Chapter 5. Translating User Needs into Data Models

Chapter 4 discussed ways you can work with customers to gain a full understanding of the problem at hand. The result should be a big pile of facts, goals, needs, and requirements that should be part of the new database and its surrounding ecosystem. You may already have made some connections among various parts of this information, but mostly it should be a big heap of requirements that doesn't say too much about the database's design and construction.

This kind of pile of information is sometimes called a contextual list. It's basically just a list of important stuff (although it may be fairly elaborate and include requirements documents, diagrams, charts, and all sorts of other supporting documentation).

The next step in turning the conceptual list into a database is converting it into a more formal model. You can compare the formal model to the contextual list and make sure that the model can handle all of your requirements.

You can also use the model to verify that you're on track. You can explain the model to the customers and see if they think it will handle all of their needs or if they forgot to mention something important while you were following the procedures described in Chapter 4.


Constantly verifying that you're on track is an important part of any project. It's much easier to hit a target if you're constantly checking the map and making any necessary adjustments. You wouldn't aim your car at a parking space, close ...

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