Tag Archives: excel decision trees

Create Decision Trees using Microsoft Excel

decision tree excel

If you’re comfortable using Microsoft Excel, you can build the first draft of your Zingtree decision trees in Excel using a spreadsheet, and then easily import them into Zingtree. Once you’ve successfully imported your tree, you can modify it and enhance it using Zingtree’s editing tools, which offer a lot more decision tree related functionality than Excel.

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

Overview

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

Start now by downloading and modifying this example .XLS file:

Download Examples for Excel

Note: This spreadsheet has two tabs: Basic and Advanced.

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 the question that is being asked. You can leave this blank if you want an answer node. The heading must be “Question“.
  5. Column D 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“.
  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 labeled “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 D9 in the example):
    LINK: http://google.com
  • Example: To make Tree Node that opens tree ID #123456789, the content area is this (see cell D8 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 TXT file. This is also known as a tab delimited CSV.

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

Build Your Tree

To start, download our “what to wear” example tree, as an Excel.XLS file.

Open this file in Excel, and start modifying it.  You can use the Basic or Advanced tab – most people start with the basic option. 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 it into Zingteee via copy and paste, or by exporting to a TXT file.

Import via Copy and Paste

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

  1. In Excel, 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 Microsoft Excel.) A screen like this appears:

  3. Choose Microsoft Excel 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 TXT 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 Excel, go to File, Save As, and select Text (Tab Delimited) as the type.

  2. The file name will become the name of your tree. Click Save when finished.
  3. In Zingtree, go to the Import File tool. (You can also get there from My Trees, Create Tree, and then choosing Import from Excel.)

  4. If you want to overwrite an existing tree, select it via Replace Tree. Otherwise, a new tree will be created.
  5. Click Import File, and locate the file you created in steps 1 and 2.
  6. 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. 

This article was originally published January 26, 2017.