Cross Survey Views Overview

A Cross Survey View provides a means of querying similar questions across multiple surveys. For example, an organization has fielded four surveys over the past year, covering four different topics. All of the surveys, however, asked participants for their age. It is desired to get a broad overview of the ages of everyone who has responded to the surveys.


To do this, a cross survey view can be created with a question called AGE, and then “map” the AGE question on the virtual survey to the questions about age on each of the four surveys fielded. When a cross survey variable is mapped to a question on an actual survey, it is telling Illume to include results from that question whenever with every query on that variable.

In the diagram below, the cross survey question AGE is mapped to four questions on four different surveys.


Once this cross survey view is saved, it will appear in the list of Cross Survey Views in the Data Manager, and can be queried just like any other survey.


When querying a cross survey view, the results for each variable come from all of the questions to which the variable is mapped. Querying on the AGE variable in the diagram above returns 7000 results:

  • 500 from the AGE question on Survey 1
  • 2000 from the AGE question on Survey 2
  • 1500 from the YEARS question on Survey 3, and
  • 3000 from the HOW_OLD question on Survey 4


Note that when mapping cross survey variables, differences in question prompts and ids do not matter. All that matters is that the questions share the same general data type. That is, all the questions to which a variable maps must be numeric; or they must all be true/false; or they must all be text questions. Illume prevents mixing data types because it is impossible to construct meaningful and reliable queries against inconsistent data types.

Cross Survey Views in the Project Page

Like normal surveys, cross survey views belong to projects. They are listed under the Cross Survey Views tab of the project page of the project to which they belong.

  • The Cross Survey Views list contains all of the cross survey views in the current project.
  • You can edit only those cross survey views that you created. These surveys have the Edit link next to their names in the list of Cross Survey Views.

Cross Survey View Creation Process

The process of creating a cross survey view consists of these steps:

  1. Create and name the new cross survey view.
  2. Add a survey to the view.
  3. Add any number of variables from the survey.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the cross survey view includes all of the questions from all of the surveys to query.
  5. Enable the virtual survey, marking it as “shared” to allow others to query it.

Differences Between Cross Survey Views and Actual Surveys

Cross survey views appear and behave just like actual surveys in the Data Manager. However, they have a few qualities that distinguish them from actual surveys.

  • Cross survey views have an owner. Whoever creates the cross survey view owns it and, unless this person checks the shared option on the cross survey view page, no one else can query the view. The view owner is the only person who can edit it (i.e., add, remove, or change the variables).
  • Cross survey views exist in draft form until they are enabled. It is possible to add, remove, and edit items on the draft copy of a view. But until enabled, no one else can see it or query it.
  • A cross survey view becomes available for querying as soon as it is enabled. Note that, for cross survey views, enabling simply means making the view available for querying. Enabling does not make the view available to participants or the general public.
  • Cross survey views cannot be manipulated with the Survey Designer. They exist only in the Data Manager to provide a means for querying data across multiple surveys.
  • Cross survey views can be edited, re-published, and deleted. Deleting a cross survey view does not affect the underlying data belonging to the component surveys. Nothing done on a cross survey view can alter the data belonging to the component surveys.