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Friday, 16 May 2008

Databases and Software Development

Database is a form of software development and yet all too often the database is thought of as a secondary entity when development teams discuss architecture and test plans—many developers do not seem to believe, understand or leave alone feel the need to understand that standard software development best practices apply to database development. Virtually every application imaginable requires some form of data store. And many in the development community go beyond simply persisting data, creating applications that are data driven. Given this dependency upon data and databases, Data is the central factor that dictates the value any application can bring to its users. Without the data, there is no need for the application.

The very reason we use the word legacy to refer to an application as old as 3 years is more often than not because of the database. As applications grow in size with new features , the amount of thought put into refactoring front end code or developing new code by developers is not put into the database development, ,so what happens essentially is a situation where your front end is two years ahead of the database , and as time progresses your applications capabilities and features get pulled back by the limitations of database quality and standard. We can all deny this but in reality it results either in a limitation or extra cost on creating work arounds.

The central argument on many a database forum is what to do with that ever-present required logic. Sadly, try as we might, developers have still not figured out how to develop an application without the need to implement business requirements. And so the debate rages on. Does “business logic” belong in the database? In the application tier? What about the user interface? And what impact do newer application architectures have on this age-old question?In recent times I have been able to have a look at technologies like Astoria, Linq and the Entity Model framework and Katmai. I was amazed at how little or no database code needs to be written by a developer who is doing UI or business layer development in a software. At the same time being a SQL Server fan myself.. I was worried that my database skills will slowly vaporise into thin air. Hmm that's not as bad as it sounds. All these new technologies such as Astoria, Linq or the Entity Framework are abstractions of the database and allow developing a logical data layer which maps to a physical database , so all developers who work primarily in the UI level or business layer level will slowly stop doing any SQL code at all, instead churning code that interests them against a logical data layer, but what contradicts this is the need to learn a new syntax in the form Linq, . On the other hand, database development will shift to being the specialist job...the design development and management activities of the database developer and Administrator will begin emerging as specialist skills as opposed to generalist skills in the near future. The future of the database specialist seems to be bright.. but what is to be seen is how organisations look at this shift in software development ideology.. To be fair this model of specialist and generalists is not new..


SharePoint Development - Softweb Solutions said...

Thanks for the nice information.

Best Regards
Arpit Kothari

Offshore Software Development

Solomon Morrow said...

As programs develop in size with new features , the amount of thought put into refactoring front side end rule or creating new rule by designers is not put into the data source growth.