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Short Description

An Actor is someone or something that can act, i.e. actually do things, execute actions, such as people or machines. Actors will generally execute actions in different ways, depending on the context, or the party on whose behalf they act.

An organization is not considered to be an actor. Organizations cannot drink beer, (digitally or manually) sign and/or encrypt documents, hire people, buy computers, etc. They need actors (people, machines, etc) to act on their behalf. This is elaborated further on in the Parties, Actors and Actions pattern.


The ability to distinguish between (non)actors allows one to determine which (kinds of) actors are capable of executing which (kinds of) actions, specifically since organizations do not qualify as an actor (they need actors to get things done).


Entity that is capable of actually executing actions (acting, doing things).


  • People (human beings) obviously qualify, as do robots and other machines.
  • Stones, pictures, ideas, etc. do not qualify.
  • Software applications qualify, provided they are actually running on hardware. An app that is just sitting e.g. on a mobile phone but isn't executed does not qualify.
  • Enterprises, governments, and other organizations do not qualify.