REDCap upgrade November 15 adds new features; expect downtime from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Published: November 1st, 2018

Category: News, redcap

On the evening of Thursday, November 15th, the CTS-IT will upgrade REDCap from version 8.6.4 to 8.8.2. You can expect a downtime for REDCap from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. while we complete the upgrade.

The entire REDCap system will be down so all users (including the REDCap Team) will be unable to access their projects during the downtime. As a backup, users may want to download copies of their project’s data collection forms from REDCap in case they need to collect data while the system is offline. This also means that participants will not be able to access and/or submit surveys while the system is offline so you may want to make participants aware of the downtime. If your project has surveys that are scheduled to go out via ‘Automated Survey Invitations’ during the downtime, they will be sent out when the system goes back online.

Note: You can get PDF copies of all your data collection forms on the Project Setup page (above the Online Designer button) or individual form(s) on the Online Designer page next to the data collection instrument’s name.

Once the system is back online, users will be emailed to let them know they can access REDCap again.

The new version of REDCap scheduled for release on November 15th, 2018 has some new features and several improvements to existing features, including:

New feature: PROMIS Batteries

15 batteries of instruments are now available in the REDCap Shared Library. A battery is a set of instruments that can be downloaded from the Shared Library as a bundle, in which they are meant to all be taken together one after another within a single battery. When downloading from the Shared Library, the survey auto-continue feature will be enabled for these instruments to allow a participant to automatically continue from one to another to simulate the battery functionality.

New options for Data Exports Improvement:

When exporting a report, a new “Data formatting options” section appears in the export dialog to allow users to choose the CSV delimiter character to be used in CSV Raw Data and CSV Labels exports. Options include comma (default), tab, semi-colon, pipe, and caret. This is useful in certain cases when the resulting data file needs to have another delimiter, such as a tab, for example. In addition, the two API methods “Export Records” and “Export Reports” have a new analogous parameter “csvDelimiter” that will set the CSV delimiter character if using “csv” as the format in the API request. See the API documentation for full details.

Improvement: When exporting a report, a new “Data formatting options” section appears in the export dialog to allow users to optionally force all numbers into a specified decimal format. It will default to “Use fields’ native decimal format”, but provides the choices “Use period/full stop” and “Use comma” as the decimal character for all numbers. This will allow projects that have fields with period/full stop decimals (calc fields, number validated fields) and those with comma decimals (comma-as-decimal validated fields) to all be exported in the same uniform number format, thus providing greater consistency in the data being exported. In addition, the two API methods “Export Records” and “Export Reports” have a new analogous parameter “decimalCharacter” that will set specified decimal format for all numbers in the API request. See the API documentation for full details.

Improvements related to viewing or creating reports:

  • New report option that will combine checkbox options into a single column of only the checked-off options. Previously, any checkbox fields in a report would have their choices represented as separate columns in the report, but with this new setting, they can now all be represented as a single column with comma-delimited values and comma-delimited labels. Note: If data is exported to a stats package on a report using this option, checkbox fields will be represented as text fields in the stats package’s syntax file that gets generated by REDCap.
  • Report description – Users may now optionally set a description for a report, in which the description gets displayed as text below the report title on the report page. This allows users to provide instructions or explanatory text for the report. Note: HTML may be used in the description to add links or to style the text.
  • Change: When exporting a report, it now includes the report’s title as part of the resulting export files’ file name. This should make it easier to distinguish different exported data sets if a user is exporting several reports for a given project.
  • Improvement: In previous versions, it was very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to create reports with lots of fields in projects that contained >1000 total fields. In some cases, it would cause the Create Report page to be very sluggish or even to crash in some cases. This should no longer happen, and users should be able to easily create reports with thousands of fields, if they wish, with no problem.

Additional improvements:

  • Improvement: A “Copy existing choices” link was added to the “Add Matrix of Fields” popup on the Online Designer page (just like the same link in the “Add New Field” popup on that same page) to copy the choices from an existing multiple choices field to that matrix of fields.
  • Improvement: New optional parameters added to the API Export Records method to filter data returned based on when a record was created or modified
    • dateRangeBegin – To return only records that have been created or modified *after* a given date/time, provide a timestamp in the format YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS (e.g., ‘2017-01-01 00:00:00’ for January 1, 2017 at midnight server time). If not specified, it will assume no begin time.
    • dateRangeEnd – To return only records that have been created or modified *before* a given date/time, provide a timestamp in the format YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS (e.g., ‘2017-01-01 00:00:00’ for January 1, 2017 at midnight server time). If not specified, it will use the current server time.
  • Improvement: The Record Status Dashboard will now remember the user’s last selection for the “page number” drop-down and the “records per page” drop-down, so that when they return to the dashboard in that project in the future, it will already have their last selections pre-selected for those two drop-downs. Note: It already remembers the user’s last selection for “dashboard displayed” and “data access group”.
  • Improvement: A project’s Record ID field can now be used as a Live Filter in any given report, thus allowing users to easily view the report for a single record.
  • Improvement: Under the “PDF Customization Options” section in the Additional Customizations popup on the Project Setup page, a new option has been added: “Display or hide the Secondary Unique Field value (if enabled) at the top right corner of the PDF”. This option will be useful, for example, when sending the PDF to a survey participant, in which the Secondary Unique Field value should not be known or viewable to the participant.

Additional changes:

  • Change/improvement: Elements on survey pages have been modified to work better for accessibility purposes, such as with screen readers.
  • Change: When exporting data in CSV format (raw data or labels) on the “My Reports & Exports” page, it now maintains all double quotes in free-form text, whereas previous versions would replace all double quotes with single quotes in a CSV export. Note: When exporting to stats packages, it will still replace double quotes with single quotes for compatibility purposes.
  • Change: When exporting a data dictionary, it will now automatically prepend the Field Annotation column with a single space character if the value begins with an “@” sign. This is to prevent issues when loading the data dictionary into Microsoft Excel, which uses “@” to denote the beginning of an equation. When the data dictionary is re-uploaded back into REDCap, the extra space will be subsequently removed to maintain the integrity of the initial value in the data dictionary as it was exported.
  • Change: When exporting data to SPSS, date and datetime fields are now represented as A500 and text fields as A1000 in the SPSS syntax file, whereas previously they were all represented as A30000, which could cause very slow processing when loading the data into SPSS.