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FCO-IM Overview

Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM) is a powerful technique for building conceptual information models. Such models can be automatically transformed into ERM, UML, Relational or Dimensional models [FCO-IM Bridgetools], and it is possible to generate complete end-user applications from them [IMAGine toolset].


FCO-IM is being taught in universities in the Netherlands and abroad. It has proven its practical value in large projects in national and international big companies and is used by IT services companies to develop corporate conceptual data models or design datawarehouses and datamarts.


FCO-IM includes a detailed operational procedure specifying how to draw up an information model [see book on fco-im], and is supported by intelligent software tools [such as CaseTalk and Infagon].


The distinguishing feature of FCO-IM is that it models the communication about a certain Universe of Discourse (UoD) completely and exclusively, i.e.: it does not model the UoD itself, but rather the facts users exchange when they communicate about the UoD. Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM) is therefore a member of the family of information modeling techniques known as Fact Oriented Modeling (FOM), as are Object Role Modeling (ORM) [1], Predicator Set Model (PSM) [2] and Natural language Information Analysis Method (NIAM) [3].


There are two main reasons why FCO-IM claims to be ‘fully communication oriented’. First, FCO-IM is the only FOM family member that completely incorporates the actual verbalizations of facts by domain experts (fact expressions) in an information model. An FCO-IM model therefore contains the soft semantics – i.e.: the meaning of the facts – as well as the hard semantics – i.e.: the fact types and the constraints. These verbalizations can be regenerated verbatim at any time from an FCO-IM model, for validation and verification purposes. Second, FCO-IM uses a very simple and small set of meta-concepts, by having abolished the unnecessary distinction between fact types and object types: in FCO-IM all object types are fact types as well. In other words: object types are not modeled independently from the communication, but as inextricable parts of the communication itself; FCO-IM never leaves the communication domain. Consequently FCO-IM is the only conceptual modeling technique that completely complies with the 100% conceptualization principle [4].


[1]: see www.orm.net

[2]: see http://sky.fit.qut.edu.au/~terhofst/cve.html and references therein

[3]: see www.niam2007.nl

[4]: see Griethuysen, J.J. (1982) editor, Concepts and terminology for the conceptual schema and the information base, Publ. nr. ISO/TC97/SCS-N695