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 Design Principles

A set of design principles has been identified during the course of the various DDI sprints. The list is shown below:

  1. Interoperability and Standards – The model is optimized to facilitate interoperability with other relevant standards.
  2. Simplicity – The model is as simple as possible and easily understandable by different stakeholders.
  3. User Driven – User perspectives inform the model to ensure that it meets the needs of the international DDI user community.
  4. Terminology – The model uses clear terminology and when possible, uses existing terms and definitions.
  5. Iterative Development – The model is developed iteratively, bringing in a range of views from the user community.
  6. Documentation – The model includes and is supplemented by robust and accessible documentation.
  7. Lifecycle Orientation – The model supports the full research data lifecycle and the statistical production process, facilitating replication and the scientific method.
  8. Reuse and Exchange – The model supports the reuse, exchange, and sharing of data and metadata within and among institutions.
  9. Modularity – The model is modular and these modules can be used independently.
  10. Stability – The model is stable and new versions are developed in a controlled manner.
  11. Extensibility – The model has a common core and is extensible.
  12. Tool Independence – The model is not dependent on any specific IT setting or tool.
  13. Innovation – The model supports both current and new ways of documenting, producing, and using data and leverages modern technologies.
  14. Actionable Metadata – The model provides actionable metadata that can be used to drive production and data collection processes.

Additional lower-level principles have surfaced during initial DDI model development:

  • Remodeling Discouraged – The model leverages existing structures in the specification whenever possible to avoid inefficiencies.
  • Objects Represent Actual Things – The model includes objects that are functional and are used.
  • Separation of Logical and Physical – The model supports a distinction between logical and physical representations.
  • Names are Mutable – The model contains names and labels that may change to encourage accessibility.
  • Common Expressions – The model will only have features that reflect the common expressive capabilities of supported syntaxes/technologies (e.g., no multiple inheritances)


These principles are needed to inform the design of DDI 4.0, and to assist in decision-making during development and maintenance of the standard in future.