Data flow diagram is graphical representation of flow of data in an information system. It is capable of depicting incoming data flow, outgoing data flow and stored data. The DFD does not mention anything about how data flows through the system.

There is a prominent difference between DFD and Flowchart. The flowchart depicts flow of control in program modules. DFDs depict flow of data in the system at various levels. DFD does not contain any control or branch elements.

Types of DFD

Data Flow Diagrams are either Logical or Physical.

  • Logical DFD – This type of DFD concentrates on the system process, and flow of data in the system. For example in a Banking software system, how data is moved between different entities.
  • Physical DFD – This type of DFD shows how the data flow is actually implemented in the system. It is more specific and close to the implementation.

DFD Components

DFD can represent Source, destination, storage and flow of data using the following set of components:

1.1 DFD_components

  • Entities – Entities are source and destination of information data. Entities are represented by a rectangles with their respective names.
  • Process – Activities and action taken on the data are represented by Circle or Round-edged rectangles.
  • Data Storage – There are two variants of data storage – it can either be represented as a rectangle with absence of both smaller sides or as an open-sided rectangle with only one side missing.
  • Data Flow – Movement of data is shown by pointed arrows. Data movement is shown from the base of arrow as its source towards head of the arrow as destination.

Levels of DFD

  • Level 0 – Highest abstraction level DFD is known as Level 0 DFD, which depicts the entire information system as one diagram concealing all the underlying details. Level 0 DFDs are also known as context level DFDs.

1.2 DFD_level_zero

  • Level 1 – The Level 0 DFD is broken down into more specific, Level 1 DFD. Level 1 DFD depicts basic modules in the system and flow of data among various modules. Level 1 DFD also mentions basic processes and sources of information.

1.3 DFD_level_one

  • Level 2 – At this level, DFD shows how data flows inside the modules mentioned in Level 1.

Higher level DFDs can be transformed into more specific lower level DFDs with deeper level of understanding unless the desired level of specification is achieved.

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