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Rapid Development for RFPs

Markdown RFP Questionnaire Builder

Can we make building an RFP survey more fun and more productive?

Software developers have been using wiki style markup languages for a long time (such as is used to edit Wikipedia). These are just text files where specific characters indicate a change of output formatting. For example, in Markdown (a popular dialect), the text "## A Heading" would create:

A Heading

Developers value these tools because they are highly productive. You can just type to create a document, without searching with a mouse to find how to set the style for a bullet list or italic text style. 

Creating complex questionnaires for an RFP is a difficult and time consuming process, so we are constantly on the lookout for ideas to make the process easier. Reflecting on how developers use Markdown we've created a few extensions to the language that enable it to describe and produce a questionnaire structure. So far this is experimental, but we've put a (very rough) prototype up for early feedback. 

It's a super simple UI. On the left hand side is a text editor that understands Markdown text. On the right hand side is the questionnaire produced by processing that text. The questionnaire updates automatically as you type.

The rather ugly text links at the top will insert the text necessary to create the various form fields. You can then just edit the inserted text. The new question below was created by clicking 'New Question', then 'Checkboxes' and finally 'Multiline Text Input':

After 5 minutes of typing and experimenting we've found that you can create a questionnaire as easily as typing an email. Of course when you're finished you'll be able to do final editing with the existing UI tools, for task such s defining input masks on text fields, or uploading attachments to associate with questions.

This is a very rough prototype, and is probably incompatible with various browsers. However we thought it would be good to get some early feedback. So give it a go and let us know what you think. Should we continue developing this and integrate it into the product?

Give it a try and let us know: