Why surveyor?

Surveyor is a developer tool to deliver surveys in Rails applications. Surveys are written in the surveyor DSL (Domain Specific Language). A DSL makes it significantly easier to import long surveys (one of the motivations for building surveyor was copy/paste fatigue). It enables non-programmers to write out, edit, and review surveys.

If your Rails app needs to asks users questions as part of a survey, quiz, or questionnaire then you should consider using surveyor. This gem was designed to deliver clinical research surveys to large populations, but it can be used for any type of survey.

Surveyor is a Rails engine distributed as a ruby gem, meaning it is straightforward to override or extend its behaviors in your Rails app without maintaining a fork.


Surveyor works with:

  • Ruby 1.8.7, 1.9.2, and 1.9.3
  • Rails 3.1-3.2

Some key dependencies are:

  • HAML
  • Sass
  • Formtastic

A more exhaustive list can be found in the gemspec.


Add surveyor to your Gemfile:

gem "surveyor"

Bundle, install, and migrate:

bundle install
script/rails generate surveyor:install
bundle exec rake db:migrate

Parse the "kitchen sink" survey (kitchen sink means almost everything)

bundle exec rake surveyor FILE=surveys/kitchen_sink_survey.rb

Start up your app, visit /surveys, compare what you see to kitchen_sink_survey.rb and try responding to the survey.

Customize surveyor

Surveyor's controller, helper, models, and views may be overridden by classes in your app folder. To generate a sample custom controller and layout run:

script/rails generate surveyor:custom

and read surveys/EXTENDING\_SURVEYOR


To get the latest version of surveyor, bundle, install and migrate:

bundle update surveyor
script/rails generate surveyor:install
bundle exec rake db:migrate

and review the changelog for changes that may affect your customizations.

Users of spork

There is an issue with spork and custom inputs in formatstic (#851). A workaround (thanks rmm5t!):

Spork.prefork do
  # ...
  surveyor_path = Gem.loaded_specs['surveyor'].full_gem_path
  Dir["#{surveyor_path}/app/inputs/*_input.rb"].each { |f| require File.basename(f) }
  # ...

Follow master

If you are following pre-release versions of surveyor using a :git source in your Gemfile, be particularly careful about reviewing migrations after updating surveyor and re-running the generator. We will never change a migration between two released versions of surveyor. However, we may on rare occasions change a migration which has been merged into master. When this happens, you'll need to assess the differences and decide on an appropriate course of action for your app. If you aren't sure what this means, we do not recommend that you deploy an app that's locked to surveyor master into production.


For general discussion (e.g., "how do I do this?"), please send a message to the surveyor-dev group. This group is moderated to keep out spam; don't be surprised if your message isn't posted immediately.

For reproducible bugs, please file an issue on the GitHub issue tracker. Please include a minimal test case (a detailed description of how to trigger the bug in a clean rails application). If you aren't sure how to isolate the bug, send a message to surveyor-dev with what you know and we'll try to help.

For build status see our continuous integration page.

Take a look at our screencast (a bit dated now).

Contribute, test

To work on the code, fork this github project. Install bundler if you don't have it, then bundle, generate the app in testbed, and run the specs and features

$ bundle update
$ bundle exec rake testbed
$ bundle exec rake spec
$ bundle exec rake cucumber


Some of surveyor's integration tests use Selenium WebDriver and Capybara. The WebDriver-based tests default to running in Chrome due to an unfortunate Firefox bug. For them to run, you'll either need:

  • Chrome and chromedriver installed, or
  • to switch to use Firefox instead

To use Firefox instead of Chrome, invoke one or more features with SELENIUM_BROWSER set in the environment:

$ SELENIUM_BROWSER=firefox bundle exec rake cucumber
$ SELENIUM_BROWSER=firefox bundle exec cucumber features/ajax_submissions.feature

Note that when running features in Firefox, you must allow the WebDriver-driven Firefox to retain focus, otherwise some tests will fail.

Copyright (c) 2008-2013 Brian Chamberlain and Mark Yoon, released under the MIT license