Auto IDs can be a useful way of identifying an interview, but itís important to understand how they work to avoid problems. A Surveybe user has recently identified an issue with the operation of Auto IDs which can cause problems for interviewers in a very specific set of circumstances. These are detailed below.

This issue will be resolved in the next software release. In the meantime here some general tips for using Auto IDs followed by an explanation of the specific problem.

When setting up Auto IDís in the Designer, remember:
  • There can only be a single Auto ID used on a questionnaire
  • It must be the last identifier - it wonít work anywhere else
  • To make sure itís long enough - changing the length of an identifier mid-project will cause problems
When an interviewer returns to the dashboard after collecting answers, the answers should be saved in the existing interview (if there is one) or an auto ID created that is one higher than the highest existing ID in the interview folder. This means that, to avoid duplicate interviews, your field processes need to ensure that:
  • The other identifiers uniquely identify the individual hardware unit that is being used (typically by identifying the interviewer)
  • The most recent interview isnít removed from the interview folder (otherwise the Auto ID numbering will restart, potentially creating duplicates)
The reported issue occurred when an interviewer followed this particular set of steps:
1) Create a new Interview (letís call it AC_123-1)
2) Enter some answers then return to the dashboard
3) Re-open AC_123-1
4) Close the Implementer without returning to the dashboard
5) Re-open the implementer
The Implementer opens with AC_123-1 open
6) Return to the dashboard
The Implementer saves the interview (with any changes made to answers since step 3) as AC_123-2. The original interview AC_123-1 remains as it was when saved at step 2.

The problem doesnít arise:
  • If the interviewers return to the dashboard
  • If the interview was new (rather than re-opened)
The nature of the steps means itís unlikely to happen regularly. If you are using Auto IDs, to minimise the risk, itís probably worth reminding your interviewers that they should always return to the dashboard, and not just close the Implementer.

A fix for this issue will be available in version 4.2, the next planned release.