External Fields

External fields allows you to pull in data from external data sources, such as a spreadsheet. You can read data from an external data source and pull it back into Survey Anyplace.

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What can the external fields feature be used for?

  • To read data from an external data source, for example, cell values from a Google Sheet
  • Use these values in variable data in the PDF report or in the formulas using all responses. For example, to calculate a score on the outcome screen, if the respondent scored 5/10 in a particular survey category, you can match that score against an external data value of 7 which is the benchmark score set for that category.
  • A more advanced use would be to use the Google sheet as a bi-directional database, whereby the same survey will also send data to the Google Sheet. This would allow the benchmark cell value referenced to be adjusted automatically as new responses are received.

1 Add External Fields

Click on the 3 dots at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Select External Fields.

External fields button

Click the left-hand button Add field and you'll see the following sections to complete:

External fields options 

  1. Name - Type the name that you want to call the external field. This is the name that will be given to the variable, so choose a name that will allow you to easily recall what the field refers to.
  2. Type - Here's where you can choose the data source. You have 3 options, which we'll discuss below.
  3. Data freshness - choose how often you want to refresh the data. Bear in mind that more frequent updates may slow performance.

Now let's see how to configure the data source. You'll have different options depending on the type of data that you selected as your source.

  1. Plain
  2. Spreadsheet
  3. Custom API

1.1 Plain

You simply need to enter a hard-coded value.

1.2 Google Spreadsheet

The Google Spreadsheets type allows you to pull data from your Google Sheets, and/or into your Google Sheets. Read our Example of creating Google Spreadsheet fields to see a more detailed step-by-step guide.

Google Sheet - data source configuration

  1. Spreadsheet ID - The value between the "/d/" and the "/edit" in the Spreadsheet URL.Spreadsheet ID
  2. Cell - Enter the cell or range of cells where the value should be extracted from. First, enter the sheet name, followed by an exclamation point (!). Then, enter the cell names, putting a colon (:) in between your cell names.Cell name example


Don't forget to share the spreadsheet with the user sheets@sa-api-prod.iam.gserviceaccount.com

Tip: You can use the Google Sheets Integration to push the responses to a Google Sheet.

Sheet values

  1. Filter Sheet Values - this feature will check for similar values in the column and then return a comma delimited text for any matches. Make sure to specify the range of cells for the filter.
  2. Compare Sheet Values - this feature will look for conditions in the first column and return the value of the second column if the condition is true. Possible conditions are smaller than (<), between (-), and greater than (>) on your Sheets. Make sure to specify the range of cells for the filter. 

You can enable filter sheet values or compare sheet values, although only one of these features can be enabled at once.


Once you enable the filter sheet or compare sheet values, the maximum row number, you can pull data from in Google Spreadsheets is 1000

1.3 Custom API

This uses the JSON output. Add the API endpoint and the JSON path.

External fields custom api

Once you've set up the data configuration settings, you can run a test to check the data connection and see that the results are as expected. Make sure that the latest changes are saved.

Once you're all set, click Create field to save all your external field settings.

External fields - create fields

If you want more than one external field, click Add field and repeat the process outlined above, adding as many external fields as you require.

Vincent is the author of this solution article.

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