Collaborative conceptual schema design: A process model and prototype system

Sudha Ram, V. Ramesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Recent years have seen an increased interest in providing support for collaborative activities among groups of users participating in various information systems design tasks such as, requirements determination and process modeling. However, little attention has been paid to the collaborative conceptual database design process. In this article, we develop a model of the collaborative conceptual schema development process and describe the design and implementation of a graphical multiuser conceptual schema design tool that is based on the model. The system we describe allows a group of users to work collaboratively on the creation of database schemas in a synchronous (same-time) mode (either in a face-to-face or distributed setting). Extensive modeling support is provided to assist users in creating semantically correct conceptual schemas. The system also provides users with several graphical facilities such as, a large drawing workspace with the ability to scroll or "jump" to any portion of this workspace, zooming capabilities, and the ability to move object(s) to any portion of the workspace. The unique component of the system, however, is its built-in support for collaborative schema design. The system supports a relaxed WYSIWIS environment, i.e., each user can control the graphical layout of the same set of schema objects. The system ensures that changes/additions made by any user are immediately reflected at other user workstations and that all users' schemas are consistent. Any conflicts that may compromise the integrity of the shared schema are flagged and resolved by the system. The results from a preliminary experiment suggest that the use of our system in a collaborative mode improved information sharing among users, minimized conflicts, and led to a more comprehensive schema definition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-371
Number of pages25
JournalACM Transactions on Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • Collaboration
  • Conceptual modeling
  • Database design
  • Design
  • Graphical CASE tools
  • Groupware
  • H.2.1 [Logical Design]
  • H.4 [Information Systems]
  • K.6.3 [Software Development]
  • Management
  • Semantic modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Computer Science Applications


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