Friday, 4 June 2010

Percentage completion in a script decision tree

Came across an interesting problem today. We're working on a series of scripts for customer services people to work through different processes over the phone or face to face with the public. A useful indicator for the user is to see how far through the script they are. I've worked out how to get a nifty Javascript progress indicator working (i'll post the code and the inspiration in another entry) but the real question is how to work out the progress at each point in the tree.

The trees that we're working with don't have a fixed size; there is no minimum or maximum branch length. It's perfectly possible for one branch to be four nodes in length and another twelve nodes. We've thought about using the non decision nodes (ie where something gets input like a name or bank account number rather than the user deciding on something) but there aren't that many of those. Certainly not enough to stop a 0% or 100% scenario.

I've had a quick crawl of the web but can't find anything. I think the right way to go might be a 'worst case' approach whereby the script looks at the total possible number of nodes left and uses this as a basis to work out a percentage. This should be easy enough to implement with an xml parser.

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