Piping/Repeating FAQs and Troubleshooting Tips

In Alchemer, piping (sometimes referred to as repeating) allows you to use information collected in your survey at a later point in that same survey. Often, piping lets you efficiently tailor the survey experience to the specific respondent taking the survey.

A simple example of piping would be collecting a respondent's name via a survey question, and then using that collected name to personalize content later in the survey.

 What Piping options are available?

Alchemer offers the following piping/repeating options:

  • Simple Piping: Using simple piping, a.k.a merge codes, you can display a single answer from a previous question on a later page. This is typically used in the question title or in a text/instruction element.
  • Option Piping: Using option piping you can use the answer(s) (either those that were selected or left unselected) from a previous question as the answer options in a question on a later page. Learn about piping unselected answer options.
  • Question Repeating:  Using question repeating you can repeat a question on a later page using the answer(s) (either those that were selected or left unselected) from a previous question. Learn about repeating questions based on unselected items.
  • Page Repeating: Using page repeating you can repeat a survey page for each selected/unselected option in a previous question.

 What should I know before using piping? Are there other options?

To pipe, or not to pipe, that is the question. While piping comes in handy during the build phase of your survey; it's not always the best setup when it comes to your data.

There's almost always an alternative to using piping in your survey. Typically, setting up your survey without piping means some more manual work on your end, but the experience for your survey respondents will be identical. Why not save myself the time then, you ask? The answer is simple: your data. Piped data is pretty complex and can be time consuming to decipher in the analysis phase of your survey. And, of course, all survey building decisions should be made with your data in mind.

Learn about some things that you should consider before using piping, as well as piping alternatives.

 When would I use Simple Piping?

Simple piping utilizes merge codes to reference information provided earlier in a survey (i.e. ask your respondent to provide their name and later use the name provided to personalize text in the survey). 

See simple piping in action in our example survey to get a better idea of how it works.

Convinced that simple piping is what you need? Learn how to set this up in your survey!

 When would I use Option Piping?

Option piping allows you to use the answer(s) (either those that were selected or left unselected) from a previous question as the answer options in a question on a later page. 

See option piping in action in our example survey to get a better idea of how it works.

Are you ready to set up option piping in your survey? Learn how to add option piping for compatible questions!

 When would I use Question Repeating?

Question repeating allows you to repeat a follow-up question for each answer option selected in a compatible question on a prior page. Perhaps you want to learn the same piece of information about each option selected in a prior question - question repeating is a great approach for this scenario. 

Take this feature for a test-drive in our example survey.

Want to use this feature? Learn how to add question repeating to your survey!

 When would I use Page Repeating?

Page repeating allows you to repeat a page for each answer option selected in a compatible question on a prior page. Perhaps you have a set of follow up questions on a page that you want to ask for each option selected in a prior question - page repeating is a great option to efficiently set this up. 

Not convinced? See how page piping works in our example survey.

Are you ready to use page piping? Learn how to implement page repeating in your survey.

 Why can't I select the question I want as the source question for piping?

Are you having trouble selecting a question as your source question? There are two possible reasons as to why your question would not be showing up as your source question:

  • The question you are trying to pipe from is not compatible. View compatible source questions for:
  • Your source question is not on a previous page to the question you're trying to pipe into.

 Can I exclude an answer option from being piped?

You sure can! If you wish to exclude an answer from being piped you can do so within the answer option on the source question. Click the pencil icon to edit the option and scroll to the bottom of the Settings tab and change the Always Exclude from Piping to Yes.

 Can I pipe/repeat based on those answers that were not selected?

By default, piping/repeating is based on the answers selected in your source question. However, if you want to repeat based on the answers that were not selected, you can do so with the click of a button!

You can repeat based on un-selected answers for option piping, question repeating, and page repeating.

 Can I repeat a question or page based on the number of items that were selected in the source question?

Are you looking to repeat questions or pages based on a respondent-entered value?

Say, for example, you want to collect the make, model and year of all cars a respondent owns. You start by asking how many cars the respondent owns and then repeat the make, model and year questions based on the number of cars the respondent said he or she owned.

We call this piping by value. It is compatible with Number questions as well as Radio Button or Dropdown Menu questions with numeric reporting values. There is a maximum of 150 for the piped value!

 How can I pipe options selected from multiple questions into one follow-up question?

The built-in piping/repeating options in Alchemer allow you to pipe selected answers from one source question to one follow-up question. While there is not a feature for piping answers from multiple source questions into one follow-up, we have devised a workaround to help you achieve this.

 If I have existing answer options in a question that I am piping options into, can I anchor those options to the bottom?

Piping into options allows you to use the answer(s) (either those that were selected or left unselected) from a previous question as the answer options in a question on a later page.

It is very common to have an already existing answer option in the question that you are piping into, such as 'Not Applicable'.

By default, the Not Applicable option would be the first option presented to the respondent in your follow up question - making for an awkward order of options.

Using the Fixed setting, we can 'fix' Not Applicable to the bottom of the answer list when piping!

 If I am piping based on a question that contains an "other-write in" field, how do I make sure that the text entered into the field is carried through?

When piping and repeating options, questions, and pages based on a question with an other-write-in field you'll likely want to use the text the respondent enters rather than the text of the option "Other."

Follow our instructions to ensure that the text entered into the other-write in field is used!

 When piping into a radio button question, if only one option was chosen, can it be automatically selected?

When piping answers from a checkbox question into a radio button question, if there's only one option selected from the checkbox, only that option will be piped into the radio button where the respondent will need to select it again.

If you want this answer to be automatically selected for your respondent, use this piece of JavaScript.

 How should I interpret the data that I am seeing when using piping?

Piped/repeated data can be many things; it can be answers that have been drawn from answers to a previous question, it can be a single question repeated dynamically based on answers to previous questions, and it can be a page repeated multiple times based on previous answers.

Piped data differs from other data recorded in Alchemer in that the questions and answer options that store the data are not built into the survey, but are instead generated dynamically on the survey while it is being taken. This presents a major difference in how the data is stored.

Learn how to interpret the data returned for each of the various piping/repeating options.

 The CSV/Excel Export of my piped/repeated data is a bit overwhelming, is there another way to see this data?

Yes! It's the Piped Data Export! The Piped Data Export is designed to export raw data from either question piped (including row piped tables) or page piped questions. Because question and page repeating repeats either the question or page based on the source question, CSV/Excel Exports of the raw data from surveys with question and page repeating can have an unmanageable number of columns. The Piped Data Export better handles this data by collating the questions from repeated questions and pages for each response.

For example, below is the data from a Piped Data Export. The export includes the source question and two follow-up questions that are repeated using page piping. You can see that each instance of the source question is collated for each Response ID.

Learn how you can take advantage of the Piped Data Export!

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