Cradle from 3SL, the complete Model Based Systems Engineering Toolsuite, specialising in requirements management, requirements capture, model based systems engineering and for systems engineering software, support and consultancy, the logical choice: Cradle from 3SL.
login Register forgot password or username?

Welcome to 3SL Reference Section

Entity Relationship Diagrams Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD)

Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD)

ERDs can be considered as graphical representations of data definitions. Information modelling is concerned with the definition of data within the system in terms of its meaning, composition and relationships. One of the methods within Cradle that can be used to represent information modelling is the use of an ERD. ERDs graphically show how different pieces of information are related.

DFDs show the flow of information through the system but play no part in defining the information, apart from being a useful place from which to access data definitions. Flows and stores on DFDs are essentially representations of information that is defined elsewhere.

While the DFD models the active processing of information by the system, the ERD models the static relationships amongst this information that are preserved and maintained by the system. The ERD shows how items of data relate, statically, to each other. ERDs cannot exist in a hierarchy, instead, either a single ERD is produced for the entire system analysis or design (when the ERD is considered to relate to the entire DFD hierarchy), and/or ERDs can be produced as companions to specific DFDs that contain a large quantity of stored data, and contain the processes that create, update, or otherwise maintain the stored data.

ERDs are available in both the Essential and Implementation Domain.

Numbering of ERDs

Cradle does not restrict the numbering of ERDs, they can be used in whatever manner is appropriate.


An example ERD is:

Screenshot of an Entity Relationship Diagram

The symbols available in ERDs are:

Symbol Name Description Definition Expansion
Comment Comment Makes a note anywhere in the diagram. Are always surrounded by * characters. None None
Data Object Data Object An item of data operated upon by the system. Data definition None
Relationship Relationship A relationship between one or more Data Objects, as one of: one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many. Data definition None
Subtype/Supertype Relationship Subtype/Supertype Relationship A relationship between (normally) three or more Data Objects, used in the situation where one Data Object contains data elements common to two or more other Data Objects (such as an object machine containing data items price, weight, and size, and two other Data Objects, lathe and drill, containing data elements unique to each machine type). None None
Connection Connection A link between a Data Object and a Relationship. None None
Sub/Super Connection Sub/Super
A link between Data Objects and Relationships or Sub/Supertype Relationships. None None
Associative Connection Associative
A link between an unnamed Relationship and a named Data Object that indicates that the Relationship contains data in addition to the relationship between the Data Objects. None None
Picture Picture Allows you to choose the location of a GIF or JPEG image to be displayed as a diagram symbol or to be embedded in an existing diagram symbol. None None