Information Architecture News

Good definitions – part 2

An earlier post introduced the 2 parts of a good definition and discussed Part 1 – identify the class or set of things to which the business term belongs, and then differentiates that term from all others in the class or set. This post discusses Part 2.

Part 2, which is optional, contains usage guidelines or how to apply the concept being defined.  Sometimes these guidelines are called business rules.  They can include references to time (spring semester, fiscal year), chronology (Thing A happens before Thing B), sequencing, consequence, or any type of information that a steward thinks will aid in understanding a term.


Anticipated Financial Aid: A form of financial aid that has been awarded, but not disbursed (Part 1). This aid acts as a credit on a student billing statement before the beginning of the academic term. (Part 2, sequence).

Current Past Due: A portion of Student Account Balance that is more than 30 days past due. (Part 1) Student Account Holds are placed on any account with a past due balance greater than $25 and more than 30 days past due. (Part 2, consequence).

Country of Residence: The nation state of which a person is legally recognized as a resident for immigration purposes, (Part 1) which may or may not be the same as country of citizenship. Associated permissions, requirements, and documentation will vary by country. Residency may also refer to a tax relationship, which is usually tied to primary residence or domicile. (Part 2, additional information).

Great examples of Data Cookbook embedded into BI environment

Institutional Research staff from Georgia Tech did a great job show-casing their self-service dashboard for report delivery (available publicly) at the Data Cookbook User Group meeting.

Their IR team offers 6 self service reports and a term definition search widget.  Design elements are clean and easy to understand:

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.13.07 PM


Clicking the Enrollment Report square generates a report on the fly, with user-controlled filters by date and full/part time.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.13.47 PM


Clicking the small “?” icon near the report title – Enrollment By Major… calls the API to display the report specification from Data Cookbook.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.14.08 PM

Hovering the “?” near each column label displays the definition for that term via another Cookbook API.  In this screen shot, the “Level” column is highlighted.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.14.24 PM


This is the kind of integration between reporting and metadata that we are striving for at Rochester.

Data Cookbook’s Online Users Group Meeting Agenda – April 17

Join us for this engaging online users group meeting at 1:30 pm EST on Thursday, April 17 2014.  Real users from each of these schools will share how they incorporate Data Cookbook on their campus.

API usage with web delivery of public reports – Georgia Tech
API usage in Argos – The New School
Governance and Metadata – Lone Star College System
Data Governance Structures – Vanderbilt University
Musings on definitions – University of Rochester

Any University staff member can register at