Shared lists and dummy questions

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Introduction to shared lists and dummy questions

Shared lists are pseudo-questions which are place-holders for choice lists, which can be included in other questions. The shared list question itself is never shown on the client device as a question.

You can use shared lists to set up dummy questions, which are questions that are hidden from the respondent. A dummy question can be used to store a calculated value that can then be referenced in scripts, while keeping this calculated value invisible to the respondent. Note that is possible to add pre and post conditions to a dummy question.

Shared lists are defined using the following tag:








Question alias.


Choice order: "fixed" or "randomized"

Sub elements


Defines a choice for a single or multi-choice question.




Numerical id of this choice


Label text of the choice. If "label" attribute is not set but "text" attribute is set, the compiler will move the text value to the label.


Optional text that can be used to give more detailed text for a choice. (optional)


Alias for the choice. (optional)


Resource id of an image to display beside this choice. (optional)


Flag that says if item should be initially selected or not. Default false.


Flag that says if the position of this choice should be fixed even if the choice order is randomized. (optional)


Flag that says if choice cannot be combined with other choices. Applies only to multiple choice questions. (optional)


The <include> element can be used as a sub-element of <choice>. It allows you to incorporate choices from/to another multiple-choice question, single-choice question (not slider) or shared list. For more information about including choices see Advanced choice filtering.

Set question answer

The setans(Qref,value,type) action is used to set the answer of a specific question to a specific value.

setans attributes




Question reference, either an alias or an id with the #-prefix


Value to set the answer to


Type of answer, optional, defaults to the type of the question

The value for a multiple-choice question can be wrapped in parenthesis to set specify multiple choices, e.g. setans(Q5,(1,3,4)). If you want to use a variable as value parameter, it has to be in the format shown in the example below, with the dollar sign as prefix:

<precondition then="setans(Q2,$var(ans1))"/>

If you need to set an answer from a multiple-choice question, the following script will give you the answer IDs, for example 1,5,8:

<precondition then="setans(Q3_dummy,$answerid(Q3))"/>

The following script will give you the answers as a text string (e.g. Toyota,Nissan,Mercedes):

<precondition then="setans(Q3_dummy,$answer(Q3))"/>

setans answer types (Set Answer)




Text answer packet


Numeric answer packet


Date answer packet


Choice answer packet (single)


Multichoice answer packet

For example, when using dummy questions or shared lists you will need to use setans() to punch the dummy question's answer to your current question, as in the following example:

Dummy Question:

<question type="choicelist" alias="Q_DUMMY" (parameters)>

  <choice id="1" label="brand1" (parameters) />

  <choice id="2" label="brand2" (parameters) />

  <choice id="3" label="brand3" (parameters) />

  <choice id="4" label="brand4" (parameters) />


By using the setans() function, you can punch the answers in the dummy question and record that brand1 has been selected in Q1 and brand3 has been selected in Q2, as in the following example:

<question type="single" alias="Q5" (parameters)>

  <precondition then="setans(Q_DUMMY, [1,3])"/>




Example 1

The  following example includes all choices from Q1 excluding choice id 1.

<choice id="3" label="going to include, not shown">

  <include from="Q1" exclude="Q1:1"/>


The following example includes all choices from Q2, but only shows those choices that were selected in Q2 (equivalent of an "if" condition on the choice).

<choice id="4" label="going to include, not shown">

  <include from="Q2" filter="true"/> 


Example 2

Q1 random(1,4) randomly generates a number between 1 and 4 and ends up with 2 thus sets the variable rndmgames to 2. As the variable rndmgames equals 2 the variable games is set to Outrun, Archon II or Decathlon. Q2 Choice 5 will show "Multiplayer games such as Archon II or Decathlon".

Question 1 script (dummy)

<question type="info" text="dummy should not be shown" id="1" alias="Q1">   

    <precondition then="setvar(rndmgames,random(1,4))"/>   

    <precondition if="var(rndmgames)==1" then="setvar(games,'Archon, Bubble Bobble or North and South')"/>                    

    <precondition if="var(rndmgames)==2" then="setvar(games,'Archon II or Decathlon')"/>   

    <precondition if="var(rndmgames)==3" then="setvar(games,'Summer Games or Winter Games')"/>   

    <precondition if="var(rndmgames)==4" then="setvar(games,'California Games or World Games')"/>   

    <precondition then="skip"/>


Question 2 script (dummy) 

<question type="multi" max_select="32767" min_select="1" order="fixed" style="more-options-below" enable_lookup="false" id="2" text="Please select from the list below all the video games you have played the last week" alias="Q2">

    <choice id="1" label="Last Ninja II" anchored="false" exclusive="false" alias=""/>

    <choice id="2" label="Pirates" anchored="false" exclusive="false" alias=""/>   

    <choice id="3" label="Giana Sisters" anchored="false" exclusive="false" alias=""/>   

    <choice id="4" label="Out Run" anchored="false" exclusive="false" alias=""/>   

    <choice id="5" label="Multiplayer games such as $var(games)" anchored="false" exclusive="false" alias=""/>   

    <choice id="6" label="None of these" anchored="true" exclusive="true" alias=""/>


See also