At the core of DecisionsFirst Modeler is the decision requirements diagram. These diagrams allow you to describe how, exactly, your organization wants to make a decision or currently does so.
These diagrams show Decisions, Knowledge Sources and Input Data as well as their associations.
You can create as many of these diagrams as you like and Decisions and other objects can appear on many diagrams - the DecisionsFirst Modeler database stores all the links you make on all the diagrams. Decision Diagrams have a name and description like any other object
You can add elements to the diagram in a number of ways. The most basic is to search for existing decisions, input data or knowledge sources in your database.
Once we have the search box displayed we can use the DecisionsFirst free text search engine to find what we need. We can sort the result in different ways to make it easy to find what we are looking for. You can use it to find newly created objects, for instance, by changing it to show the most recently modified objects first.
Once you find what you need you can add it to the diagram simply by dragging and dropping it. You can add Decisions, Input Data and Knowledge Sources.
A Decision is dependent on something when it is required in order to make the Decision at all or to make it accurately. Decisions can be dependent on information or on knowledge. Some knowledge is derived analytically from information. These are the kinds of dependencies we can build on the diagram.
The Objects palette has a number of link types. All of these represent the same thing – a dependency link – they just have different styles. We can simply drag the link on to the diagram and then connect two objects using it.
The end with the arrow should point to the object that is dependent on something and the blunt end should rest on the object on which it is dependent.
To make this decision dependent on this information we simply click on the arrow end and drag it to the Decision until it snaps into place. We can drag the blunt end to one of the Input Data. This creates a dependency between the Decision and the Input Data. We can repeat this as often as we need to.
The diagram has a number of usability features:
- You can make any of the shapes larger or smaller by selecting a node and then dragging one of its corners
- You can move nodes around by clicking on them and dragging the node itself. If you drag to an edge the diagram will enlarge itself so you can keep dragging
- If you have a single node selected you can edit its name or description using the properties on the right hand side.
- You can select several nodes by dragging a box around them and you can then move the group by clicking and dragging any of the members of the group
- Clicking anywhere in the diagram not on a node deselects all the nodes
- You can use the + and – buttons to zoom in and out on the diagram. You can also select a zoom level from the button next to them.
- You can select any object and click the edit button to open the object for editing
- You can save the diagram to a PNG file using the Export to Image button
If the decisions, knowledge sources or input data you need don't exist in your database you can add them directly in the diagram. From the objects palette you can drag one of the solid node shapes onto the diagram and create a new object. You can use the properties editor to specify its name and description without opening the edit window for the object. The new object is in the database and on the diagram.
If you are not certain about something while you are developing a diagram you can create sketch objects. Dragging the open node shapes to the diagram crates a sketch decision, sketch input data or sketch knowledge source. These can have names and descriptions like any other objects. They can be linked to other sketch objects or to permanent objects using the same dependency links. But these objects only exist in the diagram – they can't be reused on other diagrams, found in the search or opened for editing. At any point you can click QuickAdd and turn a selected sketch object into a real one.
The final element on the object palette is a comment node. You can add these to any diagram whenever you want to annotate it with a comment.
One final point. It's important to remember that all diagrams in DecisionsFirst Modeler are views on the same database. If you add a link to a diagram that already exists you won't duplicate the link - you’ll reuse it on the second diagram. If you add something to the diagram that already has a link to something on the diagram then DecisionsFirst Modeler will add the link to this diagram too. If you delete a link from the diagram but it exists on other diagrams it will stay in the database and just be removed from this diagram.