What On Earth Is Data Modeling?

Thanks for the prompt that produced this post must go to Grasping For Words, who wanted to know what “data modeling” is. I’ve only been doing it for 11 years, so I’m not sure I can answer fully, but I’ll give it a shot.

Let’s say you are a bookstore, and you want a database to keep track of inventory, sales, customers, orders, etc. everything about your business.

You’ll have information about all the books you sell in your store, and you might want to include information about their authors, too. But you wouldn’t want to repeat everything about an author for each of his books – space costs money, don’t waste it. So your data modeler is going to put your book-data in one place, and your author-data in another, and build a connection point so you can know THIS author wrote THESE books, and THIS book was written by THIS author.

Data modeling ( aka data architecture) is making the decisions about which data goes where, and how it should relate to all your other data. The key goals are to use your space most efficiently, and relate things properly so you can get to them and use them as quickly as possible.

That’s pretty simplistic, but basically that’s what it is. Of course, it’s very rare that you get to start from scratch like that and decide things yourself. Most of the time you’re making tweaks on something that was done badly, a long time ago. 🙂

And what I REALLY do all day is argue with the software developers who can’t or won’t see that MY WAY IS RIGHT AND THEIR WAY IS KLUDGY AND STUPID AND WRONG AND WILL LEAD TO REWORK FOR ALL OF US. Sigh.

I hope that answered your question, Melayne… and don’t let me scare you, I.T. is FUN!!!

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3 thoughts on “What On Earth Is Data Modeling?

  1. hirundine608

    About twenty years ago, as part of a Co-op board. We had to find a suitable computer POS model for the store. In the end we chose a UNIX based system. Which is still in use there today. Must have been a good choice?

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