Server Installation

April 5, 2021

Installation has following steps:

  1. Installing PostgreSQL
  2. Installing SurveySolutions
  3. Post installation configuration

Installing PostgreSQL

Make sure that you have an installed and running instance of PostgreSQL before running SurveySolutions.exe

You can download PostgreSQL from here and run the setup. Pick the latest stable version (note: Survey Solutions will not work with PostgreSQL prior to version 10.0).

During the process you’ll set the password for the database superuser:

📷 PostgreSQL password

Postgres password


and the port, on which the PostgreSQL server will be running:

📷 PostgreSQL port

Postgres port


After the installation is complete, follow the instructions for tuning PostgreSQL for production use

By default, PostgreSQL is set up to allow connections from the same server only. If you are going to install Survey Solutions on the same server, you don’t need to change this default. However if you are splitting the database and the web application into two separate servers (may be advisable for larger-scale operations when administration and maintenance of the database is better by its own) you have to explicitly allow connections from external server to reach your PostgreSQL database. This is done by modifying pg_hba.config file and adding ip address of the webserver, which will run Survey Solutions. Please take a look at the documentation for further details.

Installing Survey Solutions

Download the Survey Solutions installer

Run SurveySolutions.exe. It will ask you for two parameters: install location and PostgreSQL connection parameters.

For the install location – choose any or keep the default (C:\Survey Solutions\)

📷 Survey Solutions location

Survey Solutions location


For PostgreSQL connection parameters (default values will be already there) specify the port and password you’ve chosen when setting up the PostgreSQL earlier:

📷 Survey Solutions database connection

Survey Solutions database connection


That’s it. At the end, finish installation page will automatically open in your browser where you’ll be able to create administrator user for Survey Solutions Headquarters application. The link to the site will be automatically added to your start menu, but you can always access it by directly typing the address in the browser’s address bar.

In order to check if the application is running correctly you can open http://localhost:9700/.hc URL. It should output Healthy message.

Post installation configuration

The post-installation configuration involves the following:

Adjusting the site bindings

By default, Survey Solutions is installed as a web application and runs behind the IIS web server using port 9700. A custom port is used to avoid potential conflicts with existing web applications you may already be running on the same server. Also, most firewalls will block custom ports by default and this will help you in protecting your data by not exposing your application to external networks/Internet unintentionally.

Accessing your application via localhost only works from the same computer, in order to connect to it from a different machine or an Android tablet, you have to use (and know) your server’s ip address.

One option to find the computer’s ip address information is using ipconfig. To access it, right click on start menu, select run option and execute ipconfig /all command.

📷 Finding ip address

Finding ip address


/all option is used in case your server has multiple network interfaces.

Once you locate the appropriate address, you can access your server from any other device (connected to the same network) by typing http://server_ip_address:9700/ in the browser. For our example, the address would look like this: http://192.168.136.128:9700/

You can now change the port 9700 to 80 in the IIS configuration manager. To access it right click on start menu, select run option and execute the inetmgr command.

In the IIS Manager you will find the Survey Solutions application:

📷 Survey Solutions in IIS Manager

Survey Solutions in IIS Manager


If you click on the Bindings... link in the right panel you will be able to add or modify ports that application listens to, such as 80 for HTTP, or 443 for HTTPS (see below).

Now you can ommit the custom port number when accessing the server - http://192.168.136.128/.

Remembering and always typing ip address to connect to the server is still not the best and convinient approach. You could instead attach a domain name to your server, which would simplify work considerably. Moreover, in order to be able to use ssl encryption, you must have a domain name attached to the web application.

Obtaining a domain name for the specific purpose of running one application will depend on the way you’d like it to be accessed by your team and the users. If you would like to get a sub-domain (third-level, forth-level, etc, domain) under an existing domain name (for example, your organization already operates http://www.coolcompany.com address and you want to add http://survey.coolcompany.com) it may be as easy as contacting the right person/team who manages the main address and ask them to issue the sub-domain for you.

But if you instead prefer to have a dedicated, second-level domain name, like http://mycoolsurveys.com address, you will need to first buy and register the new address. There are many companies who provide global, or country-specific domain registration services, some of them offering free or discounted options, so finding an appropriate solution for your need would involve little searching.

SSL certificate

If your Survey Solutions instance is exposed to the public in the Internet, it is highly recommended to setup SSL encryption for web server by applying an SSL certificate.

The configuration depends on the certificate provider that you choose, so refer to their documentation on how to setup IIS.

Firewall rules

To permit communication of Survey Solutions with the Designer and other utilized services you may need to enable certain ports or types of communication as listed below. The instructions vary by type of the security software used. See #3 in the FAQ for IT for common security software instructions.

  • allow incoming connections to the port that you’ve set up the server binding of Survey Solutions;
  • allow outgoing connections to the Designer site: https://designer.mysurvey.solutions;
  • allow outgoing connections to the Survey Solutions site: https://mysurvey.solutions.

In addition expect the client (browser) to

  • send queries to the Maps server being used: typically https://maps.googleapis.com and https://google.com (or see here for alternative settings for China);
  • send queries to the CAPTCHA server being used (if it is used): https://www.google.com and https://www.gstatic.com

Survey Solutions operates with HTTP/HTTPS requests that may be rather large (multiple MB). Your server must be configured to receive and process such queries (rather than block them). This may necessitate additional WAF configuration. If this is not permitted, the interviewers may not be able to synchronize their tablets.

Load balancer

If you are using a load balancer, please make sure that it is configured to use:

  • sticky sessions, and
  • web sockets.

If this is not satisfied, web interviews will not work resulting in errors for the respondents (this may not be immediately obvious to the person setting up the Survey Solutions server).

Survey Solutions application configuration

Open the /Site folder where Survey Solutions is installed, and open appsettings.Production.ini file. This file will not be replaced during application upgrades and will retain your local server configuration.

📷 Survey Solutions configuration file

Survey Solutions configuration file


Base URL

If your server has domain name you need to change BaseUrl value to the name you have (without trailing slash at the end of the URL). Make sure that this URL can be used to open Survey Solutions app from server where application is installed, otherwise export won’t work.

Example of an ini-file with configured base URL:

[Headquarters]
BaseUrl=https://demo.mysurvey.solutions

Captcha

A captcha is used to safeguard the application from brute force attacks on user accounts and for protection of web mode from automatic creation of interviews.

Survey Solutions may utilize a built-in (hosted) implementation of captcha (default) or an external reCAPTCHA provided by Google (to be configured as per instructions below).

To take advantage of the more secure reCAPTCHA implementation by Google, you need to set it up in the Google reCAPTCHA admin and record the 2 issued keys into your configuration file.

  • Navigate to creation page to register a new captcha. Click on the ℹī¸-icons will give you helpful hints on how to fill out that form.
  • Specify your public DNS name that is configured in Survey Solutions BaseUrl property for the site name.
  • When selecting the reCAPTCHA type, select version 2 ("reCAPTCHA v2").
  • You can specify additional emails to receive notifications on problems or increase in suspicious traffic (alerts are issued by Google).

After you click the Submit button you will see a page where you can copy the necessary site key and secret key. Then add the following content into your appsettings.Production.ini file:

[Captcha]
CaptchaType=Recaptcha
SecretKey=%Your secret key%
SiteKey=%Your site key%
Version=v2

Google maps

If you are using a GPS question you should change Google maps API key. After creating it in the console, add it to the appsettings.Production.ini configuration file:

[GoogleMap]
ApiKey=%Your API key%

when not configured properly you will see error ReferenceError: google is not defined on the map report page:

📷 Survey Solutions maps error

Survey Solutions maps error


GeoTIFF files support

If you are using GIS functionality and plan using TIFF files as maps, then you need to install the GDAL library. The simplest way to do it (on Windows) is to use the OSGeo4W project: download installer from their web site and install only “GDAL”.

Survey Solutions will try to locate and make use of the GDAL libraries at the default installation path: C:\OSGeo4W64\bin\. If you’ve installed it to another folder then add the following configuration to your appsettings.Production.ini file:

[Geospatial]
GdalHome=%Path to bin where GDAL is intalled%

If this step is not performed, the users of this Survey Solutions instance will not be able to upload maps in GeoTIFF format to the HQ. They will still be able to upload maps in other accepted formats.