The Orange Report ISO TR9007 (1982 - 1987) Grandparent of the Business Rules Approach and SBVR Part 5 - The Effects of the Orange Report

Joost J.  Van Griethuysen
Joost J. Van Griethuysen Member, Board of the Dutch SBVR Foundation Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by Joost J. Van Griethuysen


The ISO Orange Report TR 9007Concepts and Terminology for the Conceptual Schema and the Information Base is a widely acclaimed early publication that recognized the importance of formalizing semantics of information:  To understand the information needs of an enterprise we need models of the enterprise, the things and affairs it must know about, and the parts of the enterprise involved in information exchanges. This column is the last in a series giving some of the history of this Report and summarizing its basic subjects.  In the previous instalments we learned a bit about the history of the ISO TC97/SC5/WG3 Working Group and the fundamental principles the group developed, explored the basic facts outlined in the Orange Report, and summarized the modelling approaches it supports.  In this concluding instalment the author recaps the impact that the Orange Report has had and concludes with his perspective on how the Orange Report relates to SBVR.

The Effects

Nowadays the concepts of Universe of Discourse, Conceptual Schema, and the emphasis on the semantics of information are widely accepted, even though the pre-eminent role of the Orange Report in bringing them to the attention of the IT and enterprise modelling communities may not always be recognised.

Known application and realization of modelling approaches based on the Report include:

A number of standardization activities have taken up the ideas and extended their application.  Among them, to mention some:

  • The ISO Reference Model for Open Distributed Processing (ODP),[ISO1996]
  • The ISO standard for SQL,
  • The Unified Modelling Language (UML),[ISO2005] 
  • The OMG Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR).[SBVR2008] 

How the Orange Report Relates to SBVR

SBVR was developed to model the real world of the business.  The SBVR specification (Clause 1 Scope) says:

This specification is applicable to the domain of business vocabularies and business rules of all kinds of business activities of all kinds of organizations.  It is conceptualized optimally for business people rather than automated rules processing, and is designed to be used for business purposes, independent of information systems designs.  This specification is applicable as input to transformations by IT staff into information system designs, using a combination of decisions from system architects and Platform Independent Model designers together with software tool function.

The aim of SBVR (Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules) clearly is closely similar to that of the Orange Report:  to come to a sound and practical way of modelling an enterprise, business, organization — in short, a part of a world — about which knowledge and information is needed.  There is a high degree of commonality.

Both recognize the basic requirement to come to a common and well-understood means of communication — to come to good speaking terms.  SBVR's requirement of common vocabularies is equivalent to the Helsinki Principle.

The universe of discourse is the starting point in both.  The environment of users sharing a view on (parts of) a universe of discourse is a semantic community.  The information system is not explicitly stated in SBVR but clearly implicitly present.  The conceptual schema as a model of the enterprise or a part thereof — a model of a universe of discourse — is recognized in both.

SBVR's requirement and practical examples of various parts of the EU-Rent enterprise respond to the Metaphor of the Searchlights.  Both recognize the fundamental necessity of viewpoints.  If one overall model is wanted, then it is the union of models of various parts of the business to be modelled and described.

The Orange Report stresses the Conceptualization Principle and the 100% Principle explicitlySBVR does that implicitly by concentrating fully on the enterprise and including all factual and behavioural rules of the enterprise.

The Metamodel approach, advocated in SBVR, is comparable to the purpose of the Onion Principle.  Both stress that a model should be formally described and fundamentally based on formal logic.  Both emphasize that the modelling language used should be very close to the natural language of the enterprise.

The distinction between meaning and representation and concentrating on the modelling of the meaning in both adheres to the Conceptual level of the Three Level Architecture.

The basic facts are presented in both, although sometimes differently named (synonyms):

SBVR                .
Orange Report                   .
thing entity
object entity
state of affairs state of affairs, proposition[1]
linguistic unit linguistic object
term term
name name, lexical object
statement sentence
object type type of an entity
instance instance, occurrence

Both contain a glossary of definitions to support, in particular, generalizations and abstractions and language constructs to express those in a chosen language.  Both support also definitions for modelling the dynamic, behavioural, and temporal aspects.

The SBVR glossary is more extensive, where the Orange Report limits itself intentionally to the more generally needed ones.  But that is to be expected as the SBVR formulates a general modelling approach — clearly an IPL approach as identified in the Orange Report — where the Orange Report is directed to fundamentals for conceptual modelling approaches.

It is good to acknowledge that now, some 25 years later, the application of formal model descriptions in structured English (or any other controlled natural language) has become reality.  The integration of the various disciplines in SBVR is a major accomplishment.

In all this, SBVR fully adheres[ISO1985] to the Orange Report.


I would like to acknowledge Martin King — my friend and comrade in thoughts and words, who already pointed out in Helsinki in 1978 that "It all depends on who puts it there" — for his help again to put it all there.

I'm always wrong, I guess, but I have painted my picture.  So now, most honourable Reader and Perceiver, the view is all yours!

Casteren, 30 years since Helsinki,



[1]  In SBVR the proposition is an abstraction of a state of affairs, which is in itself a conceivable state of affairs, a proposition.  return to article


[GRIET1983]  J.J. van Griethuysen and D.A. Jardine, The INFOMOD Approach to Information Modelling.  Parts I, II and III, Internal Philips Publication, 1983.  return to article

[GRIET1988]  J.J. van Griethuysen and D.A. Jardine, INFOMOD, een Samenvatting.  Academic Service, Schoonhoven, The Netherlands, 1988.  return to article

[GRIET1991]  J.J. van Griethuysen, "Enterprise Modelling, a necessary basis for modern information systems," Proceedings of the IFIP TC 6.1 Conference - Berlin, 1991.  return to article

[HAL1989]  T. Halpin, A Logical Analysis of Information Systems:  static aspects of the data-oriented perspective.  PhD thesis, University of Queensland, 1989.  return to article

[HAL2000a]  T. Halpin, "Integrating fact-oriented modeling with object-oriented modeling," Information Modeling for the new Millenium, K Siau and M Rossi (eds.).  Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, 2000.  return to article

[HAL2000b]  T. Halpin, "Modeling collections in UML and ORM," Proc EMMSAD’00: 5th IFIP WG8.1 Int Workshop on Evaluation of Modeling Methods in Systems Analysis and Design, Kista, Sweden, 2000.  return to article

[HAL2001]  T. Halpin, Information Modeling and Relational Databases.  Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 2001.  return to article

[HAL2002]  T. Halpin, "Information Analysis in UML and ORM:  a Comparison," Advanced Topics in Database Research, vol. 1, K Siau (ed.).  Idea Pub. Group, Hershey, 2002.  return to article

[ISO1985]  ISO/TC97/SC5/WG3 (J.J. van Griethuysen and M.H. King, eds.), Assessment Guidelines for Conceptual Schema Language Proposals, ISO/TC97/SC21 N 236.  ANSI, New York, 1985.  return to article

[ISO1996]  ISO/IEC IS-10746, Reference Model for Open Distributed Processing (ODP).  International Standards Organization, Central Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland, 1996.  return to article

[ISO2005]  ISO/IEC 19501, Unified Modeling Language Specification,Version 1.4.2.  International Standards Organization, Central Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland, 2005.  return to article

[JARD1987a]  D.A. Jardine and J.J. van Griethuysen, "A Logic-based Information Modelling Language," Data & Knowledge Engineering, 2-1 (1987), pp. 59-81, North-Holland Publishing Company, 1987.

[JARD1987b]  D.A. Jardine and J.J. van Griethuysen, "Specification of Information Systems Operations in INFOMOD," Data & Knowledge Engineering, 2-3 (1987), pp. 170-190, North-Holland Publishing Company, 1987.  return to article

[JARD1992]  D.A. Jardine and J.J. van Griethuysen, Information Modelling with INFOMOD, Volume I - Concepts & Information-structure (second revised edition).  MMJ Information Engineering, The Netherlands, 1992.  return to article

[MEERS84]  R. Meersman and D. Vermeir, The RIDL Language User and Reference Manual.  ICIAS Report, Control Data Corp., Brussels, Belgium, 1984.  return to article

[NIJS1980]  G.M. Nijssen, "A Framework for Advanced Mass Storage Applications," Medinfo 80, Proceedings of the Third World Conference on Medical Informatics, North-Holland Publishing Company, 1980.  return to article

[NIJS1989a]  G.M. Nijssen and T.A. Halpin, Conceptual Schema and Relational Database Design: a fact oriented approach.  Prentice–Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA, 1989.  return to article

[NIJS1989b]  G.M. Nijssen, Grondslagen van Bestuurlijke InformatieSystemen.  Nijssen Adviesbureau voor Informatica B.V., The Netherlands, 1989.  return to article

[NIJS2007]  G.M. Nijssen, "A Process to Specify the Most Important Business Rule in SBVR," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 8, No. 12 (Dec. 2007).  return to article

[SBVR2008]  Object Management Group, Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR), v1.0.  OMG Document formal/2008-01-02, Object Management Group, 2008.  return to article

Copyright ©2008 J J van Griethuysen

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Standard citation for this article:

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Joost J. Van Griethuysen, "The Orange Report ISO TR9007 (1982 - 1987) Grandparent of the Business Rules Approach and SBVR Part 5 - The Effects of the Orange Report" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 10, No. 8, (Aug. 2009)

About our Contributor:

Joost  J. Van Griethuysen
Joost J. Van Griethuysen Member, Board of the Dutch SBVR Foundation

Joost’s first contact with — first generation — computers was in the late fifties, and he became totally fascinated with those electronic devices that could help thinking. After his studies of electronics, mathematics, and logic (then considered a remarkable combination — Computer Science did not yet exist as a subject) he began as an electronics engineer for computer hardware, but soon in the late sixties he changed to software engineering, specializing in information system design and information engineering. He was one of the first to use formal logic as a basis for information engineering and enterprise modelling.

In ISO TC97/SC5/WG3 - Conceptual Schema, he was the editor and as well as a co-author of the ISO Report TR9007 "Concepts and Terminology for the Conceptual Schema and Information Base." Later, he was the first Convener of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC21/WG7 - Open Distributed Processing (ODP). He participated in many other groups on Data Base Technology and Information System Design.

Since his retirement from Philips in the nineties Joost has concentrated particularly on his other profession/passion: Marine Painting. However, he still is very much interested in the subject of conceptual modelling, enterprise modelling, and SBVR. He is member of the Board of the Dutch SBVR Foundation. He is, of course, a member of the Business Rules Community. Joost can be reached at

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