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Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me collect and chart data on the iPad


Dear Aunt TUAW,

A nephew needs some help.

I just got my iPad and I'm really, really liking it. Although not a replacement for my Macbook Pro, it certainly has cut down on my usage a lot.

I'm trying to create an "Evaluation Form" for my iPad and immediately process the results for display.

I have 10 categories with 10 questions in each category. The participant provides a score of; 1 (less like them) - to - 10 (more like them) and secondly they rank the relevance of the question to their situation: Completely Irrelevant - Somewhat Irrelevant - Somewhat Relevant - Completely Relevant to weight the score's importance to the participant.

With Excel I've been using a basic spreadsheet for inputting the data and then on a following Sheet showing the results in a Radar Chart which has been quite effective. The first chart show results by category. Then additional charts breakdown the result of the questions within each category.

I like the Radar Chart because it quite visually tells the participant where their strengths are and where they are weak. Well of course Excel does not work on the iPad except through third-party apps and Numbers doesn't do Radar Charts.

I'm hoping you might have a suggestion on how to get this to work on my iPad or to provide an alternative "App for that. (Thought about Roambi but there's no way to directly input data on the fly).

Here's an example:

Category 1
Question: A Input ____ Relevance ____
Question: B Input ____ Relevance ____
Question: C Input ____ Relevance ____

Your loving nephew,


Dear Tom,

You're asking a lot of that poor iPad. There are bits and pieces around of what you're trying to do, but not one single solution -- at least as far as Auntie knows of.

She turned to iOS developer Zach Starkebaum, whose Form Tools PDF app allows users to enter data using PDF-based forms. He told her that when it comes to radar charts the options are limited on the iPad. "If you can move into the world of line and bar graphs there are many options like Numbers and OmniGraphSketcher that can provide professional charts." But radar charts? A little harder to come by.

"If you need radar charts and you have an available internet connection, Google docs is an option," Starkebaum explained. "On your Mac, you can setup a Google spreadsheet with a Radar chart much like you would in Excel. The interface for Google docs on the iPad is somewhat limited, you will probably want to setup the spreadsheet on a Mac or PC." Starkebaum pointed to this example sheet he created, that you can copy and modify.

He recommends enabling the Publish as web page option available under the Share menu, explaining that this allows you to get a quick link to a web or PDF version of the spreadsheet. Here is a link from his example; you can even create a form from the spreadsheet to enable easy data entry. Open the spreadsheet in Safari on your iPad and enter the appropriate values. Open the link to the published web page and you will have a presentable Radar Chart.

If you just want to capture the form information for entry later, Starkebaum's own app Form Tools PDF), has a new version that will be available soon that supports the export of form data as a CSV file that you can open in Excel for further processing. Don't feel that you have to be tied to a single app solution for both gathering and viewing the data.

Auntie sends Zach Starkebaum a big hug for his help in researching this information and doing all that legwork with the forms!

Here's hoping that it helps you out.


Auntie T.

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