There are essentially two different types of notations for data flow diagrams (Yourdon & Coad or Gane & Sarson) defining different visual representations for processes, data stores, data flow and external entities.
Yourdon and Coad type data flow diagrams are usually used for system analysis and design, while Gane and Sarson type DFDs are more common for visualizing information systems.
Visually, the biggest difference between the two ways of drawing data flow diagrams is how processes look. In the Yourdon and Coad way, processes are depicted as circles, while in the Gane and Sarson diagram the processes are squares with rounded corners.
Process Notations. A process transforms incoming data flow into outgoing data flow.
Datastore Notations. Datastores are repositories of data in the system. They are sometimes also referred to as files.
Dataflow Notations. Dataflows are pipelines through which packets of information flow. Label the arrows with the name of the data that moves through it.
External Entity Notations. External entities are objects outside the system, with which the system communicates. External entities are sources and destinations of the system's inputs and outputs.
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