Case Study: The US Census Bureau tackles Forms Definition with enhanced GUI


The US Census Bureau develops and manages data capture systems for all national census programs. There are more than 300 different types of questionnaires/forms that are processed into digital format. In order for the system to properly process each form, they must be defined and registered within the system. This process is called Forms Definition and is critical for production efficiency and success.



The US Census Bureau develops and manages data capture systems for all national census programs. There are more than 300 different types of questionnaires/forms that are processed into digital format. In order for the system to properly process each form, they must be defined and registered within the system. This process is called Forms Definition and is critical for production efficiency and success.

Forms definition is a multi-part process that consists of creating several large .xml files, jpeg images, tiff images, et al. Several tools were in place to facilitate this process, however, it was taking approximately 6 man-days per form and was still prone to many errors.

To improve the forms definition process, Evolver created an enhanced GUI application (retiring several tools used) in order to decrease the amount of time needed to define a form and decrease the error rate and associated rework. 

Time spent defining forms was decreased by the ability to:

  • Automate previously manual processes
  • Edit multiple fields within a form at once
  • Copy & paste fields between forms
  • Introduce the concept of filed templates – templates that can be applied to similar fields across forms
  • Add find and replace functionality to the application

This resulted in decreased errors by:

  • Including a “build” process that checks for common errors
  • Increasing error handling within the application
  • Introducing a wizard process to guide the developer through form definition

Using the new process, forms definition was reduced by 67% to 2 days, and the ability to define similar forms in different languages was reduced to a few hours. A wizard-like interface written in C sharp (C#) was added to allow “non-developers” to define forms, thereby allowing entry level personnel to be hired to perform this task.

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