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Importing data via Excel

If you have a large amount of legacy data that you want to add to BriefBuilder, you may want to import that data by means of an Excel import.

You can import the following data:

  • Objects
  • Properties
  • Relations
  • Analysis data for objects, properties, and relation

Importing Excel data can be very powerful, but it should be said that preparing the import Excel sheets can be a complex operation as these sheets need to be structured in a particular way. But, if you the follow the instructions below, you will surely manage : – )

Note: there are separate articles for Excel imports for user accounts and Excel imports for object classifications/numberings.

Note: Excel imports are not (yet) possible for verification data or RFC data.

The import button

Excel imports can be done by means of the import button that can be found at in the menu at the top of each tree.

When clicking on that you can choose between importing objects from another BriefBuilder model or doing an Excel import.

Next, you have to select the Excel sheet you want import.

As said, you should first make sure that the Excel sheet is in line with our template, which will be explained below.

TIP: Try out your Excel import in a sandbox clone of your project before you do the import in your live project model.

TIP: Make sure that your import sheet is in the same language as your project model. Download an empty template in your language here.

Example

To get a quick understanding of the Excel sheet set-up, you can take a look at the example below which has some content in it.

The example concerns an import of data for the Spaces & Locations tree.

It adds several new meeting rooms (objects; first tab), including their properties (second tab), and their relations (third tab).

You may also notice that you cannot only import requirements data, but also analysis data. In this example it concerns the columns ‘review’ and ‘review note’.

How do you set up your import sheet?

Setting up your import file will require you to fill out information on the Excel template’s three main tabs:

  • Objects
  • Properties
  • Relations

We’ll explain each of the three tabs below.

Note that some of the columns on these tabs are optional and some others mandatory. You can, for example, not import a property if you haven’t defined to which object it should be linked (because properties can only exist as part of an object).

Objects

This is the first tab of your import file. You can use it to add new objects to your project model. See below for an explanation of the different columns on this tab.

The first tab can be used to import objects and their descriptions

This tab features the following columns:

Column A: Object type (Mandatory)
The type the object should be (e.g. space or location, or system or element). Click here for a (English) list of possible types.

Please note that you need to use the object type name that corresponds with the language of your project model. So, the object ‘meeting room’ would be ‘space’ in an English project model, and ‘ruimte’ in a Dutch project model.

Column B: Object ID (Optional)
You can use this column to add a unique identifier. This is only relevant when 2 or more objects have the same name.

It is possible to change (or overwrite) object names with an import if object IDs are used on the object tab. If the names for these objects are different from those in the project model but the IDs are a perfect match, the import will overwrite the names in the model with those in the import sheet. You will receive an overwrite notification in case this occurs.

To change object names, IDs can be added in Column B: Object ID of the first tab in the import sheet.

Column C: Object name (Mandatory)
The name of your object (e.g. “large meeting room” or “department XYZ”).

Column D: Parent object ID (Optional)
You can use this column alongside the Parent object name column (see below) to add a unique identifier, or to refer to a particular existing object, in case there are multiple objects with the same name.

Column E: Parent object name (Optional)
You can use this column if you want to define under which other object (= the ‘parent’) an object needs to be placed (e.g. the object ‘reception desk’ may have ‘entrance area’ as a parent).

If you don’t define parent objects for your objects, they will be imported as a flat list, which you can then structure in BriefBuilder (by clicking the objects and ‘drag-and-dropping’ them where you want them to be).

Column F: Description (Optional)
The object’s description if it has any.

Column G: Labels (Optional)
The object’s labels if it has any. Separate multiple labels by using a comma.

Properties

This is the second tab on your import sheet. You can use it to add new properties to your model or to add values to existing standard properties.

You must make sure that all the properties you add on this tab have a correct reference (object name, and object ID if relevant) to the objects you want to add them to.

In case you are adding new properties to existing objects (objects that are already present in your BriefBuilder model), it is smart to look up the objects’ IDs in BriefBuilder and add that ID to the column Object ID (unless all object’s have unique names – in that case you can run the import just on object names without IDs)

Note: the Properties tab of the import sheet can also be used to import values for existing standard properties. In that case, you have ensure that the property names in the Excel file match the names of the standard properties in the project model.

1. Create the standard property in your project model via the Settings menu
2. Use that standard property’s exact same name in the property name column of the import sheet
3. Add the desired values in the value column of the import sheet
4. Run the import

This way, you can add standard property values for a lot of objects at the same time.

See below for an explanation for all the columns on the Property tab.

Note: the Properties tab of the import sheet can be used to import values for classification/numbering as well. It works in much the same way as importing values for standard properties.

1. Create the classification in your project model via the Settings menu
2. Use that classification’s exact same name in the property name column of the import sheet
3. Add the desired values in the value column of the import sheet
4. Run the import

This way, you can add classifications for a lot of objects at the same time.

Column A: Object ID (Optional)
Here you can refer to the Object IDs you have used on the objects tab (see above) or to refer to an existing object in BriefBuilder.

Note: If you choose to use Object IDs in the ‘Objects’ Tab, you will have to use them here as well.

Column B: Object name (Mandatory)
This is the name of the object to which the property should be added. It can refer to names on the tab ‘Objects’ OR to an existing object in BriefBuilder.

Note: in BriefBuilder, an object cannot have two properties with same name (e.g. a meeting room cannot have two properties called ‘capacity’).

Column C: Property name (Mandatory)
The name of the property (e.g. size, floor area, …).

Column D: Comparator (Optional)
The kind of value that the properties defines, expressed as a mathematical symbol. You can choose between the options: < > = ≤ ≥ ≈

Column E: Value (Mandatory)
The value of the property (can be a number, a text, …)

Column F: Unit of measure (Optional)
The unit of measure of the property (e.g. m, m2, dB etc).

Column G: Note (Optional)
Explanatory note to describe any specifics for this property.

Column H: ID (Optional)
Optional requirement ID of an existing property. When multiple properties with the same name exist for a single object, this field is required to map to the unique attribute by matching it’s requirement ID.

It is possible to change (or overwrite) property names with an import if property (requirement) IDs are used on the property tab. If the names for these properties are different from those in the project model but the IDs are a perfect match, the import will overwrite the names in the model with those in the import sheet. You will receive an overwrite notification in case this occurs.

To change property names, IDs can be added in Column H: ID of the second tab in the import sheet.

Relations

This is the third and final tab on your import sheet. You can use it to add new relations between objects in your project model.

Note: this tab is often used in tandem with the objects tab to give the new objects their accompanying relations. In that case, the first two columns for Object 1 (column A and B) will refer back to the new objects on the first tab, and the three columns for Object 2 (column C, D and E) will refer to existing objects in BriefBuilder.

Again, you can find an explanation of all the different colums below.

Column A: Object ID 1 (Optional)
Here you can refer to the IDs of the objects on earlier mentioned tab ‘Objects’ OR to an existing object in BriefBuilder. Note: if you choose to use the Object IDs in the ‘Objects’ Tab, you will have to use them here as well.

Column B: Object name 1 (Mandatory)
The name of the relevant object on the tab ‘Objects’ OR an existing object in BriefBuilder.

Column C: Object type 2 (Mandatory)
The type of object that you want to relate to (e.g. system, spatial element, process, etc). Click here for a list of possible types (in English).

Column D: Object ID 2 (Optional)
Here, you can refer to the ID of an object that already exists in BriefBuilder. You can also choose to leave this column empty and rely on the name of ‘Object 2’. Note: this only works if there are no duplicates in object names.

Column E: Object name 2 (Mandatory)
Here, you can refer to an object that already exists in BriefBuilder.

Note: if ‘Object 2’ does not yet exist in the BriefBuilder model, it will be automatically created and added in a dedicated import folder.

Column F: Value (Optional)
The value of the relation (e.g. the quantity of spatial elements in a space).

Column G: Note (Optional)
Explanatory note to describe any specifics for this relation.

Analysis

Analysis does not have its own tab on the import sheet.

To import analysis data, you will have to add columns yourself.

  • For analysis data concerning object descriptions, add your columns to the first tab
  • For analysis data concerning properties, add columns to the second tab
  • For analysis data concerning relations add columns to the third tab

Important: the headers of these columns must match the analysis property names in your project model. You can add and modify these via the Analysis Settings. You have to define these analysis property names BEFORE you run your import.

Please note that you cannot import analysis data if there is no requirement. If a property has analysis data, but no value, you will get an error notification that says: Value missing. The same for an object’s description, where you will get an error notification that says, Description missing.

Ground rules for imports

To avoid all too many error notifications, it is important to understand the following ground rules when running an import.

(1) You can only import object types or properties for one tree at a time. Every import sheet must be created specifically for each tree.

(2) The language used for the object types in your import file must match the language of your project. If you want to look up the right terms for your project, simply go to the tree and click on the plus button. You will get a list of all available object types for that tree.

(3) Property names for a single object must be unique. An object cannot have two properties with the same name. If they do, BriefBuilder will consider this a conflict and abort your import.

This applies only to properties. Objects may have the same name, but in that case you will need to add an Object ID so that software can differentiate between those objects.

(4a) Analysis properties must be defined in your BriefBuilder model before importing analysis data. So, if you have, for example, added an analysis column ‘stakeholder’ in your import file, you should first create ‘stakeholder’ as analysis property in BriefBuilder (via the Analysis Settings menu). Otherwise, BriefBuilder will not find a match with the data from your sheet and will not import your analysis data.

(4b) Classification properties must also be defined in your BriefBuilder model before importing classification data. The same principle for standard properties applies here. You can create and modify classification properties via the Classification / numbering Settings.

(5) Analysis property names must also be unique. Analysis names must be unique from each other AND they cannot share a name with any of the other headers on your import sheet. If they do, BriefBuilder will consider this a conflict and abort your import.

For example: you cannot have two analysis properties that are both called ‘review’.

Also, pay close attention to the other header names on your import sheet. For example, when importing properties, there are two headers for columns labelled as ‘value’ and ‘note’. Do not use these same names for the analysis properties that you wish to add via your import.

(6) Standard properties must be added to your BriefBuilder model before the import. This is similar to importing analysis properties. So, if you want to add “material” as a standard property to all your spatial elements, you should first create a standard property “material” in your model. If you don’t do this, all those properties in your import sheet will be imported as regular properties.

Click here to learn more about how to create standard properties.

Troubleshooting

The error messages that BriefBuilder displays let you know which row on which tab of your import sheet is causing a potential conflict. You will need to open up your import file and check that specific row or cell to examine the problem.

If BriefBuilder shows you an error message, the entire import has aborted. So, there is no issue with half imported Excel sheets. It is all or nothing : – )

The error message also clarifies what type of issue is causing the import to fail. For example, a lack of unique names (i.e., two properties with the same name), a wrong ID of an object or a type of object that does not exist within your project.

Checking the ground rules might help you further identify the problem. For example, are you importing in the right tree? Does your file’s language and type match that of your project?

Import templates for BriefBuilder

Download an Excel import template for BriefBuilder down below. Be sure to use the language of your project when specifying object types. For example, Danish BriefBuilder does not understand what a “space” is, and English BriefBuilder does not know what a “rum” is. Well, maybe it does, but not that kind of rum 😉

Import templates contain three tabs: one for importing objects, one for importing properties, and one for importing relations between objects. It is okay to leave tabs empty if they aren’t relevant for your import.

You will need to add analysis data to any of these three tabs yourself, because those properties are fully customizable and will thus differ per project.

Tips & Tricks

Unpivoting Excel tables

Sometimes, you already have legacy data available in a pivot table, which is a format you cannot just import in BriefBuilder.

In that case, you will want to ‘unpivot’ your table. This video shows you a simple way of doing so.

Mixing exports and imports

It’s possible that you want to edit BriefBuilder-data by using Excel (such as changing all analysis values in one go). In that case, you should generate an Excel export or download first (by using the Excel button on an overview or table), then modify the data in that Excel file, and then import it again in BriefBuilder.

Please note however that those Excel exports cannot be imported again without any modification. You will first have to restructure the information according to the original import template (with the three tabs: objects, properties, and relations).

Last but not least: if your import sheet contains a lot of data, the import may take a while. If the pop-up message of running the import disappears, the import was successful. You can instantly see the new objects, properties or relations appear in the tree you have opened up.

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