Information models are powerful tools. They help us dissect complex problems, design solutions, and share information, allowing us to better understand the world around us. But what exactly is an information model and how do you create one? In this series of four blog posts, we explain in a simple and understandable way what an information model is, why information modeling is important, and how to create an information model. We conclude with an example of how information modeling is applied within the education domain. In this first blog of the series, we explain information modeling in a simple and understandable way. We base this on the Metamodel Information Modeling, a standard for describing information models in the Netherlands.
A model is a simplified representation of reality made for a specific purpose. Models are pragmatic tools, but they do not have universal validity. An information model is a model that describes the data needed to support a certain process or function. An information model is like a simplified map of reality, made for a specific purpose. Imagine you are making a map of a city to find your way. You could include every small detail, such as every tree or lamppost, but this is not necessary for your specific purpose. Instead, you could focus on the main elements for this purpose such as streets, buildings, and parks. This is what an information model does, but for information about objects from reality instead of the physical objects themselves. Below are some of the main elements that an information model consists of according to the Metamodel Information Modeling:
All these elements are displayed in a diagram, similar to a city map, where the object types are the buildings, the attribute types are the details of the buildings, the relationship types are the roads between the buildings, and the value lists are the possible colors of the buildings.
In summary, an information model is a simplified map of reality, made for a specific purpose. It consists of object types (the 'things'), attribute types (their properties), relationship types (the connections between the 'things'), data groups (groups of properties), and value lists (possible values of the properties). In the next blog, we will delve deeper into the usefulness and benefits of information modeling. So keep reading!
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