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How to Build a Data Collection System (Fast & Easy)

Ryan Forrester
Jul 5th, 2024

Build a Data Collection System in 3 Easy Steps

In this guide, we outline the steps necessary to build and launch a data collection system using Five’s rapid application development environment.

The process involves:

  1. Creating the database
  2. Adding the form
  3. Launching the web form

We will also cover securing the web form with logins, authentication, and permissions.

What is a Data Collection System?

A data collection system is an interface used to gather, store, manage, and analyze data. These systems capture relevant information that can be used for decision-making, research, analysis, and reporting. Data collection systems can vary in complexity, from simple web forms to sophisticated software integrated with databases and analytics tools.

Key Components of a Data Collection System

  • Web Forms: Online forms that users fill out to submit information.
  • Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB that store collected data in an organized manner.
  • Data Security: Protecting data from unauthorized access and breaches.
  • Analytics Tools: Software that allows users to query the database, generate reports, and visualize data.
  • Dashboards: Interactive interfaces that provide real-time insights and trends.

Building a Data Collection System with Five

Creating a data collection system in Five offers a multitude of advantages over traditional form builders, making it ideal for those who need robust, secure, and analyzable data.

One of the standout features of Five is the ability to create login-protected forms. This ensures that only authorized users can access and submit data, enhancing the security of your data collection system. Traditional form builders often lack these advanced security features, leaving your data vulnerable to unauthorized access.

Unlike traditional form builders, which only store submitted data. Five allows you to directly connect your data collection to a database. This allows you to query your database and generate visual representations of your data, making it easier to identify trends, patterns, and correlations. Most traditional form builders usually require exporting data to third-party tools for analysis, adding extra steps and potential for errors.

Data collection systems built with Five are designed for professional-grade data collection, making it ideal for extensive surveys, research projects, or feedback analysis. Five’s advanced features ensure that data collection is not only secure but also systematic and scalable.

Step 1: Database For Your Data Collection System

Build a Data Collection System
Check out Five's online data collection

To begin, get free access to Five and start a new application by navigating to Applications and clicking the yellow plus button.

Start by creating a database to store the collected data.

  • Create a New Application
    • Click the yellow plus button.
    • Name your application (e.g., My First App or Data Collection Form).
    • Confirm by clicking the check icon in the upper right corner.
    • Click on the blue Manage button to enter the development environment.
  • Create Database Tables
    • Go to Data > Table Wizard, a point-and-click interface for creating database tables.
    • Name your table descriptively (e.g., Recipes for a recipe collection form).
    • Add fields to your table using the plus button, specifying the data types (e.g., text, integer, float).

Remember to choose appropriate data and display types to ensure your data is stored and displayed correctly. For example, use Float.2 for prices with two decimal places.

Save your table by clicking the check icon in the upper right corner. Your MySQL database table is now ready to store data.

Step 2: Designing the Data Collection Form

Next, navigate to Visual > Form Wizard in Five.

  1. Select Data Source
    • In the Form Wizard’s General section, select the database table you created as the main data source.
    • This links your backend (database) with your frontend (form).
  2. Create the Form
    • Click the check icon in the upper right corner to finalize the form creation.

Your form is now complete and connected to your database.

Step 3: Deploying the Form

To deploy your form:

  • Deploy to Development
    • Click the “Deploy to Development” button in the top right corner. This opens your app in a new browser tab.

Your prototype web form is now live. To enhance it, consider adding themes or additional features.

Securing Your Data Collection Form: Logins, Authentication, Permissions

Five’s form creator allows you to quickly build secure online forms with user roles and permissions.

  • Add User Roles and Logins
    • Turn your application into a multi-user app, automatically adding a login screen.
    • Create user roles with specific permissions. For instance, one role can submit forms while another can view a dashboard summarizing form responses.

Explore Five’s documentation for more detailed instructions on securing your data collection system.

Conclusion: Building a Secure Data Collection System

Building a data collection system with Five’s rapid application development environment offers numerous advantages over traditional form builders. The process involves three key steps: creating the database, designing the form, and launching the web form. Five provides security features, including login protection, authentication, and permissions, ensuring that your data collection system is secure and only accessible to authorized users.

By using Five, you can directly connect your data collection to a database, enabling efficient data management and real-time analysis through custom charts and visual representations. This capability allows you to easily identify trends, patterns, and correlations, which is often cumbersome and error-prone with traditional form builders that require exporting data to third-party tools.

With Five, you can improve your data collection process, improve data security, and use analytical tools to gain insights, making it the superior choice for building a comprehensive and efficient data collection system.

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