Create Decision Trees using Google Sheets

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Did you know that Google Sheets can be used as a decision tree building tool? Using a specific layout, you can easily import any Sheets document into Zingtree, and turn it into a fully functional interactive decision tree.

Once you’ve successfully imported your tree, you can enhance it using Zingtree’s editing tools, which offer a lot more decision tree related functionality than Google Sheets.

Here’s how our example tree used in the tutorials appears in Sheets:

You can get started now by copying this example and modifying it:

Get Examples from Google Sheets

 

Overview

Zingtree can create decision trees from Google Sheets, or any similarly formatted tabular source. Your spreadsheets just need to be set up in a specific way for this to work.

Here are the rules:

  1. The first row is for column headings. This is important, as it tells Zingtree what type of data is in each column. Make sure to use the column headings as described below.
  2. Column A is for the node number. Usually this is sequential. It’s required. The heading must say “Node“.
  3. Column B is for the title of a node. Your trees will be easier to read if each node has a descriptive title. The heading must say “Title“.
  4. Column C is for any content that appears in the content area.  This is imported as plain text, but you can add formatting, images, and videos later using the Zingtree editing tools. The heading must read “Content“.
  5. Column D is the question that is being asked. You can leave this blank if you want an answer node. The heading must be “Question“.
  6. If you want to include node tags in your tree, insert a column with a heading of “Tags“. This is optional.
  7. If you are using a scoring variable for scoring button clicks, add a column headed “Score Variable“. This is optional.
  8. The last columns are for the button choices.  The heading over the first button column must be “Buttons“. You can have several columns of buttons.
  9. For the button columns, you can make them link to other nodes by adding the node number in square brackets.  In the above example, cell F2 has a button labelled “Yes” that links to node #2.  ( Yes[2]  ).
  10. If you’re using score variables for button clicks, you can include something like “+3” after the node number in brackets.  This would add 3 to the scoring variable mentioned in the Score variable column. (See the Advanced tab in the sample spreadsheet for an example.)
  11. If you want to add a comment to any node, insert a cell on the right that starts with an exclamation point character (!).

Note: Columns can be in any order, but the column headings must contain the proper text like “Node”, “Question” etc.

You can also make Link Nodes and Tree Nodes with special text in the content column:

  • Example: To make a Link Node that goes to Google, the content area looks like this (see cell C8 in the example):
    LINK: http://google.com
  • Example: To make a Tree Node that opens tree ID #123456789, the content area will be (see cell C7 in the example):
    TREE: 123456789
  • Example: To make a Tree Node that opens tree ID #999999999 at node #3, the content area should be:
    TREE: 999999999,3

Once you’ve finished your tree, it needs to be exported as a TSV file. This is also known as tab-separated values, or tab delimited CSV.

You can also just copy and paste cells from Sheets into Zingtree. Sheets copies tab delimited data to the clipboard automatically.

Build Your Tree

To start, open this file in Sheets, and make a copy for your personal use. You can use the Basic or Advanced tab – most people start with the basic option.

Now start modifying it.  Make sure to keep top row column headings in place. Keep questions in the question column, content in the content column, etc.

When you’re done, you can import your work into Zingteee via copy and paste, or by exporting to a tab delimited (TSV) file.

Import via Copy and Paste

This is the easiest way to import your decision tree into Zingtree:

  1. In Sheets, select the entire range of cells for your tree, and copy to the clipboard (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C).
  2. In Zingtree, go to the Import via Copy and Paste tool.  (You can also get there via My Trees, Create Tree, then select Import from Google Sheets.) A screen like this appears:

  3. Choose Google Sheets as the source.
  4. Enter a name for your tree
  5. Paste the data copied from step 1 into the data area. (Use Ctrl+V or Cmd+V).
  6. Click Import and Create Tree.

You’ll see your new tree in the Zingtree overview.

Import via a TSV file

For larger trees, you may find it better to upload a file instead of copying and pasting. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. In Sheets, go to File, Download As, and select Tab-separated values (.tsv, current sheet).

  2. In Zingtree, go to the Import File tool. (You can also get there from My Trees, Create Tree, and then choosing Import from Google Sheets.)

  3. If you want to overwrite an existing tree, select it via Replace Tree. Otherwise a new tree will be created.
  4. Click Import File, and locate the file you created in step 1.
  5. The new tree will appear in Zingtree.

Notes:

  • You can use this process to import files from any tab delimited CSV format.

Any questions? Reach out to us anytime. 

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