Give your questions the colors they deserve
December 26, 2015


We’ve just added a small but powerful new feature that gives you more control on how you visualize data on your map.

One of the challenges with our maps to date is you could not specify the colors for specific responses to data. Since colors are randomly assigned, it’s very possible to have true show up as red and false as green on a map. Confusing, we know!

To address this, we’ve made it possible to assign colors to specific categories (options) on the choices sheet in XLSForms.

Why do this in XLSForms? We will consider a UI approach in the future. However, we have seen firsthand how XLSForms have helped organizations standardize the way they author forms to collect data. By expanding XLSforms to support basic visualization logic – we can help ensure the data is interpreted in the way the author for the form intended.

How does it work?

color options

Right now you simply add the colors you want in the “appearance” column. To allow us to support modification of other visualization properties in the future, we use a format similar to CSS, a language typically used to style web pages. You can, therefore, specify a color in the appearance column as, for instance, color: red.

Note: You can use any standard web color, such as red, yellow, green or orange. You can also use hex codes, which gives you a wider selection to choose from. The website provides a nice palette of hex alternatives to the default colors that you can choose from.

The example form used in this demo can be found here.

Happy mapping!

About the Author

Matt’s role is to set the vision of the company. He sees challenges and envisions solutions; he sees data and envisions use. Prior to founding ONA, Matt led a social enterprise initiative at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he served as ICT Director for the Millennium Villages Project. He had previously been Technology Director for ChildCount+; and a member of Columbia University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering research group in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science . Matt was born in Cameroon, grew up in Senegal, and has worked in Africa for 15+ years. He is a PopTech! Social Innovation Fellow and was named to the 2010 Time 100 List of Most Influential People of the World. Matt has an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and has taught ICT4D at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University where he was adjunct faculty.