What’s Right with the Zachman Framework

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I just finished reading Graeme Simsion’s article What’s Wrong With The Zachman Framework? and found his opinions to be quite shallow.  His opinions show a limited exposure to the basic interrogatives–only as John Zachman has portrayed them–and a lack of knowledge that every modeling language uses combinations of the interrogatives to convey meaning.  The interrogatives are rarely dealt with individually and even Zachman makes this mistake in his examples regarding the focuses.

First, Simsion attacks the limitation of six perspectives.  He advocates adding a volume and cost perspective to the interrogatives.  He doesn’t realize that volume and value are irrelevant because the six interrogatives are scalable.  Second, the architecture metaphor is challenged.  Simsion never abstracted Zachman’s model.  If he had he would realize that the architectural metaphor conceals what the six perspectives are actually about:  Entities, Relationships, Attributes, Constraints, Definitions and Manipulations.  Third, Simsion claims there is no evidence of the plausibility of the Zachman Framework.  He fails to recognize that every modeling system is using the interrogatives to only partial effect and deriving significant benefits in quantity and quality of product.  There at this time is no product that integrates all of the interrogatives in the Zachman Framework.  Simsion also criticizes the framework for his inability to incorporate object oriented projects into it.  The reason for this is because he doesn’t realize that objects must be treated as attributes not as entities as laid down by Chris Date in his Third Manifesto.


The truth is the interrogatives have a foundation that goes back over three thousand years across every human culture.  A human system has six scalable characteristics:  Who, What, When, Where, How and Why.  A non-human system has four scalable characteristics:  What, When, Where and How.  I don’t recall anyone asking Einstein about Volume or Cost when he wrote E=mc².

Simsion’s article is a tribute to ignorance.  John Zachman’s interpretation only scratches the surface.