Survey Control File

We recommend that you thoroughly test your survey prior to sending it to participants and gathering data. The Control File allows a lot of flexibility in how you structure and run a survey so it is important that you ensure it collects the data you want in the way that you want.


The Control File is a text file which prescribes the content and scheduling of a survey. It must be created as text document using a text editor such as "Notepad" or "TextEdit" and saved with a suffix of ".survey" and an encoding type of "UTF-8".

This encoding is extremely flexible and will allow a wide range of language scripts to be used. It will also accept emojis.

Research Decision

The PIEL app presents two options for running surveys.

  • The first option is to use the App to present “Run Once” surveys. With this option the participant (or participants) initiates the opening of the survey. The survey can be initiated multiple times. The researcher can embed a participant ID within the Control File or can require that participants can enter their own ID.
  • The second option is to schedule or prescribe that the survey to be presented to the participant at various times over the course of a day or week. With this option the participant does NOT initiate the timing of the survey.


Below is a sample Control File. Use this sample as an easy way to develop your own Control File. There are some simple syntax rules which must be followed.

  • Each command is placed on a new line.
  • Many commands are optional, often having default values. This will be described in the following text.
  • A vertical bar "|" (usually located above the enter key) is used in the Control File to separate its different components. Do not use "|" at the beginning or end of a line. You do not need any spaces before or after this separator.
  • Do not use the symbol “%” followed immediately by a letter in the text of questions.
  • You can put comment lines in a Control File by inserting # in front of each line. # stops these lines from being read as a command.
  • Delete a Control File line by simply removing it or alternately by inserting # in front it. This second option is useful if there are lines that might be needed later. Rather than repeatedly deleting and reinserting lines, simply add or remove # at the front of the line.

name|PIEL Sample Survey

author|PIEL Administration












exit-message|3|Thank you for testing the PIEL Survey.

placeholder-message|No questions for now, thank you for checking!


#Below are the questions. Integers indicate the question number

1|How did you hear about the PIEL Survey?|From a colleague %NEXT 3|Internet Search %NEXT 3|Advertisment %NEXT 3|Reading a review/blog %NEXT 3|In the Apple Store|Other

2|Please provide details of where you heard about the PIEL Survey. %TYPE text

3|Did you find the PIEL App easy to use? %TYPE slider|Difficult|Very easy

4|What features do you most like about the PIEL Survey? (you can choose more than one). %TYPE checkbox|Ease of use|Accessibility|It's quick|It's intuitive|It's on my iDevice|Other

5|How many times have you used the PIEL Survey. %TYPE list|First time|2-5 times|6-10 times|More than 10 times

6|Did you use our website before using this PIEL Survey? %TYPE list|Yes|No %NEXT 8

7|Please tell us what you found useful on the website and what you would change. %TYPE text

8|Will you use the PIEL Survey again? %TYPE list|Yes|No %NEXT END|Maybe

9|What type of questions will you use in your next survey? %TYPE checkbox|Button|Checkbox|Slider|Text

10|Do you have any more comments? %TYPE text