file (survey_xxxx_SPSS_data_file.dat).

After having downloaded these files you can open them using a raw text editor like notepad to take a look how the exported data looks like. The syntax file holds the commands that should be run to import the data. It is like a programming language inside SPSS. The data file contains a comma separated file with all data. If you just import this data as csv via a wizard you loose information about questions, labelsets etc. so we don't do that.

Import data in SPSS

Place the two files in the same folder on your drive (example: c:\data\survey_xxxx_SPSS_syntax_file.sps and c:\data\survey_xxxx_SPSS_data_file.dat)

We have two options now:

1. When using Windows use the explorer to browse to the folder used above. If SPSS is connected to the .sps file extension you can just open the file by double clicking it:

Spss explorer-screenshot.jpg

Now you can just choose Run->All from the opened window and after some time have your output dataset that you can save as a normal .sav file.

2. Sometimes the easy solution above does not work. Then you can proceed as follows:

  • Open SPSS
  • Choose File->Open->Syntax
  • Choose the appropriate file: c:\data\survey_xxxx_SPSS_syntax_file.sps
  • Now the syntax opens.
  • Change the line that reads /FILE='survey_xxxx_SPSS_data_file.dat' to include the path where the files are: /FILE='c:\data\survey_xxxx_SPSS_data_file.dat'
  • Now mark the whole command text and choose Run->All from the menu and after a while (please be patient) you have the dataset with all info like questions, labels etc.

R Export

Feel free to add more information if you have some!

The freeware software R is an alternative for SPSS. It is closely linked to the SPSS export in LimeSurvey. Instructions on how to import your dataset in R:

  1. Download the syntax file and the data file.
  2. Store both files in R work listing (use getwd() and setwd() in R command window to set and indicate).
  3. Enter source("Surveydata_syntax.R", encoding = "UTF-8") in R command window.

STATA-xml Export

This option is available from version 2.05

STATA is a commercial data analysis and statistical software package.

This export routine was created to facilitate rapid analysis of data collected with LimeSurvey. It creates an XML-file in STATAs proprietary format, which can be imported independent of the platform STATA is run on. Using this format offeres several advantages over importing plain CSV files:

  • Data sets are fully labelled including variable labels (question, subquestion) and value labels (answers, if applicable).
  • Dates are already transformed to STATAs internal date format and thus can directly be used to calculate difference between days etc.
  • Variable names are, if necessary, converted to a STATA compatible format.
  • Data formats of variables (string, integer, float, etc.) are already set according to the underlying data. (No more numbers encoded as strings :) ).

Howto load the file in STATA: In STATA's menu, click on File, Import, xml-data. Choose browse to navigate to your exported file and click 'OK'. That should be it. If you prefer STATA's binary .dta files, you can just save your data again in this format.

Be aware: Due to a limitation in STATA's data format, the string length has a maximum of 244 characters. Everything > 244 characters is not exported.

VVExport (File:Exportvv.png) and VVImport (File:Importvv.png)

Hint: This feature changed with version 2.05

Once you've begun collecting responses, there may be occasions where you need to be able to directly edit and modify large quantities of data from your responses table, where a spreadsheet tool may be more useful.

VVExport (the "VV" stands for vertical verification) allow you to export your responses table into a .csv file. So long as the general structure of the file remains intact, you can then edit values within it, and the import the file again into your responses table using the "VVImport" feature.

Things you should be aware of:

  • If you want to import responses using "VVImport" make sure to check whether the responses should be added to the existing responses or all responses should be overwritten.
  • If you are trying to import responses from a different yet identical (e.g. identical questions/answers from another survey) make sure you are using the correct vv file and that the first two lines of the .csv-file are correct.
  • If you import a survey to your LimeSurvey installation the SID will (if possible) not change. The group id and question id however might change. So you might have to adjust the first two heading lines to match the new group id/question id. See Adjusting vv file headings

VVExport file version 2 (New in 2.05 )

New system allow different column name than the database. If you question code are unique, then the new version is selected. In the new version : each column name are the Qcode Variable Naming. This allow to update more easily an existing survey in different installation for example.

Exporting a VV survey file


When you choose to export responses using VVExport you will be given the option to choose which survey to be exported, whether you want to export all responses or complete responses only or incomplete responses only. The file extension allows you to choose which extension the exported file will have. For easy use .csv should be chosen.

A 'vv survey file' allows you to import the responses to a survey when the question/answer combinations have changed. Effectively this allows you to add or remove questions in an active survey.

Clicking on "Export a VV survey file" will then produce a tab delimited file that can be opened by Excel or similar style spreadsheet program. The first two rows of the spreadsheet are the column labels. The first row is a "human readable" column heading that details the name of the question/answer field. The second row is the internal PHP/database column name for that response.

You should not modify the first two rows of this spreadsheet if you want to be able to "import" the data back into LimeSurvey at a later point.

Exporting a VV survey file (New in 2.05 )

Hint: This features is available starting in version 2.05

  • Export survey : The survey id to be exported (read only)
  • Export : The completion state of response to be exported
  • File extension : The file extension. The file is a TSV (Tab-separated values) file. For easy opening in MS-Excel set the extension to txt, with LibreOffice, OpenOffice or other spreadsheet program you can leave it to csv.
  • VV export version : You can use old or new versio actually (1.0 or 2.0 version). 1.0 version use database column header, 2.0 use Qcode Variable Naming. Version 2.0 is selected by default if all you Question code are unique.

The first two rows of the spreadsheet are the column labels. The first row is a "human readable" column heading that details the name of the question/answer field. The second row is the real column name (Internal DB or Qcode name) for that response.

Editing a VV survey file

When a vv file has been successfully exported you can use a spreadsheet tool like Microsoft Excel or alternatives to open and edit the file. If you have to choose the column seperator use "Tabulator". If you are using mutated vowels (like ä, ö or ü in the german language) make sure you use "UTF-8" as used character set.

If you are using Microsoft Excel to edit the exported vv file, you should know that excel destroys the original data structure of the file. This causes an error when you try to re-import the edited vv file.

But there is a workaround which allows you to edit the file with excel and import it without problems, as one of our users found out (see "Importing a VV survey file")

As mentioned before the first two rows of the vv file are headers so you should not change them. There are different use cases for importing a vv file so we will differentiate between adding new responses to a survey and overwriting all responses of the survey.

example (structure of a vv file):

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

Adding new responses to the existing responses of a survey

If you want to add new responses to the survey you can delete every row past row two (the both headers should not be deleted) and add the new responses using one response for each row. You can add the responses by entering them manually or copy/paste the reponses from e.g. another vv file (be carefull to add the responses only and not the header.)


Step 1: Open file

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

Step 2: Delete old answers

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

Step 3: Add new answers

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

17    10.11.11 12:44    3    de        4

18    24.11.11 14:53    3    de        2

You can then import the survey, make sure not to override the existing responses (see "Importing a VV survey file").

Overwriting all responses of the survey

If you want to overwrite all responses of the survey you can just add the new responses to the end of the file. As mentoined in "Adding new responses to the existing responses of a survey" you can either enter them manually or copy/paste them from another vv file.


Step 1: Open file

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

Step 2: Add new answers (at the end of the document)

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

17    10.11.11 12:44    3    de        4

18    24.11.11 14:53    3    de        2

You can then import the survey, make sure to override the existing responses (see "Importing a VV survey file").

Adjusting vv file headings

When importing a survey it might happen that the survey id stays the same while the group and question ids change. In order to import the survey results you have to adjust the headings of the vv file. How to import a new survey and the survey results will be explained below.


Step 1: Import the new survey

Step 2: Activate the new survey

Step 3: Export the "empty" results of the new survey as vv file

Step 4: Open the "empty" vv file (new SGQA: 46492X45X3269)

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X45X3269

Step 5: Copy the first two lines/rows from the "empty" vv file

Step 6: Open the exported vv file from the old LimeSurvey installation (old SGQA: 46492X40X1991)

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X40X1991

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

Step 7: Paste the new headings (copied two lines/rows) into the first two lines/rows of the old vv export file (now the SGQA should be 46492X45X3269)

Response ID    Date submitted    Last page    Start language    please vote from 1 to 6 (1 - super, 6 - worst)

id    submitdate    lastpage    startlanguage    token        46492X45X3269

183    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        4

184    09.11.11 11:53    3    de        2

190    09.11.11 11:44    3    de        1

You can now import the vv file and the headings are correct.

Importing a VV survey file


As long as the first two lines are intact, you can then import the data in your vv survey file back into an active LimeSurvey survey.

If you used Microsoft Excel to edit the exported vv file, the data structure of this file may be corrupted, so LimeSurvey is not able to import the edited file. You can try the following workaround to get the import working without an error:

  • Open your exported vv file in Excel and do your changes (I guess you already did that)
  • Save it as tab-separated text file (It creates a new file with the extension .txt)
  • Do another "clean" vv export from LimeSurvey
  • Open this new exported vv file with a texteditor like notepad or something else (I used textwrangler on mac)
  • Press CTRL + A to mark all of the content and delete it
  • Open the Excel edited vv file (the tab separated .txt file) with a texteditor and press CTRL + A to mark all of the content
  • Press CTRL + C to copy the content and paste it into the new (now empty) vv file
  • Press CTRL + S to save the file as it is (as .csv)
  • Now try to import this file

Then, from the browse screen, choose the "Import a VV Survey file" icon.

The "Import a VV Survey File" screen needs you to choose the "vvexport" file you are importing. If you choose to "Exclude Record IDs" the records will be imported and brand new Record ID's will be generated for them (use this option for the use case "Adding new responses to the existing responses of a survey"). If you un-check this box, then the original record id's will be imported (use this option for the use case "Overwriting all responses of the survey").

There are a range of options you can choose that tell LimeSurvey how to deal with double or multiple entries.

  • Report an error (and skip the new record).
  • Renumber the new record
  • Replace the existing record (uses this for the use case "Overwriting all responses of the survey")

Other export options

Export a single response

If you want to export an individual response, you can do it in 3 ways:

1. Login to limesurvey admin backend, choose your survey, goto "Edit survey settings" -> "Notification and data management" and make sure you receive basic email notifications.

Every time someone has completed a survey, you will receive an email with a link: "Click the following link to see the individual response"

This will take you to a page with a button above the data saying "Export this response"

2. Login to limesurvey admin backend, choose your survey and "Browse responses for this survey". Click on "Display responses" and the id number you want to export in the left column. Then you can click on "Export this survey" above the data.

3. Login to limesurvey admin backend, choose your survey and "Export results to application". In the last field above "Export data" you can choose which entry you want to export.

Match responses from different surveys

If you want to track survey responses for particular individuals over time, LimeSurvey can help you do that. A possible use case is to track group responses before and after the group takes a particular seminar.

The steps to implementing this are as follows:

1. Create the survey

2. Make sure the survey is non-anonymous and uses tokens. To create a non-anonymous survey:

a - Click on the icon General settings.

b - Then under the Tokens tab select "No" for Anonymized responses.

3. Activate the survey.

When you activate the survey, click on the "switch to closed-access mode" button to create the token table:

Switch to closed.png

4. Populate the tokens table with whatever method you wish (follow the instructions found at the Tokens page ).

5. Export the survey results and make sure you include the token information.

To export click browse results...

Browse results.png

...and then export:


Remember to choose one or more elements from the token table to associate with the survey responses:

Export tokens.png

6. When you run the survey again, which can easily be done by copying the survey and tokens table using export/import, just repeat the steps, and make sure the same query is used to build the csv token import file.

Problems & Solutions


Modifying responses in Excel prior to Import

In order to make multiple changes to responses, you may choose to Export and open a file in Excel. Make changes to the data (other than the top lines) and then save as a .txt file. If you save as .csv, Excel uses comma-delimits which will not import into LimeSurvey. By saving as a .txt file, Excel saves as a tab-delimited file which imports back into LimeSurvey.

Edit .csv with Excel

In general we do not recommend to use Excel to edit the exported .csv files because Excel does some changes to the internal data structure which results in a failing import. If you nevertheless want to use Excel you have to set the seperator for Excel to a comma in System Control (Windows Systems):

System Control|Region- Languageoptions|Regional Settings, customize...|Tab Numbers|Digit grouping symbol| replace ; with ,

Workaround to edit .csv files with Excel

Using Excel for editing questions can prevent you from being able to re-import them. But editing is the way to go if you have more than 5 or so options or ranking options, want to use Excel capabilities like sorting, etc.

This is a partial workaround that seems to work in 1.82-essentially, only use Excel on the part of the file that is the data:

  • Export a question similar to what you would like to reuse as .csv file
  • Open the CSV file in a rawtext editor
  • Copy the part that has the answers to Excel, and parse it with Text to Columns or equivalent.
  • Use the talent of Excel to allow pasting text in columns to paste in 20, 50, 100 answers, as you wish
  • Save the file as Excel CSV, which will likely have no quotes.
  • Open this file in the editor, and Select All, Copy
  • Go back to the file you opened with the rawtext editor
  • Paste over the answers there
  • Save AS, with a different name, maybe one that you can remember for reuse
  • Import this file.

Excel - export limited to 255 columns

Due to limitations in Excel (versions lower and equal to 2003), LimeSurvey can export only 255 columns at the same time. Microsoft has proposed a workaround as a VB macro.

Although newer spreadsheets (Excel >= 2007, OpenOffice) can display more than 255 columns, the internal module used by LimeSurvey still can't export more than 255 columns.

Two workarounds are however possible, use one of the following solutions:

  • Either export to CSV and import in your spreadsheet
  • Or use multiple exports (selecting at most 250 columns at a time), then merge the exported results

Excel/.csv - export fails

If you are unable to export your data to excel or into a .csv file please try to clear your browser cache and cookies.


CSV defaults to 255 columns

When exporting large surveys the GUI by default limits the export to the first 255 columns. To work around this, simply mark all data sets for export.

SPSS export

General steps

To import the LimeSurvey response data please use the following steps:

  1. Click on the 'Export to SPSS' icon.
  2. From the select boxes select which responses you want to export and your SPSS version.
  3. Download both files, the .sps (SPSS syntax command file) and .dat file (data file)
  4. Open the .sps file with SPSS by opening SPSS, then select 'Choose another type of file' and select the downloaded .sps file.
  5. Now an editor opens inside SPS where you can edit the commands in that file. Look for the line that starts with '/FILE=...'
  6. Edit that line and adjust the path so it points to your .dat file. Example: Your *.dat file is in c:\temp so set this line to  /FILE='c:\temp\survey_(xxxx)_SPSS_data_file.dat'
  7. Now select all commands inside the editor by pressing CTRL-A.
  8. From the SPSS menu select Run/All.
  9. Be patient, it will take some time to import all data and labels. Check the status bar for the progress.
  10. Done!

Possible error messages in SPSS

ERROR. command name:Get Data

If you receive the error message ERROR. command name:Get Data. 2267 Unexpected Token missing. please edit the forth line of your syntax file so it points to the absolute path of the data file like


Error: "Text value unmappable in the current server locale"

This error can happen if you try to open an exported syntax file in SPSS 16. The solution is to force SPSS to interpret the syntax file as unicode.

Open SPSS. Go to Edit > Options > Character encoding for data and syntax. Change the option to "unicode".

LimeSurvey data can now be exported to SPSS 16 without any problem.

Define the scale to use for your variable

It is possible to override the default scale used for a variable by setting the question attribute scale_export to the appropriate value.

VV Export/Import

VV - Problems with vv import

If you have difficulties importing a vv file, try a Tab-delimited file and it should work fine.

Other problems and solutions

Copying responses into a different survey (using tokens)

  1. Create new survey, add a dummy response, export the response file, open in Excel. This creates the format for the new import file.
  2. Export the responses from the old survey, including tokens, open in Excel.
  3. Use this data to create an Excel worksheet for the standard token file import (eg. Firstname, Lastname, Token, Email address, Email status (OK), Language (En)). Save as .csv and import tokens to the new survey in LimeSurvey.
  4. In Excel, copy the response fields from the old survey responses that you want in the new survey (including token) into the appropriate Excel column of the new survey format.
  5. Save as .txt file.
  6. Use VVImport to import the new data into the new survey.
  7. Possible import errors include date format - some system date fields do not allow a NULL value, some do. If the date looks okay but gives an error, use the Excel cell format "2009-12-01".