Learning Data Modeling

Last week I wrote about database design tests in interviews. Many of you noted that you hadn’t been asked to perform any design in tests, and plenty of you noticed that ER diagrams are a rarity. Those experiences match mine and are a little disappointing for our industry. Even for software developers, many of whom don’t build databases, I’d expect that ER diagrams to be helpful and plentiful. Our clients are often developers and report writing businesspeople. Why don’t they demand better documentation?
If they were to ask for us to produce ER diagrams and documentation, I’d hope most of you could produce one, even using SSMS or some other tool. However, can you design the storage for your business requirements in a way that you would feel comfortable presenting to your peers? Do you think you can build a database that efficiently stores data, performs well, and is easy for application developers to work with? If so, I have a question.
What resources would you recommend for others to learn about data modeling?
We have a dearth of database design articles on SQLServerCentral, though we do have a Stairway Series on Database Design. I don’t know how easy it is for most developers, or even database architects, to read and understand. I realize that modeling and designing databases can be complex topics, and it does take some effort to learn to do it well, but I also believe that we need practical, easy to approach articles that lead people through the concepts.
I’d love to see more articles from real world people that discuss designing sections of databases. How do you handle scheduling systems? Inventory tracking? Customer details? If anyone wants to write articles that might lead a reader along (such as Paul White or Brandie Tarvin did), we’d love to have them submitted at SQLServerCentral.
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2 Responses to Learning Data Modeling

  1. pianorayk says:

    Personally, my tool of choice is Visio. The last time I designed a database (albeit, a small one), I used it to graphically design what I had in mind. It gave me a blueprint, of sorts, to do what I had to do. It made my work that much easier to do. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that not all employers allow their workers to install Visio, which I think is a shame.

  2. Kurt Zimmerman says:

    Presently I use Database Diagrams in SSMS. It is handy and I can get what I want from it. Because you can create multiple diagrams some of my larger designs I will create subject areas. I use to live in ERWin. Unfortunately when CA acquired it, it became affordable.
    For me, a visual representation of a database or warehouse is a big time saver.

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