Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM) is a method for building conceptual information models. Such models can then be automatically transformed into entity-relationship models (ERM), Unified Modeling Language (UML), relational or dimensional models with the FCO-IM Bridge toolset, and it is possible to generate complete end-user applications from them with the IMAGine toolset. Both toolsets were developed by the Research and Competence Group Data Architectures & Metadata Management of the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Arnhem, the Netherlands.


FCO-IM is widely taught in the Netherlands and worldwide, amongst which are universities of Professional Education in the Netherlands. The method has proven its value, and is still actively used in multiple large-scale corporate environments. Branches covered vary from retail, logistics, banking, insurance to medical companies .

FCO-IM includes an operational procedure specifying how to construct an information model,[1] and is supported by software tools such as CaseTalk and Infagon.

The distinguishing feature of FCO-IM is that it models the communication about a certain Universe of Discourse (UoD) completely and exclusively, i.e.: it does not model the UoD itself, but rather the facts users exchange when they communicate about the UoD. FCO-IM is therefore a member of the family of information modeling techniques known as fact-oriented modeling (FOM), as are Object-Role Modeling (ORM), predicator set model (PSM) and natural language information analysis method (NIAM). Fact-oriented modeling is sometimes also indicated as fact-based modeling.

There are two main reasons why FCO-IM claims to be "fully communication-oriented".

  1. FCO-IM is the only FOM technique that completely incorporates the actual verbalizations of facts by domain experts (fact expressions) in an information model. An FCO-IM model therefore contains the soft semantics – i.e.: the meaning of the facts – as well as the hard semantics – i.e.: the fact types and the constraints. These verbalizations can be regenerated verbatim at any time from an FCO-IM model, for validation and verification purposes.
  2. FCO-IM uses a very simple and small set of meta-concepts, by abolishing the unnecessary distinction between fact types and object types: all object types are fact types as well. In other words: object types are not modeled independently from the communication, but as inextricable parts of the communication itself; FCO-IM never leaves the communication domain.

Consequently, FCO-IM is the only conceptual modeling technique that completely complies with the 100% conceptualization principle.[2]

An Example

From investigating the UoD a number of fact expressions can be specified. Below such a fact expression is stated for City of Residence:

 "Student Peter Johnson lives in New York."
  • This fact can be qualified and classified.
  • The information can be shown graphically in which the original fact expression can be found.
  • As soon as more fact expressions are added, a larger diagram will be presented.
  • The model can be extended with constraints.


  1. Bakema, Guido; Zwart, Jan Pieter; van der Lek, Harm (2002). Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM). FCO-IM Consultancy., English translation of: Volledig Communicatiegeoriënteerde Informatiemodellering, Academic Service
  2. Griethuysen, J.J. (1982) editor, Concepts and terminology for the conceptual schema and the information base, Publ. nr. ISO/TC97/SCS-N695

Further reading

  • Zwart, Engelbart, Hoppenbrouwer (2015), Fact Oriented Modeling with FCO-IM, Technics Publications, ISBN 9781634620864CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Peter Alons (2014), About facts and things, Brave New Books, ISBN 9789402114485
  • Zwart, van der Lek, Bakema (2011), Volledig communicatiegeoriënteerde informatiemodellering FCO-IM (in Dutch), Academic Service, ISBN 9789012581158CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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