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Concept help - Object Class

An Object Class defines a way of identifying or classifying a set of real objects, ideas or events that all share common measurable attributes.

An object class represents a person, organisation, structure or event that is of interest and needs to be described. Examples of object classes include Person, Dwelling and Family.

The union of a specific object class with a specific property creates a data element concept. For example, some of the above mentioned object classes can be combined with an Religious affiliation property to create the data element concepts: Person — religious affiliation and Family — religious affiliation.

Object classes can be specialisations of other object classes. For example, Adult is an age group related specialisation of Person.

Specialisations allow object classes to be grouped and subtyped in a meaningful manner and help users in browsing and locating relevant object classes. In a specialisation tree an object class can only be associated with a single parent object class but may have more than one child object classes. A child object class inherits all characteristics of its parent object class, but a child object class may have unique characteristics.

ISO/IEC 11179-3 Section

Object_Class is a class each instance of which models an object class (3.2.88). An object class is a concept (3.2.18) that represents a set of ideas, abstractions, or things in the real world that can be identified with explicit boundaries and meaning and whose properties and behavior follow the same rules. It may be either a single or a group of associated concepts, abstractions, or things.

An Object_Class may have a data_element_concept_object_class association ( with zero or more Data_Element_Concepts (, where the object class describes the ideas, abstractions or things in the real world that are represented by the data element concepts (3.2.29).

Example: The Object_Class "Person" could be associated with the Data_Element_Concept "Person height".

Tips for creating Object Classes

Object classes are things we wish to collect information about. Good names for object classes are short, descriptive nouns.
  • Be generic: An object class should apply to the widest group possible. Only make more specific classes, if there are particular attributes only found on the specialisation. e.g. Person, not Australian Citizens
  • Use singlar forms: When discusing individuals, use singular terms to ensure unambiguity. For example, a Person can have an age, but a Group of people has an average age.

Fields available on this metadata type

Field ISO definition
Name The primary name used for human identification purposes.
Definition Representation of a concept by a descriptive statement which serves to differentiate it from related concepts. (3.2.39)
Version Unique version identifier of this metadata item.
References Significant documents that contributed to the development of the metadata item which were not the direct source for the metadata content.
Origin The source (e.g. document, project, discipline or model) for the item (
Comments Descriptive comments about the metadata item (
Deleted The date after which the item has been soft deleted and is no longer visible in the registry

Official Definition

Set of ideas, abstractions or things in the real world that are identified with explicit boundaries and meaning and whose properties and behaviour follow the same rules ISO/IEC 11179 - Clause 3.2.88