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I wish to draw the flow like in the picture using the code below, however, I found it is very hard to locate the rectangles by using Coordinate. Is there any better way to do this?

enter image description here

Here is the code I have tried:


\draw (-4,-4) rectangle (4,4);
\draw (-0.5,0)  rectangle (-3,-3);
\draw (0.5,0)   rectangle (3,-3);
\draw (-1,0)    rectangle (-2,-1);


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I’d work my way from the most inner to the most outer stuff, the fit library does help here. Instead of using rectangle paths, you’d be using rectangular nodes. – Qrrbrbirlbel Feb 12 '13 at 14:00
Have a look at the TikZ-uml package too ensta-paristech.fr/~kielbasi/tikzuml/index.php?lang=en – percusse Feb 12 '13 at 14:07
Thanks, however, I never used fit before,can you give me an example? – sweetyBaby Feb 12 '13 at 14:07
up vote 9 down vote accepted

This answer makes use of the following TikZ libraries:

  • shapes.geometric for the diamond shapes
  • positioning for the relative positioning of nodes ( …=… of …)
  • fit for fitting nodes around other ones (fit=(…)(…) …)
  • calc for the positioning of the diamond nodes

The node f is on the same height as b and d. The node e is on the same height as the left diamond (dia1).

The right big rectangles enclosing e and f uses the coordinate dia1.north -| e to fit, so that it has the same height as the other big rectangle.

Should the “plussed” diamond on the bottom be horiztonally centered between the big rectangles use

\node[dia cross] at ([yshift=-.5cm]$(left.south east)!.5!(right.south west)$) (dia2) {};

for the placement (notice the anchors south east and south west).


        minimum size=2em,
    dia cross/.style={
%       path picture={
%           \draw (path picture bounding box.west) -- (path picture bounding box.east)
%                 (path picture bounding box.north) -- (path picture bounding box.south);
%       },
        append after command={
                \draw[shorten >=\pgflinewidth,shorten <=\pgflinewidth]
                                   (\tikzlastnode.west) -- (\tikzlastnode.east);
                \draw[shorten >=\pgflinewidth,shorten <=\pgflinewidth]
                                 (\tikzlastnode.north) -- (\tikzlastnode.south);

    every node/.append style={draw,minimum width=3em,minimum height=1.5em},

%%% Left side
%% nodes with text
\node                (a) {a};
\node[below=.5 of a] (b) {b};

\node[right=of a]    (c) {c};
\node[below=.5 of c] (d) {d};

%% rectangles around nodes with text
\node[fit=(a)(b)] (ab) {};
\node[fit=(c)(d)] (cd) {};

%% top diamond
\node[dia] at ([yshift=.5cm]$(ab.north)!.5!(cd.north)$) (dia1) {};

%%% Right side
\node[right=2 of d] (f) {f};
\node[label={[inner sep=0pt,minimum height=2ex]above:h?}] at (f |- dia1) (e) {e};

% fake f to get the same spacing as on the left side (text with draw=gray)
\node[fit=(f),draw=none] (f') {}; 

%%% Big rectangles
\node[inner sep=1em,fit=(ab)(cd)(dia1)] (left) {};
\node[inner sep=1em,fit=(f')(dia1.north -| e)] (right) {};

%%% Diamond below
\node[dia cross] at ([yshift=-.5cm]$(left.south)!.5!(right.south)$) (dia2) {};

%%% Arrows
\foreach \pp/\pf/\pt in {--/a/b,
    shorten >=\pgflinewidth,
] (\pf) \pp (\pt);


enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Thanks, however, it says "I can not find the file tizlibrary.\pgf@temp->shapes.geometric" when I run the code. Is it because I miss to install something? – sweetyBaby Feb 12 '13 at 17:05
@sweetyBaby Apparently. Though shapes.geometric is a part of TikZ it should be available if TikZ is available. Do you have an updated installation? TikZ’ current version is 2.10. – Qrrbrbirlbel Feb 12 '13 at 17:09
it is the latest one. And now a new problem occured when running the code, it says "package pdfkeys error: I don not know the key /tikz/path picture" – sweetyBaby Feb 12 '13 at 17:24
@sweetyBaby Have you checked with \listfiles whether you have the right version? It does not seem to be the current version. – Qrrbrbirlbel Feb 12 '13 at 17:46
Thanks, finally, I have updated, however, the code still can not run successfully, the error says "PDFTexify failed to create a pdf file ". is there any possible to draw the picture using tikz 2.0? – sweetyBaby Feb 14 '13 at 1:54

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