[EpiData-list] EpiData alignment problem

epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca
Mon Jul 17 18:44:47 CDT 2006


Steve,

If you want to line up the entry fields and are less concerned about the 
text around them, put @ before the entry field. It is quite easy, with 
minimal trial and error, to get the entry fields to line up. In my 
experience, most questionnaires align the spaces to capture text and 
with judicious use of spaces to separate field names/text,  you can get 
a questionnaire on screen that is quite easy to use.

We teach our field epidemiologists to enter data one field per line, for 
simplicity and because this produces a  nice companion to the codebook 
(we suggest using "first word" for field names). However, I also liked 
the fixed font approach of EI when creating questionnaires. Over the 
years, we realized that data entry fields scattered across the page were 
not ideal and shifted to the single column (with exceptions where it 
makes a lot of sense).

The help file with ED doesn't say much about @, but does point it out in 
the explanation of differences from EI.

In your example, I tried this:
A @<mm/dd/yyyy> B @<Y> C @___
D @___________  E @___ F @___

and, while E is not under B, the entry fields line up very nicely. When 
you add the field descriptions, it looks better. Some fields may need 
more than one @, or add spaces before the field name. I prefer to use 
'First word' because the questionnaire then documents the field names. 
Your colleagues should be able to master this easily.

A date goes here @<mm/dd/yyyy> B key y/n answer @<Y> C this is a name @___
D the address @___________ E diagnostic code @___ F outcome code @___

Jamie Hockin
Public Health Agency of Canada

epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca wrote:
>      I cannot get past info at epidata.com filter no matter what subject I use
>      so I am posting this to the group
>
> DEAR Jens and Michael ,    
>  
>       I have delayed composing this letter for quite some time because
>  I so much appreciate the efforts and accomplishments of the Epidata(ED)
>  team over the years.  I was one of the early users and continue to use     
>  ED extensively in our very many projects here at the hospital.
>       My problem is that what I see in the QES file is not translated,
>  as it appears, to the data entry screens in the REC file. In other words,
>  the form is not WYSIWIG; in fact, what you see is NOT what you get.
>  What you sometimes get in data entry screens are fields that are
>  scattered all over and the allignment between the lines is comletely lost.
>  This does not happen in EpiInfo(EI).
>       This problem is not apparent in the sample files because they only
>  have one item on a line.  To see the misalignment, the QES file must
>  have multiple lines and fields that use the brackets, such as date and
>  boolean fields. I examined the header portion of the REC file generated by
>  both EI and ED and they are essentially identical. The brackets and their 
>  conversion are the problem!
>  
>       Consider the following very simple QES file:
>  
>  A<mm/dd/yyyy>B<Y>C___
>  D___________   E___  F___ 
>     Note: the font may be changed by you email client.  To see the
>     point being made, letter D should be right under letter A, 
>     E should be right under B and F under C using a fixed-width
>     font, such as 'courier new' with no spaces between the fields.
>  
>  I have six fields(A-F) and have intentionally placed B right after A
>  and C right after B. If this file is converted to a REC file in EI, 
>  everything is aligned exactly as it appears above.  If it is converted
>  in ED, it is not. What EI does is remove the left bracket in field A 
>  and shift the REST OF THE LINE one space to the left. It then removes 
>  the right bracket from A and again shifts the REST OF THE LINE one 
>  space to the left. It then does exactly the same thing for field B. 
>  Everything would now be out of alignment with the next line,
>  except that EI then adds two spaces IMMEDIATELY to the right of EACH
>  field from which the brackets have been removed. In fact, if you
>  look at the data entry screen in EI, you will notice that after
>  shifting to the left as described above, two spaces now appear right
>  after field A and two space appear right after field B, and this 
>  maintains the alignment with the lines below. ED does exactly the 
>  same shifting as EI, but fails to add two spaces to the right of 
>  each of these bracketed fields. Changing the font in ED data entry
>  screens to fixed-width does not help.
>  
>  I develop QES files with hundreds of fields of all types, and  bracketed 
>  fields hopelessly mess up the alignment in both the screen version and in 
>  printed forms.  While I can now(since I figured it out)  make these 
>  adjustments in the QES  file to maintain alignment, I cannot  recommmend  
>  ED to any of  my less experienced colleagues because the entry screens     
>  and printed reports will  look disorganized, resulting in a less 
>  aesthetic experience and more data  entry errors.  I must therefore
>  either  personally design every form  (which I do not have time for), or   
>  have them use something horrible like Excel.
>       EpiData is a splendid product and is indeed legacy EpiInfo because it 
>  maintains the elegant features of the latter,  while adding many new and 
>  really useful ones.  The loss of alignment between lines, however, sort of 
>  ruins things for me although it probably does not affect most users. If my 
>  analysis is correct, I hope the program can be modified relatively easily.  
>  If I am wrong,  maybe you can&#8217;t do anything.  Either way, thanks again for 
>  all you have done for the rest of us EpiInfo lovers.
>  
>  Sincerely
>  Steve Blum, PhD
>  Associate Professor
>  Albert Einstein College of Medicine
>  Dept of Epidemiology and Population Health     
>  
>
>  
>
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>   



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