As the scale of business application has became bigger and bigger, the complexity of data model and its stakeholders are increased enormously. Now it become more important to set up the standard policy to maintain the data model integrity and readability for better productivity and quality. We call this kind of managing activities as EDM(Enterprise Data model Management) and I would like to explain how to establish the EDM process for data modeling (Not about data modeling technique) in this article by using the BluePrint solution. I hope that the solution would be helpful for you to understand the whole process more practically.
The first step for data modeling is managing the standard meta data dictionary. You can access to BluePrint trial version (Please send an email to email@example.com
for registration) and click Menu->Data Modeling -> Dictionary. There are 5 types of standard meta data such as word, domain, entity, attribute and prohibited word.
You can see the 5 meta data types in the Dictionary UI.
It is important to keep the integrity of standard meta data to improve software quality and productivity in a long-term. Imagine that there are many DB modelers in a project and they design their own entity and attribute without any standard rule. It would be very difficult for the developers, other designers and their successors to understand the real meaning of table and column immediately and it can cause serious problems.
Of course the quality of data model is depend on modeler’s experience, modeling technique and smartness, but in my opinion, when we are involved in a project which has many participants, keeping the process strictly is more important than personal ability for the project because one modeler’s ability can impact only his module but the process can impact to overall project forever. Basically this kind of policy is not for the current designer who create the model, but for other stakeholder like other designers, developers or their successors and for the company who will maintain the system continuously. And this process can be a burden to most of designers and they are reluctant to follow it, so we need a system to manage the process strictly and guarantee the integrity by assigning clear authority for each role. And one of the reasons to use the system, especially server-based system, is that it’s a matter of collaboration and standard among participants. We don’t need the ‘standard’ concept for one person. Basically file-based software has been designed to increase the performance of personal user. Even though it provides a function for standard concept, it is difficult to control the process, role authority and latest version etc.
Anyway, if a company wants to establish EDM(Enterprise Data model Management) process, they have to define a dictionary type first for each industry, company or project according to their needs (User can define dictionary type and link with project in ‘Project Register UI’, I will explain detail in later posting). You can see the specific dictionary for software industry linked with the selected project(Trial Project) in the below picture.
When the trial project is selected, the 'Software Dictionary' linked with the project is shown.
When DB modeler needs a word to create entity or attribute, he has to look up the word in the dictionary first. User can search the word conveniently by using search function regardless of data type and status. If user input ‘CODE’ as a search condition, BluePrint shows all standard meta data which is related with ‘CODE’. If user can not find suitable word for modeling, he need to apply new word to DA(Data Architect, a person who is in charge of EDM in a company) to get the approval. The below picture shows request form for new standard word. Requester needs to input suitable abbreviation of the word which will be translated into a physical name automatically, select dictionary type and input the description to submit the word.
DA can search the submitted request and review the request whether it is suitable for the EDM policy or not. Once the request is approved, the word is registered as a standard word and everybody in the company can share the standard word and its abbreviation.
As I mentioned, this kind of process can be regarded as additional job and wasting of time. But once this process is settled down, I can guarantee that the readability of table and column will be increased remarkably and it will help better understanding and communication between designers and developers, and eventually increase productivity and quality of the project.
The other meta data types have similar process for applying and approval. I will explain more details about each data types in the next postings.