A domain model, or Domain Object Model (DOM) in problem solving and software engineering can be thought of as a conceptual model of a domain of interest (often referred to as a problem domain) which describes the various entities, their attributes and relationships, plus the constraints that govern the integrity of the model elements comprising that problem domain.
ü The domain model is created in order to represent the vocabulary and key concepts of the problem domain. The domain model also identifies the relationships among all the entities within the scope of the problem domain, and commonly identifies their attributes. A domain model that encapsulates methods within the entities is more properly associated with object oriented models. The domain model provides a structural view of the domain that can be complemented by other dynamic views, such as Use Case models.
ü An important benefit of a domain model is that it describes and constrains the scope of the problem domain. The domain model can be effectively used to verify and validate the understanding of the problem domain among various stakeholders. It is especially helpful as a communication tool and a focusing point both amongst the different members of the business team as well as between the technical and business teams.
ü A well-thought domain model serves as a clear depiction of the conceptual fabric of the problem domain and therefore is invaluable to ensure all stakeholders are aligned in the scope and meaning of the concepts indigenous to the problem domain. A high fidelity domain model can also serve as an essential input to solution implementation within a software development cycle since the model elements comprising the problem domain can serve as key inputs to code construction, whether that construction is achieved manually or through automated code generation approaches. It is important, however, not to compromise the richness and clarity of the business meaning depicted in the domain model by expressing it directly in a form influenced by design or implementation concerns.
ü The domain model is one of the central artifacts in the project development approach called Feature Driven Development (FDD).
ü In UML, a class diagram is used to represent the domain model. In Domain-driven design, the domain model (Entities and Value objects) is a part of the Domain layer which often also includes other concepts such as Services.
Sample domain model for a health insurance plan
ü In this simplified example, the Auction Manager object represents a Business Worker role that will likely be performed by the online auction management system itself. The Auction and Auction Item objects are Business Entities that are used or produced by the Auction Manager worker acting as an agent for the Seller and Buyer Business Actors. From a database design perspective, the Auction and Auction Item Business Entities are candidate entities for the Conceptual Data Model.
Requirements and Analysis Models
ü For projects that do not perform business modeling, the Requirements (System Use Case) and Analysis Models contain model elements that can be used to develop an initial Conceptual Data Model. For projects that use business modeling, the business entities and relationships identified in the Business Analysis Models are refined and detailed in the Analysis Model as Entity Classes.
System Use-Case Model
The System Use-Case Model contains System Actors and System Use Cases that define the primary interactions of the users with the system. The System Use Cases define the functional requirements for the system.
ü From a conceptual data modeling perspective, the System Actors represent entities external to the system for which the system might need to store persistent information. This is important in cases where the System Actor is an external system that provides data to and/or receives data from the system under development. System Actors can be derived from the Business Actors in the Business Use-Case Model and the Business Workers in the Business Analysis Model.
ü The figure below depicts the Business Use-Case Model for the online auction system. In this model, the Buyer and Seller Business Actors are now derived from a generic User Business Actor. A new System Actor named Credit Service Bureau has been added to reflect the need to process payments through an external entity. This new System Actor is another candidate entity for the Conceptual Data Model.
The Analysis Model contains the Analysis Classes identified in the Use-Case Realizations for the System Use Cases. The types of Analysis Classes that are of primary interest from a conceptual data modeling perspective are the Entity Analysis Classes. As defined in Guidelines: Analysis Class,
Entity Analysis Classes represent information managed by the system that must be stored in a persistent manner. The Entity Analysis Classes and their relationships form the basis of the initial Data Model for the application.
ü The conceptual Entity Analysis Classes in the Analysis Model might be refined and detailed into logical Persistent Design Classes in the Design Model. These design classes represent candidate tables in the Data Model. The attributes of the classes are candidate columns for the tables and also represent candidate keys for them. See Guidelines: Forward-Engineering Relational Databases for a description of how elements in the Design Model can be mapped to Data Model elements.
Conceptual Class Category List
A conceptual class is a real-world concept or thing; a conceptual or essential perspective. At the noun filtering stage we are looking for conceptual classes. As we move through the design process we will start to design software classes that represent an implementation perspective of a software component but we will not get into language specific classes in 466. A conceptual class is not an implementation class, such as a class that can be implemented in an OO language such as Java or C++