5 Tips for Becoming a Better Data Modeler

  • cs_troyk

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5149

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item 5 Tips for Becoming a Better Data Modeler

  • Bill Wimsatt-448069

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 153

    This article is so "motherhood and apple pie" it says nothing. I do not think the work normalize or denormalize is even used. The author also did not even mention conceptual, logical and physical modelling. These are all extremely important since most data modellers jump right to physical modelling and never understand the data of the application problem that is to be solved.

    If you want some meat and not just a bunch of words, I would highly recommend David Hay as an author and his free papers. David has the best book on data modelling called Conventions of Thought. This book will provide a solid foundation in data modelling. David also has a very good white paper on comparison of data modeling notation (Barker, Chen, UML, etc.). It is very important to understand the difference between notation and technique. Notation is just the (drawing) semantic. Technique is how you actually get the answer and what you do with it. David's website is: http://www.essentialstrategies.com/

    If you are a beginner, I would highly recommend Richard Barker's book on Entity Modelling. Yes, it is from Oracle Press but it has nothing to do with the Oracle product other than solid data modelling notation AND technique. You can find used versions of this book on Amazon for ~$2. Read it. Study it. Live it.

    Here is a link to Amazon for the book: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Method-Entity-Relationship-Modelling/dp/0201416964/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203439277&sr=8-1

    If SQL ServerCentral wants a real article written, feel free to drop me a line.

    Bill

  • cs_troyk

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5149

    Thank you for the comments, Bill.

    Correct - if you're looking for specific examples or "how to", this article isn't it. See my earlier series "Toward Integrity" for that: http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Data+Modeling/61526/.

    The purpose of this article is simply to give the aspiring modeler/designer some direction that's sorely lacking if one approaches the discipline from learning the tools (which, to be fair, is how I started out).

    I second your recommendation of Hay's books. I have two on my bookshelf and will soon be ordering a 3rd by him.

    TroyK

  • Bill Wimsatt-448069

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 153

    Troy,

    Sorry to be so critical. I have been burned by people who use the title "Data Modeller" and they really are not. Or the Object crowd that don't care about the database design and really just want a file system. So, personally, I am very sensitive to this topic and react quite strongly.

    There are few good resources anymore for the beginning data model student. That is why I point to Richard Barker's book. He walks through the initial stages and builds up a very strong business model that is represented in a data model. If you do not have this, spend the couple of $ to get a copy.

    Bill

  • cs_troyk

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5149

    No worries, Bill. I intentionally kept the content a bit light because I specifically wanted to elicit others' opinions and resources here in the discussion. To that end, thanks once again for sharing those resources that you've found helpful.

    TroyK

  • TimothyAWiseman

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8819

    Bill Wimsatt (2/19/2008)


    This article is so "motherhood and apple pie" it says nothing. I do not think the work normalize or denormalize is even used. The author also did not even mention conceptual, logical and physical modelling. These are all extremely important since most data modellers jump right to physical modelling and never understand the data of the application problem that is to be solved.

    Bill

    I partially agree that the content was a little light, but at the same time, what is there is all well written and correct. The fact it includes a list of recommended texts is also a good point. When there are an incredible number of books published even on a fairly specialized topic like data modeling and data base administration, having a well thought out and vetting reading list is itself of great value.

    ---
    Timothy A Wiseman
    SQL Blog: http://timothyawiseman.wordpress.com/

  • cs_troyk

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5149

    Thanks for reading, Timothy.

    Any books, classes, or online resources you've found helpful that haven't yet been mentioned?

    TroyK

  • alittledog

    SSC Rookie

    Points: 47

    I would treat this effort as a class and offer up the following syllabus:

    Materials

    David Hay’s Conventions of Thought, Data Model Patterns

    Richard Barker's Entity Modelling

    Some book on 3rd order predicate calculus—need to find my as a reference

    Installed Local Database (pick one) with SQL only tool (no TOAD et al)

    Goals

    Understand databases

    -Relational vs. Hierarchical

    -ACID test

    Understand conceptual data modeling

    Understand logical data modeling

    -Relationships

    -Attributes

    -Logical PK

    Convert conceptual data model into logical data models

    Understand the rules for first, second and third-normal forms

    Understand the reasons for de-normalizing a physical data model

    Understand components of a database

    -Table

    -Keys

    -Indexes

    -Referential Integrity

    -Views

    -Functions

    -Procedures

    -Triggers

    Understand issues related to data warehousing

    -Summary Tables

    -Star Schemas

    -Point In Time Reporting

    -Changes to Logical PK

    Understand differences between OLAP and OLTP

    Develop a dimensional data model to satisfy Barker’s model

    Perform data manipulation using SQL

    -Simple

    -Complex

    -Nested everything

    -Models

    -Analytic functions

    Class

    Read Barker

    Build Barker as scripts and execute

    Load Barker Structures from your scripts

    Query Barker

    Read Data Model Patterns

    Rinse and repeat for the books

    When you can write a paragraph on everything listed in the Goals, then you have completed data modeling 101-202. Congrats

  • cs_troyk

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5149

    alittledog (2/25/2008)


    I would treat this effort as a class and offer up the following syllabus:

    Materials

    David Hay’s Conventions of Thought, Data Model Patterns

    Richard Barker's Entity Modelling

    Some book on 3rd order predicate calculus—need to find my as a reference

    Installed Local Database (pick one) with SQL only tool (no TOAD et al)

    Greetings, alittledog;

    Definitely agree on the recommendation for Hay's book.

    I agree also on the "(pick one)" recommendation for installing a local db. In fact, one thing I need to do is branch out some and play with MySQL and Postgres. Currently, my only real exposure is MS SQL and Oracle, so it would be good to get some hands on with the other players, too.

    Thanks for the comments and recommendations!

    TroyK

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