Yes, You can Create an Architectural Data Model in UML

Traditionally, the object-oriented community and the data modelling and design community have found it difficult to understand each other. The premises are completely different. The entity/relationship model, which is the ‘data’ people’s tool of choice, is not readily supported by UML, the object-oriented community’s tool of choice.

As a data modeller, your author has been one of UML’s strongest critics in the past. However, in the spirit of Richard Nixon, a fervent anti-communist, being the only one who could open a diplomatic door to communist China, this presentation is an attempt to make peace between the two groups.

Yes, it is possible to create a serviceable entity/relationship model with the UML notation. Because UML was designed to support object-oriented design, and entity/relationship modelling is intended to produce models of the business for review by non-technical business people, some tinkering with the notation and a lot of tinkering with ‘best practices’ are required to pull this off. This presentation will describe what is required to do it. It will describe how to constrain both the assignment and the parts of UML to use, in order to make it all work. Along with that, it will present important aspects of business modelling that even many data modellers neglect at their cost.

The presentation will be derived from Dave’s new book, UML and Data modeling: A Reconciliation.

Ultimately, the goal is to present an approach to modelling that will produce outstanding models, regardless of the notation chosen.

During part two of the presentation, sample models from Enterprise Model Patterns: Describing the World will be shown to demonstrate the approach.


In the Information Industry since it was called ‘data processing’, Dave Hay has been producing data models to support strategic and requirements planning for over twenty-five years. As President of Essential Strategies, Inc. for nearly twenty of those years, Dave has worked in a variety of industries, including, among others, banking, clinical pharmaceutical research, broadcasting, and all aspects of oil production and processing. Projects entailed various aspects of defining corporate information architecture, identifying requirements, and planning strategies for the implementation of new systems.

Dave’s recently-published book, Enterprise Model Patterns: Describing the World, is an ‘upper ontology’ consisting of a comprehensive model of any enterprise – from several levels of abstraction. It is the successor to his ground-breakding 1995 book, Data Model Patterns: Conventions of Thought -the original book describing standard data model configurations for standard business situations.

In between, he has written Requirements Analysis: From Business Views to Architecture (2003) and Data Model Patterns: A Metadata Map (2006). Since he took the unusual step of using UML in the Enterprise Model Patterns book, a follow-on book, UML and Data modeling: A Reconciliation was published later in 2011. This book both shows data modellers how to adapt the UML notation to their purposes, and UML modellers how to adapt UML to produce business-oriented architectural models.

He has spoken at numerous international and local DAMA, semantics, user group, and other conferences.

He can be reached at, (713) 464-8316, or via his company’s web site at


David Hay, Yes, You Can Create An Architectural Data Model In UML


Oct 18 2012


8:30 am - 11:45 pm


The Albany Club, 91 King Street East (King/Yonge subway ), Toronto

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