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To ensure valid parsing output, it is necessary to follow strict format specifications when designing questionnaires. To date, conformance to questionnaire format remains untested, except for checks on opening/closing braces and a handful of exception-handling dialogues tagged with [WARN] or [ERR] in output streams.

1. Question, variable, label, format, and format modification

The number of questions is limited to 999.
In the text of the question, comment lines should be inserted as follows:

//  variable    label    format    modification

Comment lines should begin with  // and end with a paragraph-closing tag </p>
Variable name tags and label tags should not contain more than one space. Variable names should avoid using spaces, as common statistical software like SAS (R) request variable names without spaces.
Formats are specified as indicated in 1.1, Simple Mode , according to either C language conventions or SAS conventions.
With MS-Word, it is useful to separate comment line fields with tabulations (including between  // and the variable name). Alternatively to tabulations, separations can be made with style or layout tags (e.g.: <span style="font-weight: 700"> field </span>) for each of the four fields (variable, label, format, modification), as the main requirement is that these fields be separated with HTML tags.
No HTML formatting of the whole comment line should be made (italic, bold, color, etc). To fine-tune comment line format, use formatted questionnaires instead, with options like -K1, -K2 or -c.
Questionnaire designers should take care of issues that can arise when MS-Word automatic formatting options are activated. A good example is the string of characters  1st which can be automatically transformed, st being converted into an superscript index (e.g.:   1<sup>st</sup>). Automatic formatting options should be deactivated with MS-Word (and all equivalent software). In the case of 1st, the string "st" can be erroneously parsed as a variable label if automatic editing is unnoticed.
More generally, every formatting operation on comment lines separates two fields with tags; any HTML tag can therefore be used to separate comment line fields.

2. Questions should start with any number and be followed by a dot.

Write accordingly:

1.Question or 1. Question


1- Question

nor: 1 . Question, or: 1 Question
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3. Table cells must be HTML tables, whatever their border style.

As a consequence, it is necessary not to use HTML tables in the questionnaire in other contexts than variable data fields. 

4. Closed questions must start with a diacritic character.

Character '-' is the default character for closed questions; two others can be specified at compiling stage. '*' is reserved by a compiling option in the project (and binaries) provided with the distribution. 
For a yes/no question, usage is as follows:

- Are you satisfied with your working conditions?

    Yes   1
    No    2

For a multiple choice question, usage is similar, for example:

* Note your working conditions from 1 to  5  :    1 2 3 4 5

One single space should follow the diacritic character before the question's text.
Diacritic characters are only reserved for this usage when they immediately follow a closing HTML tag (i.e. right after a '>' character, for example <p>- ). 
To facilitate yes/no question layout, the diacritic hyphen '-' is not counted as introducing a new closed question if it is followed by a space and a negation  (Non in French, No in English). This exception makes it possible to count just one character for the data field format of the following question:

(question text)

- Yes     1
- No      2

The format for all closed questions is  %s (or $1.).

5. Checkboxes must be either standard HTML checkboxes or Microsoft Word "FORMCHECKBOX" fields.

With Word, checkboxes are indicated by tag FORMCHECKBOX. Checkbox identifiers are given by the string CODE_CHECKBOX_STANDARD, defined in constants.h, which can possibly be modified to locate other types of boxes. If this identifier is followed by 0, the box is not checked; if followed by 1, it is. To ensure that checkboxes of this type only are used in the questionnaire, the following steps should be taken:

-  preparing the layout:

    a) Menu | Tool bars | Forms,
    b) Insert a checkbox,
    c) Right-click on the checkbox of choice,
        Erase all fields other than those of Default values;

- for people surveyed to check a box (this should be outlined in instructions for use):

    a) Right-click on the question's checkbox,
    b) Check "Activate checkbox",
    c) Validate.

This procedure is more constraining than the simple fact of checking boxes on an MS-Word proprietary "form". Comparative tests have shown that despite the extra workload for people surveyed, the three right clicks required to get a box checked avoid a number of unintentional positive replies.

With standard HTML authoring software (like NVU/KOMPOZER), checkboxes correspond to the following tags:

- for unchecked boxes:

<... type="checkbox" ...>

- for checked boxes:

<...checked="checked"  ...type="checkbox">  

To check/uncheck a case with NVU/KOMPOZER use the menu:

     format | questionnaire Field Properties | Field Type: Check Box   Field Settings: Initially checked (check or uncheck this box)

Questionnaires created with NVU/KOMPOZER can be edited with MS-Word. In this case it suffices to check the box onscreen and save the document in HTML (.htm) format. The following strings are introduced by Word within HTML tags for checked boxes:

      TYPE="checkbox" CHECKED

These strings are detected by IDSS.

6. It is advised to end the questionnaire with an empty paragraph (<p> </p>).
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