Client Intake Form Automation - iPad

Current Situation

Part of my job is to do psychological assessments during which I have to ask a lot of different questions. Many of the client responses are similar. Thus, I have predefined answers and some require me to fill-in the text. I do all of this on a Mac.

I used to use TextExpander for this job. However, I stopped paying for TE subscription as the developers have added nothing useful over the past two years. As I was searching for a replacement, I discovered Typinator. This app is excellent. My main complaint is that there is currently no font size control option and the user prompt with fill-in text areas are too small. After about 90 minutes of intake, I get an eye strain. Nevertheless, I use Ulysses + Typinator for my intake workflow with clients.

I also administer a few pair based tests. I used to print them out and then scan them but nowadays I have them on my iPad. The clients use Apple Pencil to complete all of the paper tests and forms on the iPad.

Desired State

My current workflow works. However, it is annoying to take Mac and iPad with me everywhere I go. Thus, here is the question - can this be done on the iPad?


I want to stay away from TextExpander as is does not bring value to my workflow. The text entry within TE iOS app is clunky and all of the apps that support TE do not support fill-in prompts.

Editorial is perhaps the best app out there that gets close to what I would need to move from Mac to iOS. Unfortunately, it has not been updated in over a year and the developer is not responsive at all. Moreover, it does not support iCloud file sync.

Drafts 5 has some interesting potential but there is currently no way to enter a keyboard abbreviation (rep.mood) to have the prompt actions activated.

The only thing that I can think of right now is to create a PDF questioner with pre-defined answers to common questions and blank areas for longer answers. I would then sit down and copy the data from the PDF file into text using Ulysses and Typinator. This does look kind of redundant.

Any other ideas?

1 Like

Perhaps build yourself a form in Airtable and use their iOS app to enter the data?


Airtable is a good suggestion - or have a look at that small forgotten part of Apple itself, FileMaker!


I would also suggest a database solution, seems to me more robust and flexible for such a task than fiddling with Drafts actions/prompts. Airtable is an attractive option, free to experiment with. On the other hand, your data live in their (secured) cloud.
Filemaker could definitely handle this job, but the entry price is higher than Airtable - you would have to buy the app or get somebody to build you a custom solution.

A few thoughts:

  • Response may change based on whether you are asking the questions, or whether the participant is answering on a device.
  • Guided access might be handy to limit the participant to a single screen, parts of the screen, etc.
  • You might use something like Survey Monkey and have the participant fill in the web form on your iPad. (HIPAA?)

If you’ve any Python programming experience Pythonista will allow you to create a forms based UI which could contain a combination of text boxes and dropdown lists making up your form.

Once you’ve used TextExpander to complete the forms on your mac how is the data stored? Do you save them as a text/word/pages/pdf file? Are they entered into an online system somewhere?

Thank you for your suggestions but none of them are suitable. Let me give you an example.

Here is sample template from Typinator. The text between {{??<>}} is prompt.


Prior to the accident, it took Mr. XX {{?How long before?<>}} to initiate sleep and post-accident, it takes him {{?How long after?<>}} to initiate sleep due to {{?Cause of delayed sleep onset?}}.]<1>}}{{?Falling Asleep OK[Mr. XX does not have any difficulty initiating sleep, post-accident.]<0>}}{{?Staying Asleep}}

{{?Disturbed Sleep?[Mr. XX has been experiencing disturbed sleep as he wakes up {{?Wake up # of times/night?< times>}} per night due to {{?Why do you wake up?//#4<worry and physical discomfort, physical discomfort, worry, nightmares about >}}. Post-accident, he can attain {{?How many hours now?<>}} hours of sleep nocturnally compared to his usual {{?Hours of sleep before MVA<>}} hours of sleep per night.]<1>}}

The recommended sleep range for an average adult is 7–9 hours of sleep nocturnally. Therefore, his sleep range is {{?Below the recommended range(significantly|moderately|mildly)}} below the recommended one.

{{?Nocturnal Sleep Normal}}{{?No Change[Mr. XX has not experienced any significant change in his sleep pattern as he is able to attain his usual {{?Hours of sleep before MVA<>}} hours of sleep.]<0>}}