Answer variables

Use and classify answers once they have been collected.

Every question that you ask of a user will result in a piece of data captured. To more reliably refer to the data, both in your own systems as well as within Formsort, each question's answer is given a variable name based on the question in which it is collected.

You should update these to something consistent that it not verbose but captures the semantic meaning of the information collected (for example, first_name is a better-named variable than just name since you may end up collecting multiple names in a flow).

Naming answer variables

Renaming

It's safe to rename answer variables within Formsort, any references like templated strings or conditions will stay intact within the flow.

Note that if you are sending data externally (through integrations or analytics), you will want to take care with renaming, since you may have downstream dependencies that depend on an answer name taking a specific value. For example, you may have configured an email service to use user_first_name within an email template, which Formsort cannot "see", so if you changed the variable name to first_name that email template would break.

See Publishing schemas for an approach on keeping your downstream dependencies safe by requiring forms to implement particular schemas.

Data types

You do not have to specify a data type for answers that come from questions: answer variables will have them set depending on which questions set them.

The data types are the javascript types:

Type

Examples

string

"Olivia"

"Some\nmulti-line\nstring"

number

5

3.14

boolean

true

false

object

{ city: "Brooklyn", state: "New York" }

Additionally, any of the answer data types can appear as an array, if using repeated questions, or with a select question that allows multiple selection.

Subtypes

Answers also have a subtype that is internal to Formsort, and is a higher-level type than the primitive data types listed above.

Subtype

Type

Example

email

string

"[email protected]"

date

string

"2019-01-11"

Dates are always formatted as ISO 8601.

Semantic meaning

Even more specific than the answer subtype is the semantic meaning. This provides a data classification in the real world for what an answer represents.

As a concrete example from the real estate field: you might collect a few different emails within a flow - the borrower's email, the real estate agent's email, and perhaps the borrower's husband or wife's email.

Tagging the answer keys with a data classification allows you and integrations to differentiate between them, even if the labels change.

Setting a semantic meaning of responder_email on an answer variable will result in:

  1. The answer is considered PII, and not sent by default to third-party integrations.

  2. When the answer is collected for the first time, the EmailCollected event will be fired, regardless of where in the flow that email was collected.

Available data classifications

Semantic meaning

Type (subtype)

Description

responder_email

string (email)

The responder's email

responder_first_name

string

The responder's first name

responder_last_name

string

The responder's last name

responder_marketing_consent

boolean

Whether the responder consents to marketing messages

responder_phone

string (phone)

The responder's phone number

responder_dob

string (date)

The responder's date of birth

responder_mailing_address

object (address)

The responder's mailing address

responder_other_pii

any

Generic personally-identifying information

We'd love to expand this list to the most meaningful data classifications, so chat us if you'd like us to add more.

Readable description

It's helpful to keep your answer variable names short and succinct, since you'll be using them throughout the flow. A variable like current_interest_rate_pct is perfect: it describes unambiguously what is stored there.

However, if you're making a dashboard which consumes form data, current_interest_rate_pct might not be enough for your colleagues to understand outside of the context of a particular flow. Neither would the label of the question, which might be something intended for responders, like What is your current interest rate, {{first_name}}?

For that reason, it's possible to set a Readable description on answer variable names. You can set these to text like "Borrower's current self-reported interest rate" more suitable for downstream consumers.

Webhook payloads can be set to include the descriptions, allowing downstream systems to access the descriptions when generating dashboards, reports, etc.

Other settings

Keep in URL if present on load

When a flow is loaded in Formsort, any URL parameters that match any answers defined in the flow will be placed into the answers and removed from the URL. To learn more about that, read about getting data in from URL parameters.

If you would like instead for an answer to remain in the URL, enable Keep in URL if present on load. This might be helpful if you are matching up campaigns on a URL string, and want to keep things like the utm_source consistent across pages.

Anything in the URL will most likely be recorded by any analytics scripts you include in the integrations, so avoid using this setting for personally-identifying information.

Storing answers in cookies

Another option is to store answers in cookies. In cases where you are collecting more sensitive information, this might be a better option, since you might not want to pass sensitive information unencrypted via URL. In order to do so, you can enable Read/Write in Cookie option.

Configuring a domain is required to store answers is in cookies.