Open Source Business: Survey Software Limesurvey

Limesurvey is probably the most advanced open source survey software at the moment. I have used it for a short survey projekt already and I was impressed.

The successor of PHPsurveyor is based on PHP and MySQL, which gives the possiblity to install it on many shared hosting services. The current stable version is Limesurvey 1.71 and they are currently working on Version 1.8.

At the same time the team around the project leader Carsten Schmitz work on a total reworked version Limesurvey 2.0, which looks very promising.

The current stable version already offers many things you need for a normal survey. I guess it covers 90% of all features necessary. The backend looks a little bit odd, but once you get used to it, it is quite easy to work with. But often the first impression counts and Limesurvey 1.7 doesn’t look very professional at the moment. I think this can be a problem for some companies, because decision makers will also judge upon their first impression.

Survey templates currently shipped with Limesurvey have the same problem. However, theming a Limesurvey survey is pretty easy. Just that some html tags are hard coded is a bit annoying, because it makes CSS styling of your survey template more difficult.

The new Limesurvey 2.0 will hopefully get rid of this problem. Many of the things I am currently missing will probably be solved in the new version:

  • Customizable form elements (radio buttons, check boxes, etc.)
  • Good reporting tool
  • Better usability
  • No hard coded html tags
  • etc.

I had a very nice talk with Carsten a few days ago because a few developers had left the project and I was concerned about the effect on future development of Limesurvey 2.0. But Carsten made clear that the team is planning to release the new version in 2008.

By the way: the project is looking for sponsors, so if your company / organisation needs a good, solid survey tool just get in contact with the Limesurvey team (I am sure they will happily listen to your special needs). It will still be cheaper than any of the big players and as the software is open-source own add-ons, your own hardware etc. should be no problem at all.

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