It has been estimated that more than 80 percent of all computer programming is database-related. This is certainly easy to believe. After all, a database can be a powerful tool for doing exactly what computer programs do best: store, manipulate, and display data.

Even many programs that seem at first glance to have little to do with traditional business-oriented data use databases to make processing easier. In fact, looking back on more than 20 years of software development experience, I'm hard pressed to think of a single non-trivial application that I've worked on that didn't use some kind of database.

Not only do databases play a role in many applications, but they also often play a critical role. If the data is not properly stored, it may become corrupted and the program will be unable to use it meaningfully. If the data is not properly organized, the program may be unable to find what it needs in a reasonable amount of time.

Unless the database stores its data safely and effectively, the application will be useless no matter how well-designed the rest of the system may be. The database is like the foundation of a building: without a strong foundation, even the best crafted building will fail, sometimes spectacularly (the Leaning Tower of Pisa notwithstanding).

With such a large majority of applications relying so heavily on databases, you would expect everyone involved with application development to have a solid, formal foundation in database design and construction. ...

Get Beginning Database Design Solutions now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.