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The One True Relational Database Model

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Aug. 12th, 2004 | 07:47 pm
mood: amusedamused
music: Tom "T-Bone" Stankus - Existential Blues

Microsoft has a relational database on the front burner for a future version of Windows. Personally, I think they're barking up the wrong tree. If they spent more time building websites they'd know that hierarchical models with very tight scripting connections offer more performance and a higher level application model. Relational databases are good for factories and stores. Object databases map the model of the Web. Just change the slashes to dots and off you go. - scripting.com

Heirarchical databases and Object databases are arguably subsets of Relational databases. If you think your programming effort needs a 'higher level application model', you should go ahead and use one -- built on top of a relational database. If you have some data that you need to manage professionally, you need the structure and reinforcement that only the relational model can provide. If that means you need to pay me to build you one, then so be it.

If there's a better model than the Relational one out there, I want it caught and shot now to hear about it. Maybe what I mean isn't better model, it's better formalism. Sure, use a flat text file to manage your data. That's better for some projects, some purposes. But it will catch up with you (or better yet, someone else) as the project ages. (For your own sake, recognize when that starts to happen, and re-engineer the project.)

If you go through the excercise of designing a relational database for your data, the nicest thing is, your data will stay that way! almost self-organizing, and it's easy to discover new uses (new ways to use your old data)!

Heirarchical databases collapse under their own inflexibility.

Object databases look pretty but tempt you into omitting some relations that you later have to back-fill using "business rules".

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Comments {26}


Re: the pure thingness of the things

from: troyworks
date: Aug. 13th, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)

Narrow by meaning relative to a database table: interfaces and defined methods controlling access to private data to prohibit corrupting it. Unlike an SQL statement which can do pretty much anything anyway it wants (good for your case trying to find patterns out of the noise).

The methods on a given object reflect the anticipated useage of it. E.g. a person.getDogName or person.getHairDressor isn't likely to be used on a sales site for books so it's not included in the model. person.getName() is any object who knows to call getName can.

Funny we truly are onthe opposite ends of the development spectrum. I build sites for people around use cases, e.g. an slide presentation and editing system for schools, pretty cut and dry use cases are "view slide" "editing slides". And the last year in a report generating tool for movie analysis (which does use a an RDBMS for the backend, which is mostly abstracted away from the presentation logic (e.g. helping users build valid questions (which get translated into SQL), and lots of nifty features to traverse the data in different ways.

However I have done data analysis of various network like things without a relational database, neural networks, search engine results, and livejournal social networks.


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