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Requirement diagrams

BriefBuilder has a dedicated requirement diagram feature that enables you to create, edit, and view requirement diagrams that are generated on the basis of the model’s contents.

The objective of this feature is to enable you to create visual overviews of the objects in your model and their interrelations, which can help the design team and other stakeholders to get a better understanding of the requirements.

Example of a diagram that shows the project’s spatial decomposition.

In this article, we will explain the practicalities of this feature.

Good to know: in building projects, this feature is often used to create adjacency diagrams (aka bubble diagrams). This particular type of diagram is also covered in a separate article.

Also good to know: The current version of this feature only shows relations within the same tree. It does not visualize the relations between different trees.

Diagram parts

In BriefBuilder, diagrams are composed of the following parts:

Objects: These are the key entities of a model, e.g. spaces or spatial elements. Their default shape is a circle, unless they contain other objects (see next, ‘parent objects’). These objects are the most flexible part of the diagram as you can change their colour, shape, size and position.

The initial shape of a ‘child’ object (an object that is part of another object) is a circle. This shape can be changed, however, as in this example is clear from the Coffee hub object that has a star shape.

Good to know: When creating a diagram with spaces, the default sizes of the circles correspond, by approximation, with the spaces’ size in terms of square meters/feet.

Parent objects: These are the ‘containers’ of the aforementioned objects. They are called ‘parents’ because they contain smaller ‘child’ objects. Think groups of spaces, systems or folders. Parent objects are always represented as rectangles.

A ‘parent object’ that contains other objects is represented as a rectangle. In this case, it shows not just the parent object’s name, but also the total number of square meters because it is a spatial object.

Note: You cannot change the shape type of parent objects, but you can change their colour and size. The latter is done by moving the objects that are placed inside it.

Relations: These are the relations between the different objects as they have been defined in the model (e.g. interface or adjacency relations). Relations are represented as grey lines. If it concerns a special type of relation (e.g. a proximity relation or connection), this is shown as text inside the line.

Relations between objects are presented as grey lines. If it concerns a particular type of relation, this is shown as text inside the line (in this example an ‘in proximity of’ relation).


The diagrams are created and generated on the basis of the model’s contents. So, to be able to create a diagram, you first need to define objects, and relations in your BriefBuilder model.

You can create objects in the various tree structures in the model. Relations can be defined on the detail view of an object.

For spatial diagrams, the adjacency relations tend to be most important. For technical diagrams, it is usually the interface relations. In both cases, these relations are visualized as lines in the diagram. See example below.

Example of a technical diagram, showing the interfaces of the building management system (BMS), as defined in the table ‘Interfaces with other systems/elements’ on the detail view of the BMS.

Creating a requirement diagram

To create a diagram, go to the Requirement diagrams section in the navigation menu.

Requirement diagrams can be found in the navigation menu under the header Diagrams.

Clicking on this menu item will bring you to the requirement diagram overview page. On this page you will see an overview of available diagrams, split into two categories:

  • For private use: these are diagrams that are only visible to you.
  • For all users: these are diagrams that are available to all users in the project model.

When you create a diagram, you have the option to save it as a public diagram for everyone to use or you can save it for private use.

To make a new diagram, do the following:

Step 1: Click on ‘new diagram’

Go to the overview page and click on the blue button at the top that reads New Diagram.

On the diagram overview page, you can see all the saved diagrams. To create a new diagram yourself, click on ‘New diagram’ at the top of the page.

Step 2: Select tree

When you have clicked on New Diagram, a pop-up window will open. On the left-hand side of this menu, you can select the tree that you want to create a diagram of (e.g. Spaces & locations, or Systems & elements).

You have to select the tree that you want to use to create your diagram.

After having made your tree selection, you can move over to the right-hand side and opt for a selection of the entire tree or make a selection of objects from that tree.

Good to know: when selecting a specific set of objects, you will also see an option that says:

Show selection + related objects.

If you choose this option, you will not only see the objects that you have selected, but also the objects that are related to them. Example:

Let’s say that the system Building Management System (BMS) is your only selection for your diagram.

If you do not choose ‘Show selection + related spaces/locations’, you will only see the object Building Management System (BMS) in your diagram.

If you do choose this option, you will not only see the BMS, but e.g. also the Ventilation system and the Cooling system and other objects that have a relation with the BMS.

When you have made your selections, click on Continue.

Step 3: Edit your diagram

Completing step 2 will lead you to the diagram itself. As you will notice, the software will generate a diagram for you. This diagram is based on the requirements in the model, but it is quite likely, that you will want to make some changes to diagram.

Please note: to be able to make changes to a diagram, it needs to be in edit mode. When creating a new diagram this is automatically the case. Otherwise, first click the Edit button.

If you are viewing an existing diagram, you first have to click on ‘Edit’ to be able to modify it.

To make changes to your diagram, you have to select the objects that you want to change. Objects can be selected by clicking on them. A blue border will be shown around the selected objects.

Good to know: selecting multiple objects at the same time is possible by holding down the Ctrl, Shift or Command key on your keyboard while making your selections.

All the selected objects will get a blue border.

Once you have selected one or more objects, you have the following edit possibilities:

Move objects

Any of the objects can be moved by holding down the left-click mouse button and dragging the mouse. When multiple objects are selected you can move them around while maintaining relative distances to each other.

Change sizes / proportions

You can change the size and proportions of an object by clicking and dragging the the small blue squares of the selected object.

Use the shape’s blue rectangles to change size and proportions. Use Ctrl to keep the proportions.

Good to know: if you want the shape to keep its current proportions, click on Ctrl while resizing.

Change colours

Every object can be changed in colour. Select one or multiple objects and select a colour from the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Change the colour of one or more objects.

Change shape

For ‘non-parent’ objects (e.g. spaces or elements) you can change the shape by first selecting the object and then selecting any of the shapes in the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Change the shape of one or more objects.

Remove objects

You can remove objects from your diagram by selecting an object and clicking on the remove button () from the menu). Please note: you are only removing the object from the diagram (e.g. because you want to simplify the diagram), not from the model.

Use the ‘eraser’ to remove objects from your diagram.

Add objects

You can add objects to your diagram by using the tree structure button. This button will open up a tree selection window in which you can select one or more objects to add to your diagram.

Add or remove objects to/from your diagram

Automatically rearrange your diagram

You can rearrange your diagram by clicking on the Rearrange automatically button. This can be relevant when you have added a lot of new objects (see above) or when you have been repositioning shapes yourself, but are not entirely happy with it.

Good to know: you can zoom in on a part of the diagram by using the scroll wheel on your mouse. You also use the icon to resize the diagram to your screen size.   

Use the resize button to make your diagram fit into your screen.

Step 4: Save your diagram

When you are finished working on your diagram, you can save your diagram by pressing the save as or save buttons at the top right of the window.

Click on ‘Save as’ when your diagram should be available as a different diagram than the original.

When saving as a new diagram, you will be given the option to give the diagram a name and to make your diagram available for other users.

When saving, indicate whether the diagram should be visible for all users. If not, it will be only visible for you, as the creator of the diagram.

Once you have saved your diagram, you will go back to the diagram overview.

In the overview, it is also possible to change the name of a diagram and to add description. To do so, click on the pencil icon behind the object’s name.

There controls that allow you to edit (), delete (), and change the sequence of diagrams () respectively.

The sequence control () can also be used to move a diagram from the public diagram table to the private diagram table or vice versa.

You can easily move diagrams from ‘for private use’ to ‘for all users’ by using the arrows icon and dragging a diagram to the relevant table.

Note: you can only move a diagram from the for all users category to the for private use category if you are the creator of that specific diagram.

Good to know: you can also download your diagram in a png format by using the download button.

You can download the diagram in png format by using the download button.

Automatic updating

If there are changes in your model (e.g. changes in the names of objects or the relations between objects), these changes are automatically applied to your diagrams.

Generally, this will not affect the set-up of a diagram. There are, however, two situations in which a diagram will look different (and probably will need to be updated):

(1) Deletion of objects

If you have an object in your diagram, and that object is later deleted from the model, your diagram will still show that original object, but it will be red and it will say Object deleted in capitals.

If an object that is in your diagram has been deleted from the model, it is shown in red with the notification ‘Object deleted’.

(2) Change of parent object

If you have an object in your diagram, that is part of a particular ‘parent object’ (e.g. a particular group of spaces or a system) and that object is later moved under another parent object, your diagram will still show that original object, but it will be red and it will say Object moved in capitals.

If an object that is in your diagram has been moved to another ‘parent’ object, it is shown in red as well, with the notification ‘Object moved’.

In both cases, you can remove those red objects from your diagram by doing the following:

(1) Click on the Select tree part button

(2) Keep the selection as it is and click on the Update button

(3) Where necessary, manually reposition objects for clarity.

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