Constructing Data Flow Diagrams(DFD)

Context DFDs and Level 1 DFDs :

In our course, we need to understand and be able to draw 2 types of Data Flow Diagrams, they are Context Level DFD’s and Level 1 DFDs (There maybe further version such as level 2,level 3 etc for more detailed explanation of your system). In this blog, I will hopefully make it easier to understand the differences between the two types of DFDs and help understand how to draw a DFD. Firstly we will look at Context level DFD with an example. Then we will look at Level 1 DFD with an example.

(1)  Context Level DFDs :

A context level DFD is the most basic form of DFD. It aims to show how the entire system works at a glance. There is only one process in this type of DFD system and all the data flows either into or out of this process. Context level DFD demonstrates the interactions between the process and external entities. They do not contain Data Stores.

When drawing Context Level DFD’s, we must first identify the process, all the external entities and all the data flows. We must also state any assumptions we make about the system. It is advised that we draw the process in the middle of the page. We then draw our external entities in the corners and finally connect our entities to our process with the data flows.

Below is an example of a Context Level DFD:

(2)  Level 1 DFDs :

Level 1 DFDs aim to give an overview of the full system. They look at the sytem in more detail. Major processes are broken down into sub-processes.Additionally, Level 1 DFDs also indentifies data stores that are used by the major processes.

When constructing a Level 1 DFD, we must start by examining the Context Level DFD. We must break up the single process into its sub-processes. We must then pick out the data stores from the text we are given and include them in our DFD. Like the Context Level DFD’s, all entities, data stores and processes must be labelled. We must also state any assumptions made from the text.

Below is an example of a Level 1 DFD:

  • A DFD that contains processes which can not be further broken down is called Primitive DFD.
  • Similarly a DFD that contains the processes which can be further broken down is called Non-Premetive DFD.


  1. There are some system data flow diagram examples in creately diagram community to help draw data flows.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. It was really helpful.

  3. This is nice blog. Contents over here are so informative. For more about dfd, visit here. Example of drawing DFD diagram up to level 2