Creating an ontology for Sharing Platforms

As a proof-of-concept of how our digital platform ontology helps describing and clarifying the functionality of digital platforms, we create an ontology for sharing platforms.

Ontology modules

First, based on the properties in our taxonomy we select the modules of a sharing platform following the definition of Frenken and Schor. After, we follow a number of steps to create the sharing platform ontology

  1. Download Visual Paradigm Community Edition, and install the OntoUML plugin (

2. Download the latest version of the extended DPO on and open it with Visual Paradigm Community Edition. All ontology modules (original and BM) can be visualised within the class diagrams.

3. Create a new class diagram for the platform type you want to model.

4. The classes of each module are gathered in a separate package visualized in the class repository of Visual Paradigm. These module packages are again grouped within their property as summarized in table 1. Go through each relevant module from top to down, and drag and drop the classes into the newly created class diagram. Automatically the color indicating the UFO stereotype, relationships between the classes and their multiplicities are visualized, with the module name of each class between brackets.

5. Classes not relevant to the modeler’s purpose can be deleted, and a subclass can be placed over a parent class when the subclass better defines the relationships and constraints needed to model the envisioned shared platform.

Eventually, the model shows that sharing platform visitors get to the website or mobile app and must perform a registration action before they can use the platform services. A registered user can create listings (for which this user becomes the offering creator). A platform visitor can perform listing searches (the user then becomes a target platform customer), after which a booking can be created between the users of both sides. The target platform customer that initiates the transaction (from now one referred to as ‘booking’, a transaction for services) then becomes a(n) (effective) platform customer, whereas the offering creator of the target listing becomes a platform provider. This booking can then be fulfilled by a service delivery to the platform customer. The delivery must involve a service and a physical good which is also used by the provider during or in between the service delivery(s) to comply with the under-utilization requirement. And both the provider and customer are private persons to comply with the Customer-to-Customer (C2C) requirement.