Microsoft Forms and Flow - Leveraging Real-Time Survey Results in the Cloud

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If you've been using Excel Surveys to create your quick and dirty questionnaires, then you've probably had to deal with managing all the results in Excel directly.  As I've discussed in my article, Microsoft Flow Preview for Office 365 Business Tenants - First Impressions, Forms provides you with the ability to export your results into Excel.




That's great, but what if you want want to access the data directly from othe cloud-based systems?  With the release of Forms, Microsoft also released around the same timeframe a new trigger for Flow that fires whenever a new survey is submitted.  The trigger can then be followed by a number of actions, which can map every question from the survey separately.  For example, you could set up an action to populate a list in SharePoint with the various survey entries as shown below




Once in SharePoint, you can work with the information.  There are, however, some limitations for the various question types used.  


Text and Long Text

Those two question types work well in SharePoint, where information gets copied in the proper format.  However, Forms doesn't limit the length of a string in a standard text field.  If the text is longer than the maximum supported 256 characters, then the workflow will hand and eventually fail.



Ratings are represented as numbers in Forms.  When stored in SharePoint, you can use either a text field or Number field to store the numeric value of the rating in it.



Date fields captured in Forms can be mapped directly to date fields within SharePoint without any issues.  Currently, there is no way to enter time in Forms.  So if you use a Date field and configure it to show Date and Time, the time will always be 12:00AM.



With the Choice field, things get a bit more interesting.  Let's look at the two separate scenarios for Single Choice and Multiple Choice questions


Single Choice

When you create a Singne Choice question in Forms, the results need to be stored in a text field in SharePoint.  Trying to save the result in a Choice field (with the same options) will result in empty results.  Interestingly, if you were to try and convert the SharePoint text field to a choice field later on, it will actually recognize the values.


Multiple Choice

With multiple choice questions you also need to store the results in a SharePoint text field.  However, parsing of the results requires extra work, as the format of the Forms multiple choice field differs from that in SharePoint, as shown below:


Forms Multiple Choice:  ["100 - Beginner","200 - Novice","300 - Intermediate","400 - Expert"]


SharePoint Multiple Choice:  100 - Beginner;200 - Novice;300 - Intermediate;400 - Expert




Overall, it's great to be able to leverage survey results as soon as they are created.  With a few extra question types and functionalities in Flow, this combination can greatly help with mainstream survey/questionnaire management.

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