ODK Central Beta v0.6

Central betas are an opportunity to get community feedback on ongoing work, so check out the introduction and follow the instructions to try it out on our sandbox or your own machine!

Note: if you are using Briefcase with Central, you should wait until Briefcase 1.17 is out in a couple of weeks before upgrading to v0.6, due to minor changes in the authentication systems.

Server Audit Logs

New to Central v0.6 are Server Audit Logs. These track administrative actions performed on your Central server: new users, role changes, form creation and deletion, and more. You can access these under the System tab at the top of Central. We have already been logging some (but not all) of the audit log actions for a while now, so you may even see entries in there already.

To learn more about Server Audit Logs, including the list of actions we track, please take a look at this article.

Encryption

We now support Form Encryption. If you already use encryption with Aggregate today, you should be able to use exactly the same methodology with Central, including the use of Briefcase for data decryption and extraction.

But, Central also supports a new way to manage your encryption: Project Managed Encryption. For those of you who wanted to use encryption previously but found the procedure challenging, and for those of you who are unsure about how to secure the encryption keys you have to generate to use Aggregate's encryption, Project Managed Encryption is a far easier path to encrypted forms. You don't even have to use Briefcase!

With Project Managed Encryption, Central will generate and secure your encryption keys for you. They will be locked behind a passphrase that you give it: without the passphrase, the stored encryption keys are useless, and Central never stores your passphrase anywhere. To enable Project Managed Encryption, go to the Settings page on your Project and choose a secure passphrase. To retrieve your data, click on the Download data button as usual, and you will now be asked for your passphrase. You will get your data back in a zip file. That's all there is to it.

Encryption is definitely not for everybody. Central operates over HTTPS and so it should be secure for most purposes by default. If you turn encryption on, you will lose access to encrypted records over the OData feed, and if you use the old Aggregate self-supplied key method Central cannot help you decrypt your data. As of v0.6, once you enable encryption on a project you will not be able to turn it off again.

For more information and a step-by-step guide about form encryption in Central, please read this page.

Other Highlights

Thanks in part to feedback from our users and contributions from community developers, we have made the following improvements:

  • We have integrated instructions for using the free and popular R statistics application with Central OData, using the ruODK library and documentation created by @Florian_May.
  • Improvements to the OData feed: fixing some broken cases with weird field names (#199, reported by @stephen_k_ojwang), and adding accuracy information to geographic points (#213, suggestion by @Florian_May).
  • We now detect expected form attachments implied by simple uses of the search() appearance (#221, requested by @saif2khan).

As always, we have updated our User Documentation and Developer/API Documentation for the latest changes. More notes about changes to the API for v0.6 can be found in the Changelog, which lists additions, breaking changes, and other things of note for each major release.

Final Notes

For a longer term roadmap, read what's coming in Central over the next few years. For what's coming in our next release, see Central v0.7. We would love to hear your thoughts if you have any.

We encourage you to try Central and put your feedback in a comment below :point_down: We are particularly interested in answers to the following questions.

  1. What, if anything, was confusing?
  2. What missing feature is preventing you from using this for your next project?
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