picture denoting insight

IT Reflections

picture by Chamblin1 via Flickr

I’m going to do something different this month and reflect on some observations of the IT industry. My comments will focus on database-related topics. This is a smattering of ideas that is not intended to be comprehensive. I’m hoping that this article will stimulate dialogue. I welcome comments on my opinions as well as your own insights.

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Derived Data

Be Careful with Derived Data

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We often perform database reverse engineering as part of our consulting work. We have found that it’s common for databases to contain derived data. Derived data is data that can be computed from other base data. Often, the storing of derived data is a mistake and it would have been better if developers instead computed on the fly.

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Revised ERwin model after DBRE

A Database Reverse Engineering Case Study

In a blog last year we discussed database archaeology, which is another name for database reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is the inverse to normal development. We start with an application and work backwards to understand the software and infer its content.

This month we’ll take a further look at database reverse engineering, from the perspective of a simple case study. We’ll reverse engineer the database beneath WordPress and populated with a snapshot of the data for this website. The case study illustrates mechanics and the kinds of insights that reverse engineering can provide.

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A suggestive picture for the concept of database grading.

Database Grading, Part 2: Database Models

picture by Greg via Flickr

This article is the second in a series of two blogs that present our grading scale for database quality. We assign separate grades for the quality of a database design (previous blog) and the underlying model (this blog). The design grade measures the quality of the database syntax. The model grade measures the quality of the semantic concepts underlying the database. Applications can have different design and model grades.

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A suggestive picture for the concept of database grading.

Database Grading, Part 1: Database Designs

picture by Greg via Flickr

While working on database projects, we often find ourselves doing reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is the inverse to normal development. Developers start with an application and work backwards to understand the software and infer its intent. Reverse engineering can apply to a variety of artifacts, such as hardware, programming code, and databases. Our focus here is on relational databases.

There are many reasons for database reverse engineering. One reason is to assess software quality. For example, you may want to assess the quality of a vendor product or an internal legacy application. Information systems revolve about a database, so you can use database quality as an indicator of software quality.

This article is the first in a series of two blogs that present our grading scale for database quality. We assign separate grades for the quality of a database design (this blog) and the underlying model (next blog). The design grade measures the quality of the database syntax. The model grade measures the quality of the semantic concepts underlying the database. Applications can have different design and model grades.

Continue reading Database Grading, Part 1: Database Designs