[EpiData-list] First public test of new Entry Client (xml file structure) - please test and comment

epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca
Fri Sep 10 04:38:21 CDT 2010


  Announcement:

An important development step has been reached:
The first public test release of the new EpiData Data Entry Client.

Since the first release of EpiData software in 1999 focus has been on 
data quality, stability and simplicity seen from the end users point of 
view. This strategy has been extended with more functionality and 
release of Analysis some years ago.

Following the large user base resulting in download counts in several 
thousands as documented on the download pages - and unknown 
dissemination of copies to other users - an important decision was made 
a few years back to rewrite the whole software for the next decade.

This has resulted in change to a new development environment (freepascal 
and Lazarus - see lazarus.org), which allows for crossplatform 
development based on the same source code, but also a new file 
structure. The EpiData XML file format "EPX" combines and replaces the 
current qes, chk and rec files into on physical file. It will also allow 
for more extensive access control at section level and compliance with 
so-called GCP (Good Clinical Practice) principles.  The specification of 
the EPX format takes place in discussions with The Danish Data Archives 
(http://samfund.dda.dk/default-en.asp) in relation to securing 
compatibility with the DDI formats (see http://www.ddialliance.org/)

The file structure will be fully documented. Currently you can see the 
principles in
http://www.epidata.org/dokuwiki/doku.php/documentation:datafileformat:xml_v0

The re-written software will consist of three parts - and possibly batch 
processors for repetitive tasks.
a. EpiData Data Manager
b. EpiData DataEntry Client
c. EpiData Analysis

Therefore it is a crucial step in the development that users having 
either Linux, Macintosh or Windows operating systems can now test the 
new software released in as well 32 and 64bit versions for as well 
Manager and Data Entry Client (a+b).

Users are urged to test as well data definition, change in definitions 
and entry for files. Also please comment the development on this list.

In particular test and discuss these aspects:
a. can we define all structures we would like   ?
     - notice that in definition of data paste of text and qes like 
structures is possible
b. is the naming of structures and aspects correct ?
c. is the "feel of the software" easy to adapt to from earlier versions ?
d. Also test local language formulations of data forms and entered data.

In particular point c is important. We have to renew the system and 
principles. but would not like to loose a large number of users. Notice 
that the current release is NOT containing the controls in check files, 
but this will come later. We have a detailed development plan, which has 
been discussed in previous mails on this list.

In the sample data base we have included 12 different local language 
fonts, which we can see on our monitors here, including Danish, Asian 
and right-left such as Arabic. The text included should say "Sample 
text", which we translated with an automatic translator on the web. On 
linux the right-left or left-right is shown correctly, but in windows 
all local fonts are aligned to the left border of the text field.

The current test release is not for production, but only for test. But 
we proceed to add further functionality and more introduction documents 
until most of what was contained previously is available. Programming is 
done by Torsten Christiansen here in Denmark and specification via 
current functionality in EpiData Entry and Analysis, plus the 
discussions on this list and with the "Friends of EpiData Group", see 
the credit page on epidata.dk.

The test version is released as a combined package of Manager plus Entry 
Client, but also includes the "sample.epx" file and is found on: 
http://www.epidata.dk/testing.php

As soon as stability has been secured via your tests we will change the 
status from test to release with limited functionality. The time for 
this is not defined, but some aspects are crucial before turning to 
first actual release, e.g. secured timed back-up or reading of EPX files 
into analysis.

One major change for entry is that now all data resides in memory until 
saved, therefore the user is asked to save project when closing. This 
will result in longer load times at the initiation of entry, but allows 
for quicker search and moves between records.

Regards to all

Jens Lauritsen
Initiator and coordinator of EpiData Software
Denmark



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