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Data Flow Diagrams (DFD)

DFD is known to be an abbreviation for a “data flow diagram”. Being a graphical representation of the flow of data through an information system, any DFD may be used for modelling such system’s process aspects. Being often used as a preliminary step for creating an overview of the system without going into too many details, data flow diagrams may be also used for visualizing some kind of data processing within the study of structured design.

A data flow diagram may be also used for showing what kind of information can be input to as well as output from the system. It may represent the way some data can advance through the system, including the description of the place where such data can be stored. Without showing any information about process timing, data flow diagrams can be also known to be called the “bubble charts”.

DFD is a designing tool that can be used in the top-down approach to Systems Design which is known to be next "exploded" for producing a Level 1 DFD that shows some of the detail of the system that may be modelled. Identifying the internal data stores that must be present for the system to do its job properly as well as showing the flow of data between different parts of the system, data flow diagrams may be one of the well-known essential perspectives of the structured-systems analysis and design method named “SSADM”.

Having a data flow diagram, users get enabled to visualize the way some system can operate, what it can accomplish as well as in what way it can be implemented. Data flow diagrams can be also used for providing the end-users with some physical idea of whether their data has any effect on the structure of the system as a whole. Thus, in order to describe the way some system is being developed, anyone can do it through a data flow diagram model that can be created in the ConceptDraw DIAGRAM diagramming and drawing software.

Having the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution as an extension to the ConceptDraw DIAGRAM tool may simplify its user’s work with creating any needed data flow diagram (DFD) that can help to model multiple data flows as well as illustrate the functional requirements for a system or a business process. Using the pre-made templates and samples of the DFDs as well as the stencil libraries full of DFD-related design elements, any ConceptDraw DIAGRAM user might find the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution a useful tool for making the needed DF drawings.


There are 3 libraries containing 49 vector shapes in the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution.

Design Elements — Data Flow Diagrams (DFD)

Design Elements - Data Flow Diagrams (DFD)

Examples

There are a few samples that you see on this page which were created in the ConceptDraw DIAGRAM application by using the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution. Some of the solution's capabilities as well as the professional results which you can achieve are all demonstrated here on this page.

All source documents are vector graphic documents which are always available for modifying, reviewing and/or converting to many different formats, such as MS PowerPoint, PDF file, MS Visio, and many other graphic ones from the ConceptDraw Solution Park or ConceptDraw STORE. The Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution is available to all ConceptDraw DIAGRAM users to get installed and used while working in the ConceptDraw DIAGRAM diagramming and drawing software.

Example 1: DFD — Model of Small Traditional Production Enterprise

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using the Data Flow Diagrams library from the Data Flow Diagrams solution. An experienced user spent 10 minutes creating this sample.

This example shows production process of a traditional small enterprise. DFD diagrams are a useful way of visualizing a system and analyzing what it will accomplish.

DFD —  Model of Small Traditional Production Enterprise

Example 2: DFD — Process of Account Receivable

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using the Yourdon and Coad Notation library from the Data Flow Diagrams Solution. An experienced user spent 10 minutes creating this sample.

This sample shows a DFD (Yourdon and Coad notation) diagram describing the process within an accounts receivable department. Standardized Yourdon/Coad notation icons let you quickly draw professional looking data flow diagrams for your business documents, presentations, and websites.

DFD — Process of Account Receivable

Example 3: Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using the Gane-Sarson Notation library from the Data Flow Diagrams solution. An experienced user spent 10 minutes creating this sample.

This data flow diagram demonstrates the electronic system behind a customer purchase, using Gane/Sarson notation. DFDs allow you to simplify and accelerate understanding, analysis, and representation.

Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

Example 4: DFD — CERES

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using the Data Flow Diagrams library from the Data Flow Diagrams solution. An experienced user spent 20 minutes creating this sample.

This sample shows a CERES data flow diagram. The design is large and complex, but its creation in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM, using pre-designed objects, took just minutes. Use the legend to make additional comments.

DFD — CERES

Example 5: DFD — Coad/Yourdon Object Oriented Analysis model

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using the Yourdon and Coad Notation library from the Data Flow Diagrams solution. An experienced user spent 20 minutes creating this sample.

This example visualizes the popular Yourdon/Coad methodology that is popular and widely used in object-oriented analysis (OOA). Draw your own Yourdon/Coad diagrams quickly and easily in ConceptDraw DIAGRAM using pre-designed objects.

DFD — Coad and Yourdon Object Oriented Analysis model

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Inside

Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) Solution for macOS

Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) Solution for Microsoft Windows

What I Need to Get Started

Both ConceptDraw DIAGRAM diagramming and drawing software and the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution can help creating the software engineering diagrams you need. The Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution can be found in the Software Development area of ConceptDraw STORE application that can be downloaded from this site. Make sure that both ConceptDraw DIAGRAM and ConceptDraw STORE applications are installed on your computer before you get started.

How to install

After ConceptDraw STORE and ConceptDraw DIAGRAM are downloaded and installed, you can install the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) solution from the ConceptDraw STORE.

Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) Solution - Install

Start Using

To make sure that you are doing it all right, use the pre-designed symbols from the stencil libraries from the solution to make your drawings look smart and professional. Also, the pre-made examples from this solution can be used as drafts so your own drawings can be based on them. Using the samples, you can always change their structures, colors and data.

Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) Solution - Start Using

How to create a Data Flow Diagram

Data Flow Diagrams

When studying a business process or system that involves the transfer of data, it is common to use a data flow diagram (DFD) to visualize how that data is processed. While initially used exclusively in regards to the flow of data through a computer system, DFDs are now employed as a business modelling tool, describing business events and interactions, or physical systems involving data storage and transfer.

A DFD is a 2D diagram that appears something like a free-form flowchart. They can be divided into two broad categories — physical or logical data flow diagrams. They are not exclusive of each other; an interpretation of each can be placed over the same process, revealing different aspects of the data flow. The differences are, that a physical DFD shows how a system will be implemented, or how it currently operates — it includes the people involved, files, hardware, storage centres and other real-world elements. On the other hand, a logical DFD describes the necessity of certain operations and activities in order for data to be transferred from point A to point B.

Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

A physical data flow diagram, using the Yourdon/Coad notation, made with ConceptDraw DIAGRAM

DFDs are used by system analysts to create an overview of a business, to study and evaluate all its inputs and outputs, and to place each element within context along the data flow chain. Once an overall picture is achieved, each step can then be 'exploded' into a more detailed diagram of individual processes. The ideal scenario is first to create a visual representation of the current logical data flow — from here unnecessary processes can be dropped, and new features, inputs, outputs, activities and stored data can be added. This creates a new proposed logical data flow. With this new system, a new physical DFD can be devised, that takes into account all the proposed changes.

To ensure a measure of understanding when sharing diagrams with others, DFDs use a standardized notation system — it has been somewhat adapted for different needs over the years, but generally a DFD will use one of the two most prominent versions. Perhaps simplest of all is the Gane/Sarson notation, that uses three symbols and arrowed connectors to describe external entities, process and data stores, and the flow of data between them.

Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

A logical DFD, with Gane/Sarson notation, made using ConceptDRaw PRO

More in depth is the Yourdon/Coad notation (slightly adapted from DeMarco's version), with extra icons to describe multiple processes, process loops, conditions, and perhaps most importantly, different data states and object classes.

Standardized icon DFD

Standardized icon notation found in the Data Flow Diagram solution

To produce professional and standardized data flow diagrams, most analysts will turn to a specialist drawing software, that can automate certain processes and cater for presentation and file sharing needs. ConceptDraw DIAGRAM, extended with the Data Flow Diagram solution, is ideal for this scenario. Within the solution is a comprehensive vector stencil library, offering the full range of icons from both notation sets mentioned above. Features inherent to ConceptDraw DIAGRAM make the diagramming process simple and efficient — one click commands allow users to select and place icons, intuitively place connector arrows, and share their document in a range of presentation modes or file types.

An added bonus is the wealth of learning material available, particularly in relation to data flow and process diagrams, and a number of other solutions that support similar topics. FAQs, how-to guides, and video tutorials can all be found on the ConceptDraw website.

Adding the Data Flow Diagram solution to ConceptDraw DIAGRAM gives you a powerful tool to help analyze and devise data flows for any business process or system.