This page should address some common questions about form completion versus form submission times in CommCare.

What is the difference between Form Completion and Form Submission?

Each form submitted to CommCareHQ has three date-time stamps:

The main issue addressed here is the difference between the last two, and deciding which one you should use when viewing reports.

Why would Form Completion and Form Submission be different?

If you are working in an area with very good connectivity, and if the phone time is correct, then Form Completion and Form Submission time will be almost the same. That is, the form will be marked as complete and then immediately sent to the server.

However, sometimes the form completion and submission times may be quite far apart.  There are a couple of reasons that they could be different:

How do I know if they are different?

You can look at the CommCareHQ report "Form Completion vs Submission Trends" or look at the data in a form export.

Which one should I use?

It depends upon the situation in your project. In general, if user's phones are set by the network and tend to be correct, it may be more reliable to use the Form Completion time, especially if mobile users are in an area with poor connectivity. If, for example, a worker fills out 25 forms over the course of a month, but if they have to go somewhere at the end of the month to submit all of them, the submission data will not be reflect the user's actual pattern of form completion. If, however, your project is in an area with very good connectivity, it may be generally easier to use Form Submission.

To get a sense of whether there is a big difference between form completion and submission in your project, go to the reports tab and choose the "Form Completion vs Submission Trends" report.

 

Does this report use Form Completion or Form Submission times?

Report or Page NameForm Completion, Submission, or Either (user-configurable)
Worker Activity ReportForm Completion
Daily Form ActivityEither
Submissions by FormSubmission
Case ActivityForm Completion
Form Completion vs. Submission TrendsSubmission
Worker Activity TimesEither
Submit HistoryEither
Application StatusSubmission
Form ExportSubmission

 

Timezones

A CommCare work space's time settings can be configured in the project settings, or at the time of creating a new project.

Most reports will be displayed in the timezone that is selected in the project settings.

Currently CommCareHQ strips all timezone information from all dates in forms. As a result CommCareHQ assumes in reports that dates which come from the phone (such as form completion time) are already in the project's timezone, whereas dates that come from the server (such as submission time) are in the server timezone. 

This leads to discrepancies when you submit from a device that is actually not in the project timezone (including all submissions on cloudcare or case importer, or reassign cases).
CommCareHQ does not do the time shifting in the exports, so data from phones that shows up in the exports will also look offset from the server data. In exports, data from the phone is in the phone's timezone, whereas data from the server such as submission date is in UTC.

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