DFD Library - Design elements

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Data Flow Diagram (DFD) notations

There are different notations to draw data flow diagrams (Yourdon & Coad and Gane & Sarson), defining different visual representations for processes, data stores, data flow, and external entities.


The process is the manipulation or work that transforms data, performing computations, making decisions, or directing data flows based on business rules. Processes can be drawn as circles or a segmented rectangle on a DFD, and include a process name and process number.

DFD, Process

Pic. 1. DFD, Process

Data Stores

A data store is where a process stores data between processes for later retrieval by that same process or another one. Data stores are usually drawn as a rectangle with the righthand side missing and labeled by the name of the data storage area it represents, though different notations do exist.

DFD, Data Store

Pic. 2. DFD, Data Store

Data Flow

Data flow is the movement of data between the entity, the process, and the data store. Data flow portrays the interface between the components of the DFD. The flow of data in a DFD is named to reflect the nature of the data used. Data flow is represented by an arrow, where the arrow is annotated with the data name.

DFD, Data Flow

Pic. 3. DFD, Data Flow

External Entities

An entity is the source or destination of data. The source in a DFD represents these entities that are outside the context of the system. Entities are often represented as rectangles. Entities are also referred to as agents, terminators, or source/sink.

DFD, External Entities

Pic. 4. DFD, External Entities

The Data Flow Diagrams solution from the Software Development area of ConceptDraw Solution Park provides three vector stencils libraries for drawing DFD using the ConceptDraw PRO diagramming and vector drawing software.

The design elements library "Data flow diagram (DFD)" contains 15 symbols for drawing both context-level data flow diagram and Level 1 DFD.

Data Flow Diagram Symbols

Pic. 5. Data Flow Diagram (DFD) Symbols

The design elements library "DFD, Gane-Sarson notation" contains 12 symbols of Gane-Sarson DFD notation.

DFD Gane Sarson notation symbols

Pic. 6. DFD, Gane-Sarson notation symbols

The design elements library "DFD, Yourdon and Coad notation" contains 22 symbols of Yourdon/DeMarco DFD notation.

DFD  Yourdon Coad notation symbols

Pic. 7. DFD, Yourdon and Coad notation symbols

Use these DFD symbol libraries to design the process-oriented models, data-oriented models, data flowcharts, data process diagrams, structured analysis diagrams, and information flow diagrams.

"A data flow diagram (DFD) is a graphical representation of the "flow" of data through an information system, modeling its process aspects. Often they are a preliminary step used to create an overview of the system which can later be elaborated. DFDs can also be used for the visualization of data processing (structured design). A DFD shows what kinds of information will be input to and output from the system, where the data will come from and go to, and where the data will be stored. It does not show information about the timing of processes, or information about whether processes will operate in sequence or in parallel (which is shown on a flowchart)." [Data flow diagram. Wikipedia]

Pic. 8. DFD Library - Design elements

Data Flow Diagrams Sample:

Use Product:

  • Data Flow Diagrams Software
  • UML Diagrams Software
  • Vector Drawing Tools
  • Cross Platform Compatibility
  • Presentation Mode
  • Over 2 000 vector stencils
  • Export to vector graphics files

Use Solution:

  • Graphical representation of the "flow" of data through an information system
  • Modeling process aspects
  • An overview of the system
  • For the visualization of data processing (structured design)
  • What kinds of information will be input to and output from the system
  • Where the data will come from and go to
  • Where the data will be stored

Compatibility: Apple® OS X 10.10 or later
Microsoft® Windows® 7/8.1/10

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