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Conceptual modelling for the rest of us


Overview of ConML

If you need to collect, transform and manage data as part of your work, then you also need to think carefully about the structure of those data before you start working with them. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to manually rework large amounts of information, or even being unable to use your data for its intended purpose.

Take, for example, an archaeologist performing a field survey and recording information about what is found. Sensible questions to ask before the survey even starts include:

  • What predefined types of things, such as artefacts, structures or sites, should I consider?
  • Should I also record things of other types that I have not anticipated, such as an interesting toponym?
  • What properties (dimensions, materials, location...) should I describe for each of those predefined types?
  • What level of detail should I use to describe things? For example, should I describe the location of artefacts in 3D centimetre coordinates or simply by referring them to the nearest town?
  • What relationships among things should I record?
  • Should I use any particular terminology in order to make my data compatible with other existing data sets?

Questions like these can be answered by creating a conceptual model of the reality that we plan to face, and then enacting that model against that reality. Conceptual modelling is the set of techniques that allow us to create and perfect such models.

ConML is a conceptual modelling language that has been constructed from scratch with three major goals in mind:

  • Ease of use for non-experts in information technologies.
  • Simplicity.
  • Expressiveness in complex domains, such as those in the humanities.

By using ConML, you will be able to create conceptual models and use them in your everyday work. For more information, please see Resources.

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