Using Previous SurveyPro Files as Templates for New Projects

Frequently, customers will contact the Support Department asking how to delete the data from an existing SurveyPro project file so they can reuse it for a slightly different project. After verifying that the customer does not need to perform longitudinal analysis on the different data sets, we’ll walk them through the process of using the Mass Delete feature in the Answer Entry screens. At that point most customers end the call and press on with their project.

But, there is another aspect of this situation that bears examination. And that aspect is the underlying database that is created as you add questions and grids to a questionnaire. Removing unneeded or unwanted data in the Answer Entry screens does not affect the structure of the database itself, only the responses.

Keeping that in mind, say you have a survey that contains 100 questions, after deleting the Fiscal Year 2008 responses, you start editing the questionnaire. Deleting the 10 question tiles which contain FY2008 specific questions you start adding tiles that contain FY2009 specific questions. If you were to check the tile list in the questionnaire you would see that after adding 10 2009 specific tiles you end up with 100 questions. But an examination of the Database Questions branch of the Object Tree would reveal that your database contains 110 questions.

A closer examination reveals that the extra 10 questions (numbered 101 – 110) were the 2008 questions that you deleted at the beginning off this process! Questions that do not appear on a questionnaire are shuffled to the bottom of the list while the questions appearing on the questionnaire are numbered sequentially.

It should be obvious at this point that the relationship between a question in the database and a tile on a questionnaire is not a hard link. The tile on a questionnaire is only a representation of the Question Text to Scale relationship that exists in the database. Removing one does not guarantee the removal of the other; in much the same way as removing the data via Mass Delete does not remove the associated question tile on the questionnaire.

To keep your database clean you should finish your edits with a purge of the unneeded items for the Database Questions list. Once you do have your 2009 questionnaire finalized you should go back to the Database Questions branch of the Object Tree; and starting from the bottom of the list, remove questions that no longer appear in the questionnaires. This will result in a smaller SurveyPro project file and remove unwanted and empty report figures from the automatically generated Executive Summary and data Table reports.

For more advanced information on file management, please check out our tutorial training module “Auditing Projects and Creating Templates”: http://apian.com/training/mastering-sp.php.