Chapter 4. Designing the Database

Data. Databases. It just kind of makes sense. If you have data, you need to put it somewhere. And what better place to put it than in a “data” base?

Just to make sure I had all the “bases” covered, I did a quick search on the Internet for a useful definition. What a shock. According to virtually every web site I found, a database is “a collection of data organized for easy retrieval by a computer.” With a definition like that, pretty much everything I put on my system is stored in a database. All my disk files are organized for easy access. My saved emails can be sorted by subject or date received or sender, so they must be in a database, too. Even this document can be searched and sorted in any manner I wish. Is it a database?

Relational Databases

Perhaps that definition is too broad. These days, when we think of “database,” it’s generally a relational database system. Such databases are built on the “relational model” designed by Edgar Codd of IBM. In 1970, he issued “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks,” the seminal paper on relational modeling, and later expanded on the basic concepts with C. J. Date, another “real programmer.” Upon reading that 1970 paper—and if you have a free afternoon, you would really benefit from spending time with your family or friends rather than reading that paper—you will enter a world of n-tuples, domains, and expressible sets. Fortunately, you don’t need to know anything about these terms to use relational database systems.

The relational databases that most programmers use collect data in tables, each of which stores a specific set of unordered records. For convenience, tables are presented as a grid of data values, with each row representing a single record and each column representing a consistent field that appears in each record. Table 4-1 presents a table of orders, with a separate record for each line item of the order.

Table 4-1. Boy, a lot of people drink coffee and tea

Record ID

Order ID

Customer ID

Customer Name

Product ID

Product

Price

Quantity

92231

10001

AA1

Al Albertson

BEV01COF

Coffee

3.99

3

92232

10001

AA1

Al Albertson

BRD05RYE

Rye bread

2.68

1

92233

10002

BW3

Bill Williams

BEV01COF

Coffee

3.99

1

92234

10003

BW3

Will Williams

BEV01COF

Tea

3.99

2

92235

10004

CC1

Chuck Charles

CHP34PTO

Potato chips

0.99

7

Putting all of your information in a table is really convenient. The important data appears at a glance in a nice and orderly arrangement, and it’s easy to sort the results based on a particular column. Unfortunately, this table of orders has a lot of repetition. Customer names and product names repeat multiple times. Also, although the product ID “BEV01COF” indicates coffee, one of the lines lists it as “Tea.” A few other problems are inherent in data that’s placed in a single flat file database table.

Mr. Codd, the brilliant computer scientist that he was, saw these problems, too. But instead of just sitting around and complaining about them like I do, he came up with a solution: normalization. By breaking the data into separate tables with data subsets, assigning a unique identifier to each record/row in every table (a primary key), and making a few other adjustments, the data could be “normalized” for both processing efficiency and data integrity. For the sample orders in Table 4-1, the data could be normalized into three separate tables: one for order line items, one for customers, and one for products (see Table 4-2, Table 4-3, and Table 4-4, respectively). In each table, I’ve put an asterisk next to the column title that acts as the primary key column.

Table 4-2. The table of customers

Customer ID *

Customer Name

AA1

Al Albertson

BW3

Bill Williams

CC1

Chuck Charles

Table 4-3. The table of products

Product ID *

Product Name

Unit Price

BEV01COF

Coffee

3.99

BRD05RYE

Rye bread

2.68

BEV01COF

Coffee

3.99

CHP34PTO

Potato chips

0.99

Table 4-4. The table of order line items

Record ID *

Order ID

Customer ID

Product ID

Quantity

92231

10001

AA1

BEV01COF

3

92232

10001

AA1

BRD05RYE

1

92233

10002

BW3

BEV01COF

1

92234

10003

BW3

BEV01COF

2

92235

10004

CC1

CHP34PTO

7

To get combined results from multiple tables at once, join (or link) their matching fields. For instance, you can link the Customer ID field in the table of line items with the matching Customer ID primary key field in the table of customers. Once joined, the details for a single combined line item record can be presented with the matching full customer name. It’s the same for direct joins with any two tables that have linkable fields. Figure 4-1 shows the relationships between the customer, product, and order line tables.

Three tables, and yet they work as one

Figure 4-1. Three tables, and yet they work as one

To join tables together, relational databases implement query languages that allow you to manipulate the data using relational algebra (from which the term relational database derives). The most popular of these languages, SQL, uses simple English-like sentences to join, order, summarize, and retrieve just the data values you need. The primary statement, SELECT, provides basic data selection and retrieval features. Three other common statements, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE, let you manipulate the records stored in each table. Together, these four statements make up the primary data manipulation language (DML) commands of SQL. SQL also includes data definition language (DDL) statements that let you design the tables used to hold the data, as well as other database features. I’ll show examples of various SQL statements later in this chapter.

Vendor-specific systems such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle’s Oracle, Microsoft’s Access, and IBM’s DB2 extend these core DDL and DML features through additional data analysis and management tools. They also battle one another over important features such as data replication, crash-proof data integrity, the speed at which complex queries return the requested results, and who has the biggest private jet.

SQL Server 2005

Microsoft’s primary business-level database tool is SQL Server. Although it began its life as a derivative of Sybase (another relational database), it has been given the Microsoft touch. Unlike Access (Microsoft’s other relational database product), SQL Server includes advanced data management and analysis features, and a nifty price tag to go along with those features. Although Microsoft was somewhat late in joining the relational database game, it has done a pretty good job at playing catch-up. Oracle still gets high marks for at least its perception of being the most robust, the most stable, and the most platform-independent of the various players. But SQL Server scores big as well, especially with its somewhat lower costs and its more intuitive visual tools.

Originally, Microsoft touted SQL Server as a business-minded tool for business-minded people with their business-minded agendas and their business-minded three-piece poly-knit double-breasted suits, and it is still viewed in this way. But Microsoft is increasingly identifying the database as a development tool, especially with the 2005 release. It was no coincidence that Microsoft chose to debut that version of SQL Server November 7, 2005, the same day as the release of Visual Studio 2005. All flavors of Visual Studio now include some version of SQL Server—even the low-end Visual Studio Express Edition products have access to a SQL Server Express Edition complement. (As of this writing, it was available at no cost from Microsoft’s web site.) And it’s a two-way relationship between the products: you could always use SQL Server data in your .NET applications, but SQL Server 2005 now allows you to craft embedded stored procedures using .NET code, along with the native and more traditional T-SQL scripting language.

Tip

Microsoft announced the release of SQL Server 2008, the latest version of its star database product, in tandem with Visual Studio 2008. However, although the two products share a common launch date, the actual availability dates of the two products are months apart, with SQL Server 2008 coming out after Visual Studio. Since I cannot be sure that you, as a reader, already have access to SQL Server 2008, I have opted to use SQL Server 2005 as this book’s core database. Almost everything you read about SQL Server 2005 in this book will work identically in SQL Server 2008. If you choose to use the 2008 version of the product, you should have no difficulties in following the discussion in this book.

SQL Server, as the name implies, is a “server” product. It runs in the background on a system and communicates with you, the user, by having you first establish a standard network connection with the server engine. This is true even if the SQL Server engine runs on your own workstation. Watching a server product is about as exciting as reading some of those other Visual Basic 2008 tutorial books that you wisely avoided, so Microsoft provides various client tools that let you manage databases, tables, and other relational database properties. SQL Server Management Studio is the standard enterprise-level client tool for managing SQL Server databases. For SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, Microsoft supplies a reduced yet friendlier tool, SQL Server Management Studio Express (see Figure 4-2). This tool lets you manage databases and process DDL and DML statements. Management Studio Express is not included in SQL Server 2005 Express Edition; you must download or obtain it separately from Microsoft. As of this writing, it is available at no cost from Microsoft’s web site.

SQL Server Management Studio Express

Figure 4-2. SQL Server Management Studio Express

Tip

Because some readers of Programming Visual Basic 2008 may only have access to SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (and the related SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express tool), all examples in this book are designed for use with that edition of the database engine. This only impacts the few times when I refer specifically to the client tools. All SQL statements (both DDL and DML) presented in this book and in the Library Project’s source code will work with any edition of SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008.

Although Microsoft continues to update and sell Microsoft Access, it is recommending more and more that professional developers use and distribute databases in SQL Server format. Microsoft will even permit you to redistribute SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with your application. To do this, you must first obtain a “SQL Server 2005 Express Edition redistribution license” from Microsoft. Fortunately, it’s free and can be had for the asking from the SQL Server 2005 Express Edition web site, http://www.microsoft.com/sql/express.

SQL

Conducting business in Japan is pretty easy—once you know the language. The same is true of SQL Server: it’s pretty easy to manipulate and access data, once you know the language. In this case, the language is SQL, or Structured Query Language. Originally developed by IBM, SQL has since become a standard across the database industry. Well, kind of. As with America and England, Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle’s Oracle are two relational databases that are divided by a common language. The core parts of the SQL language are pretty consistent between vendors, but each supplier adds a lot of extra features and syntax variations designed by Edgar Codd wannabes.

This section describes those DDL and DML statements that will be most useful in our development of the Library program. You’ll be glad to know that SQL isn’t too picky about the formatting of the various statements. Upper- and lowercase distinctions are ignored; SELECT is the same as select is the same as SeLeCt. (Traditional SQL code is mostly uppercase. I use uppercase for all keywords, and mixed case for tables, fields, and other custom items. Whatever you choose, consistency is important.) Also, employ whitespace as you see fit. You can put statements on one gigantic line, or put every word on a separate line. The only time whitespace and case matter is in the actual data text strings; whatever you type, that’s how it stays.

SQL statements normally end with a semicolon, but some tools do not require you to include the semicolon, and other tools require that you exclude it. When using the SQL Server visual client tools (Management Studio and Management Studio Express), semicolons are optional, but it’s a good idea to include them when you are using multiple statements together, one after another. SQL statements used in Visual Basic code never include semicolons.

Later, when you look at a SQL script I wrote, you will see the word GO from time to time. In SQL Server, this command says, “For all of the other statements that appeared so far, go ahead and process them now.”

DDL Statements

This may come as a shock to you, but before you can store any data in a table, you have to create that table. SQL has just the tool to do this: the CREATE TABLE statement. It’s one of the many DDL statements. The basic syntax is pretty straightforward:

CREATE TABLE tableName
(
   fieldName1    dataType    options,
   fieldName2    dataType    options,
   and so on...
)

Just fill in the parts and you’re ready to populate (data, that is). Table and field names are built from letters and digits; you can include spaces and some other special characters, but it makes for difficult coding later on. Each vendor has its own collection of data types; I’ll stick with the SQL Server versions here. The options let you specify things such as whether the field requires data, whether it represents the table’s primary key, and other similar constraints. Extensions to the syntax let you set up constraints that apply to the entire table, indexes (which let you sort or search a specific column more quickly), and data storage specifics.

Here’s a sample CREATE TABLE statement that could be used for the table of order line items (refer to Table 4-4):

CREATE TABLE LineItems
(
   RecordID     bigint        IDENTITY PRIMARY KEY,
   OrderID      bigint        NOT NULL,
   CustomerID   varchar(20)   NOT NULL
         REFERENCES Customers (CustomerID),
   ProductID    varchar(20)   NOT NULL,
   Quantity     smallint      NOT NULL
)

The IDENTITY keyword lets SQL Server take charge of filling the RecordID field with data; it will use a sequential counter to supply a unique RecordID value with each new record. The PRIMARY KEY clause identifies the RecordID field as the unique identifying value for each record in the table. The bigint and smallint data types indicate appropriately sized integer fields, and the varchar type provides space for text, up to the maximum length specified in the parentheses (20 characters). The REFERENCES option clause identifies a relationship between this LineItems table and another table named Customers; values in the LineItems.CustomerID field match the key values from the Customers.CustomerID field. (Note the “dot” syntax to separate table and field names. It shows up everywhere in SQL.) References between tables are also known as foreign references.

If you need to make structure or option changes to a table or its fields after it is created, SQL includes an ALTER TABLE statement that can change almost everything in the table. Additionally, there is a related DROP TABLE statement used to get rid of a table and all of its data. You might want to avoid this statement on live production data, as users tend to get a bit irritable when their data suddenly disappears off the surface of the earth.

Table 4-5 summarizes the available data types used in SQL Server.

Table 4-5. SQL Server data types

Data type

Description

bigint

An 8-byte (64-bit) integer field for values ranging from −9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807.

binary

Fixed-length binary data, up to 8,000 bytes in length. You specify the length through a parameter, as in binary(100).

bit

Supports three possible values: 1, 0, or NULL. Generally used for Boolean values. Internally, SQL Server stores multiple bit fields from a single record in a merged integer field.

char, nchar

Fixed-length standard (char) or Unicode (nchar) strings, up to 8,000 characters in length. You specify the length through a parameter, as in char(100).

cursor

This data type is used within stored procedures, and cannot be used to create a column.

datetime

A general date and time field for dates ranging from January 1, 1753 AD to December 31, 9999 AD. Time accuracy for any given value is within 3.33 milliseconds. SQL Server 2008 adds several new date-related data types: date (dates without times), time (times without dates), datetime2 (same as datetime, but with a larger range and accurate to 100 nanoseconds), and datetimeoffset (date and time ranges).

decimal, numeric

A fixed-precision and scale decimal field. You specify the maximum number of digits to appear on both sides of the decimal point (the precision) and the maximum number of those digits that can appear on the right side of the decimal point (the scale). For instance, a setting of decimal(10,4) creates a field with up to 10 total digits, four of which may appear after the decimal point. The maximum precision value is 38. numeric is a synonym for decimal, as is dec.

float

A floating-point decimal field with variable storage. You can specify the number of bits used to store the value, up to 53. By default, all 53 bits are used, so a setting of float is equivalent to float(53). The pseudodata type real is equivalent to float(24). The values stored are on the order of ±1.0 × 10 ±38; the exact range and precision vary by the bits used for storage. This data type is susceptible to minor calculation errors.

hierarchyid

This data type, new with SQL Server 2008, supports querying of hierarchical and tree-shaped data. It is not available in SQL Server 2005.

image, text, ntext

Don’t use these data types, as they will eventually be removed from SQL Server.

int

A 4-byte (32-bit) integer field for values ranging from −2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647.

money

An 8-byte (64-bit) high-accuracy field for storing currency values, with up to four digits after the decimal point. Stored data values range from −922,337,203,685,477.5808 to 922,337,203,685,477.5807.

rowversion, timestamp

This data type is used to record modification events on records. There are restrictions on its use, and it is not guaranteed to be unique within a table. timestamp is a deprecated synonym for rowversion; use rowversion instead.

smalldatetime

A general date and time field for dates ranging from January 1, 1900 AD to June 6, 2079 AD. Time accuracy for any given value is within one minute.

smallint

A 2-byte (16-bit) integer field for values ranging from −32,768 to 32,767.

smallmoney

A 4-byte (32-bit) high-accuracy field for storing currency values, with up to four digits after the decimal point. Stored data values range from −214,748.3648 to 214,748.3647.

sql_variant

A generic type that stores values from many other type-specific fields.

table

A special field that temporarily stores the results of a query in a compacted table format. Defining a table field is somewhat complex, and its use naturally carries with it certain restrictions.

tinyint

A 1-byte (8-bit) unsigned integer field for values ranging from 0 to 255.

uniqueidentifier

A 16-byte globally unique identifier (GUID). The related NEWID function generates values for this field.

varbinary

Variable-length binary data, up to 8,000 bytes in length. You specify the length through a parameter, as in varbinary(100). The field only consumes space for the actual content currently stored in the field. A special setting of varbinary(max) allows entry of up to about 2 billion bytes.

varchar, nvarchar

Variable-length standard (varchar) or Unicode (nvarchar) strings, up to 8,000 characters in length. You specify the length through a parameter, as in varchar(100). The field only consumes space for the actual content currently stored in the field. A special setting of varchar(max) allows entry of up to about 2 billion characters.

xml

Provides storage for typed and untyped XML data documents, up to 2 GB.

DML Statements

Although DDL statements are powerful, they aren’t used that much. Once you create your database objects, there’s not much call for tinkering. The DML statements are more useful for everyday data surfing.

The INSERT statement adds data records to a table. Data is added to a table one record at a time. (A variation of INSERT lets you insert multiple records, but those records must come from another existing table source.) To use the INSERT statement, specify the destination table and fields, and then the individual values to put into each field. One data value corresponds to each specified data column name.

INSERT INTO LineItems
  (OrderID, CustomerID, ProductID, Quantity)
  VALUES (10002, 'BW3', 'BEV01COF', 1)

Assuming this statement goes with the CREATE TABLE statement written earlier, this insert action will add a new record to the LineItems table with five new fields—four specified fields, plus the primary key automatically added to the RecordID field (since it was marked as IDENTITY). SQL Server also does a variety of data integrity checks on your behalf. Each data field you add must be of the right data type, but you already expected that. Since we designed the CustomerID field to be a reference to the Customer table, the insert will fail if customer BW3 does not already exist in the Customer table.

Numeric literals can be included in your SQL statements as needed without any additional qualification. String literals are always surrounded by single quotes, as is done for the customer and product IDs in this INSERT statement. If you need to include single quotes in the literal, enter them twice:

'John O''Sullivan'

Surround literal date and time values with single quotes:

'7-Nov-2005'

Such date and time values accept any recognized format, although you should use a format that is not easy for SQL Server to misinterpret.

Many field types support an “unassigned” value, a value that indicates that the field contains no data at all. Such a value is known as the “null” value, and is specified in SQL Server using the NULL keyword. You cannot assign NULL to primary key fields, or to any field marked with the NOT NULL option.

To remove a previously added record, use the DELETE statement:

DELETE FROM LineItems WHERE RecordID = 92231

The DELETE statement includes a WHERE clause (the WHERE RecordID = 92231 part). WHERE clauses let you indicate one or more records in a table by making comparisons with data fields. Your WHERE clauses can include AND and OR keywords to join multiple conditions, and parentheses for grouping.

DELETE FROM LineItems WHERE OrderID = 10001
   AND ProductID = 'BRD05RYE'

Such a DELETE statement may delete zero, one, or 1,000 records, so precision in the WHERE clause is important. To delete all records in the table, exclude the WHERE clause altogether.

DELETE FROM LineItems

The UPDATE statement also uses a WHERE clause to modify values in existing table records.

UPDATE LineItems SET Quantity = 4
   WHERE RecordID = 92231

Assignments are made to fields with the SET clause; put the field name (Quantity) on the left side of the equals sign, and the new value on the right (4). To assign multiple values at once, separate each assignment with a comma. You can also include formulas and calculations.

UPDATE LineItems SET Quantity = Quantity + 1,
   ProductID = 'BEV02POP'
   WHERE RecordID = 92231

As with the DELETE statement, the UPDATE statement may update zero, one, or many records based on which records match the WHERE clause.

The final DML statement, and the one most often used, is SELECT.

SELECT ProductID, Quantity FROM LineItems
   WHERE RecordID = 92231

SELECT scans a table (LineItems), looking for all records matching a given criterion (RecordID = 92231), and returns a smaller table that contains just the indicated fields (ProductID and Quantity) for the matching records. The most basic query returns all rows and columns.

SELECT * FROM LineItems

This query returns all records from the table in no particular order. The asterisk (*) means “include all fields.”

The optional ORDER BY clause returns the results in a specific order.

SELECT * FROM LineItems
   WHERE Quantity > 5
   ORDER BY ProductID, Quantity DESC

This query returns all records that have a Quantity field value of more than five, and sorts the results first by the ProductID column (in ascending order) and then by the numeric quantity (in descending order, specified with DESC).

Aggregate functions and grouping features let you summarize results from the larger set of data. The following query documents the total ordered quantity for each product in the table:

SELECT ProductID, SUM(Quantity) FROM LineItems
   GROUP BY ProductID

You can use joins to link together the data from two or more distinct tables. The following query joins the LineItems and Customer tables on their matching CustomerID columns. This SELECT statement also demonstrates the use of table abbreviations (the “LI” and “CU” prefixes) added through the AS clauses; they aren’t usually necessary, but they can help make a complex query more readable.

SELECT LI.OrderID, CU.CustomerName, LI.ProductID
   FROM LineItems AS LI INNER JOIN Customer AS CU
   ON LI.CustomerID = CU.CustomerID
   ORDER BY LI.OrderID, CU.CustomerName

This table uses an “inner join,” one of the five main types of joins, each of which returns different sets of records based on the relationship between the first (left) and second (right) tables in the join:

Inner join

Returns only those records where there is a match in the linked fields. This type of join uses the INNER JOIN keywords.

Left outer join

Returns every record from the left table and only those records from the right table where there is a match in the linked fields. If a left table record doesn’t have a match, it acts as though all the fields in the right table for that record contain NULL values. This type of join uses the LEFT JOIN keywords. One use might be to join the Product and LineItems tables. You could return a list of the full product name for all available products, plus the total quantity ordered for each one. By putting the Product table on the left of a left outer join, the query would return all product names, even if that product had never been ordered (and didn’t appear in the LineItems table).

Right outer join

This works just like a left outer join, but all records from the right table are returned, and just the left table records that have a match. This type of join uses the RIGHT JOIN keywords.

Full outer join

Returns all records from the left and right tables, whether they have matches or not. When there is a match, it is reflected in the results. This type of join uses the FULL JOIN keywords.

Cross join

Also called a Cartesian join. Returns every possible combination of left and right records. This type of join uses the CROSS JOIN keywords.

Joining focuses on the relationship that two tables have. (This use of “relationship,” by the way, is not the basis for the term relational database.) Some tables exist in a “parent-child” relationship; one “parent” record has one or more dependent “child” records in another table. This is often true of orders; a single “order header” has multiple “line items.” This type of relationship is known as one-to-many, since one record is tied to many records in the other table. And the relationship is unidirectional; a given child record does not tie to multiple parent records.

A one-to-one relationship ties a single record in one table to a single record in another table. It’s pretty straightforward, and is often used to enhance the values found in the original record through a supplementary record in a second table.

In a many-to-many relationship, a single record in one table is associated with multiple records in a second table, and a single record in that second table is also associated with multiple records in the first table. A real-world example would be the relationship between teachers and students in a college setting. One teacher has multiple students in the classroom, but each student also has multiple teachers each semester. Practical implementations of many-to-many relationships actually require three tables: the two related tables, and a “go-between” table that links them together. I will show you a sample of such a table in the upcoming "Project" section of this chapter.

Beyond Basic SQL

The sample statements I listed here only scratch the surface of the data manipulation possibilities available through SQL. But by now you should have noticed that SQL is remarkably English-like in syntax, much more than even Visual Basic. In fact, the original name for the language—SEQUEL—was an acronym for “Structured English Query Language.” As the SQL statements get more complex, they will look less and less like an eighth-grade essay and more like random collections of English words.

The goal here is to introduce you to the basic structure of SQL statements. Most of the statements we will encounter in the Library Project will be no more complex than the samples included here. If you’re hungry for more, the “Books Online” component installed with SQL Server (a separate download for the Express Edition) has some pretty good usage documentation. Several good books on the ins and outs of SQL, including vendor-specific dialects, are also available.

Using Databases in Visual Basic

Visual Basic can interact with data stored in a database in a few different ways:

  • Use ADO.NET, the primary data access technology included in the .NET Framework, to interact with database-stored content. This is the method used throughout the Library program to interact with its database. ADO.NET is discussed in Chapter 10, with examples of its use. I will also introduce ADO.NET-specific code into the Library Project in that chapter.

  • Use the “data binding” features available in Visual Basic and Visual Studio. Binding establishes a connection between an on-screen data control or similar data-enabled object and content from a database. Code written for you by Microsoft takes care of all the communication work; you can even drag and drop these types of interactions. Although I will discuss data binding in Chapter 10 (since binding is based on ADO.NET), I tend to avoid it since it reduces the amount of control the programmer can exert on user data management. Data binding will not be used in the Library program.

  • Extract the data from the database into a standard file, and use file manipulation features in Visual Basic to process the data. Hmm, that doesn’t seem very useful, but I have actually had to do it, especially in the old days when some proprietary databases could not interact easily with Visual Basic code.

  • Each time you need some of the data, tell the user that somehow the data has been lost, and that it must be reentered immediately. If you have ever been curious to know what the inside of an unemployment office looks like, this could be your chance.

If you are a former Visual Basic 6.0 (or earlier) programmer, you may think that your knowledge of ADO will translate directly into ADO.NET development. Ha! You couldn’t be more wrong. Although the two data technologies share a partial name, the code written to use each method varies considerably. I will not discuss the older ADO technology at all in this book.

Documenting the Database

Technical content that describes the tables and fields in your application’s database represents the most important piece of documentation generated during your application’s lifetime. In fact, the need for good documentation is the basis for one of my core programming beliefs: project documentation is as important, and sometimes more important, than source code.

You may think I’m joking about this. Although you will (hopefully) find a lot of humor in the pages of this book, this is something I don’t joke about. If you are developing an application that centers on database-stored user content, complete and accurate documentation of every table and field used in the database is a must. Any lack in this area will—not might, not perhaps, but will—lead to data integrity issues and a longer-than-necessary development timeline. Figure 4-3 puts it another way.

Any questions?

Figure 4-3. Any questions?

Why do I think that database documentation is even more important than user documentation or functional specifications? It’s because of the impact the document will have on the user’s data. If you have a documented database, you can make guesses about the functional specification, and probably come pretty close. If you lack user documentation, you can always write it when the program is done (as though there was any other way?). But if you lack database documentation, you are in for a world of hurt.

If you haven’t worked on large database projects before, you might not believe me. But I have. I once inherited an existing enterprise-wide database system written in Visual Basic 3.0. The source code was bad enough, but the associated undocumented 100-table database was a mishmash of inconsistently stored data values. The confusing stored procedure code wasn’t much better. Since there wasn’t a clear set of documentation on each field, the six programmers who originally developed the system had each made their own decisions about what range of data would be allowed in each field, or about which fields were required or not.

Tracing back through the uncommented 100,000 lines of source code to determine what every field did was not fun, and it took a few months to complete it with accuracy. Since the customer had paid for and expected a stable and coherent system, most of the extra cost involved in replacing the documentation that should have been there in the first place was borne by my development group. Don’t let this happen to you!

Summary

Most Visual Basic applications target the business world and are designed to interact with some sort of database. Understanding the database system used with your application is important; even more important is documenting the specific database features you incorporate into your application.

Because of the influence of relational databases and the SQL language on the database industry, it won’t be hard to find a lot of resources to assist you in crafting SQL statements and complex data analysis queries. The Library Project in this book uses SQL Server 2005, but because of the generally consistent use of the core SQL language features, the application could just as easily have used Oracle, Microsoft Access, or any of a number of other relational databases.

Project

To assist in my development of Visual Basic database projects, I always write a “Technical Resource Kit” document before I begin the actual coding of the application. The bulk of this word processing document consists of the table- and field-level documentation for the application’s associated database. Also included are the formats for all configuration and custom datafiles, a map of the online help pages, and information about third-party products used in the application. Depending on the type of application, my expectations for the user, and the terms of any contract, I may supply none, some, or all of the Resource Kit’s content to the user community.

Let’s begin the Technical Resource Kit for the Library Project by designing and documenting the database tables to be used by the application. This Resource Kit appears in the book’s installation directory, in the Chapter 4 subdirectory, and contains the following three files:

ACME Library Resource Kit.doc

A Microsoft Word version of the technical documentation for the project

ACME Library Resource Kit.pdf

A second copy of the Technical Resource Kit, this time in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format

Database Creation Script.sql

A SQL Server database script used to build the actual tables and fields in the database

Technical Resource Kit Content

This section includes a listing of the tables included in the Library database. Each table includes a general description to assist you in your understanding of the database structure. You will encounter all of these tables in successive chapters, along with associated source code, so don’t freak out if some table or field seems unknowable right now.

Security-related tables

Although patrons do not need to log in to the application to look up items in the database, administrators must log in before they can access enhanced features of the program. The following four tables manage the security credentials of each administrator. The application uses SQL Server or Windows-based security credentials only to access the database initially, not to restrict features.

Activity

This table defines the features of the application that can be secured using group rights. These activities are linked with security groups (from the GroupName table) to establish the rights for a particular group.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key. This key is not auto-generated; the value supplied matches internal values used within the Library application. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Descriptive name of this activity. Required.

The following activities are defined at this time:

  • 1—Manage authors and names

  • 2—Manage author and name types

  • 3—Manage copy status codes

  • 4—Manage media types

  • 5—Manage series

  • 6—Manage security groups

  • 7—Manage library materials

  • 8—Manage patrons

  • 9—Manage publishers

  • 10—Manage system values

  • 11—Manage administrative users

  • 12—Process and accept fees

  • 13—Manage locations

  • 14—Check out library items

  • 15—Check in library items

  • 16—Access administrative features

  • 17—Perform daily processing

  • 18—Run system reports

  • 19—Access patrons without patron password

  • 20—Manage bar codes

  • 21—Manage holidays

  • 22—Manage patron groups

  • 23—View administrative patron messages

GroupName

Each record in this table defines a single security group. Librarians and other administrators each belong to a single security group.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this group. Required.

GroupActivity

This table connects records in the Activity table to records in the GroupName table (a many-to-many relationship) to establish the activities a security group can perform.

Field

Type

Description

GroupID

bigint

Primary key. The associated security group. Foreign reference to GroupName.ID. Required.

ActivityID

bigint

Primary key. The activity that members of the associated security group can perform. Foreign reference to Activity.ID. Required.

UserName

This table contains the actual records for each librarian or administrator. Each record includes the user’s password and security group setting.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this user, administrator, or librarian. Required.

LoginID

varchar(20)

User ID that gives this user access to the system. It is entered into the Library program’s “login” form, along with the password, to gain access to enhanced features. Required.

Password

varchar(20)

The password for this user, in an encrypted format. Optional.

Active

bit

Is this user allowed to access the system? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

GroupID

bigint

To which security group does this user belong? Foreign reference to GroupName.ID. Required.

Support code tables

Several tables exist simply to provide a list of values to other tables. In an application, these list tables often appear as the choices in a drop-down (“combo box”) control.

CodeAuthorType

In the Library program, the word author is a generic term used for authors, illustrators, editors, and any other similar contributor to an item in the library’s inventory. This table lets you define those roles.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this type of author or contributor. Required.

CodeCopyStatus

Copy status codes include things like “circulating,” “being repaired,” and any other primary status the library wishes to set. The checked-in or checked-out status is handled through other features, as is the flag that indicates whether an item is a reference item.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this status entry. Required.

CodeLocation

Physical locations where library items are stored. This could be separate sites, or rooms or areas within a common location.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this location. Required.

LastProcessing

datetime

The date when daily processing was last done for this location. If NULL, processing has not yet been done. Optional.

CodeMediaType

Types of media, such as books, magazines, videos, CDs, etc.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this media type. Required.

CheckoutDays

smallint

Number of days for which items in this type can be checked out, before renewal. Required.

RenewDays

smallint

Number of days to add to the original checkout period for a renewal of items within this type. Required.

RenewTimes

smallint

Maximum number of times the item can be renewed by a patron before it must be returned. Required.

DailyFine

money

Amount charged per day for an overdue item of this type. Required.

CodePatronGroup

Categories of groups into which patrons are placed. These are not security groups, but general groups for reporting purposes. This was added to support grouping of patrons by units within a company, or by class/grade within a school library setting.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this patron group. Required.

CodeSeries

Some items appear as part of a larger series or collection. This table defines the collection and series names.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this series or collection. Required.

Library items

The tables in this section manage the actual inventory of items. Since a library may own more than one copy of a single item, these tables manage the “named item” and its individual “copies” separately.

NamedItem

A library item, such as a book, CD, or magazine. This table represents a general item, and not the actual copy of the item.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

Title

varchar(150)

Title of this item. Required.

Subtitle

varchar(150)

Subtitle of this item. Optional.

Description

varchar(max)

Full description of this item. Optional.

Edition

varchar(10)

Edition number for this item. Optional.

Publisher

bigint

This item’s publisher. Foreign reference to Publisher.ID. Optional.

Dewey

varchar(20)

Dewey decimal number. Use / for line breaks. Optional.

LC

varchar(25)

Library of Congress number. Use / for line breaks. Optional.

ISxN

varchar(20)

ISBN, ISSN, or other standardized number of this item. Optional.

LCCN

varchar(12)

Library of Congress control number. Optional.

Copyright

smallint

Year of original copyright, or of believed original copyright. Optional.

Series

bigint

The series or collection in which this item appears. Foreign reference to CodeSeries.ID. Optional.

MediaType

bigint

The media classification of this item. Foreign reference to CodeMediaType.ID. Required.

OutOfPrint

bit

Is this title out of print? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

ItemCopy

A single copy of a named item. Separate copies of the same item will appear as separate records in this table.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

ItemID

bigint

The related named item record. Foreign reference to NamedItem.ID. Required.

CopyNumber

smallint

Numbered position of this item within the set of copies for a named item. Required, and unique among items with the same ItemID field value.

Description

varchar(max)

Comments specific to this copy of the item. Optional.

Available

bit

Is this copy available for checkout or circulation? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Missing

bit

Has this copy been reported missing? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Reference

bit

Is this a reference copy? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Condition

varchar(30)

Any comments relevant to the condition of this copy. Optional.

Acquired

datetime

Date this copy was acquired by the library. Optional.

Cost

money

Value of this item, either original or replacement value. Optional.

Status

bigint

The general status of this copy. Foreign reference to CodeCopyStatus.ID. Required.

Barcode

varchar(20)

Bar code found on the copy. At this time, only numeric bar codes are supported. Optional.

Location

bigint

The site or room location of this item. Foreign reference to CodeLocation.ID. Optional.

Publisher

An organization that publishes books or some other type of media.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(100)

Name of the publisher. Required.

WebSite

varchar(255)

URL for this publisher’s web site. Optional.

Author

Someone who writes, edits, illustrates, or in some other way contributes to a book or media item. In all cases, when the term author appears in this table, it refers to anyone who contributes to the item.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

LastName

varchar(50)

Last name of this author. Required.

FirstName

varchar(30)

First name of this author. Optional.

MiddleName

varchar(30)

Middle name or initial of this author. Optional.

Suffix

varchar(10)

Name suffix, such as “Jr.” Optional.

BirthYear

smallint

Year of birth. Use negative numbers for BC. Optional.

DeathYear

smallint

Year of death. Use negative numbers for BC. Optional.

Comments

varchar(250)

Miscellaneous comments about this author. Optional.

ItemAuthor

An author, editor, and so on, for a specific named item. This table establishes a many-to-many relationship between the NamedItem and Author tables.

Field

Type

Description

ItemID

bigint

Primary key. The associated named item. Foreign reference to NamedItem.ID. Required.

AuthorID

bigint

Primary key. The author associated with the named item. Foreign reference to Author.ID. Required.

Sequence

smallint

Relative order of this author among the authors for this named item. Authors with smaller numbers appear first. Required.

AuthorType

bigint

The specific type of contribution given by this author for this named item. Foreign reference to CodeAuthorType.ID. Required.

Keyword

Custom words that can be applied to named items to make searching easier.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this keyword. Required.

ItemKeyword

Connects a keyword with a named item through a many-to-many relationship between the NamedItem and Keyword tables.

Field

Type

Description

ItemID

bigint

Primary key. The associated named item. Foreign reference to NamedItem.ID. Required.

KeywordID

bigint

Primary key. The keyword to associate with the named item. Foreign reference to Keyword.ID. Required.

Subject

Subject headings used to classify named items.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(150)

Name of this subject. Required.

ItemSubject

Connects a subject with a named item through a many-to-many relationship between the NamedItem and Subject tables.

Field

Type

Description

ItemID

bigint

Primary key. The associated named item. Foreign reference to NamedItem.ID. Required.

SubjectID

bigint

Primary key. The subject to associate with the named item. Foreign reference to Subject.ID. Required.

Patron-related tables

The tables in this section define the actual patron records and their relationship to item copies (when such copies are checked out by the patron).

Patron

An identified library user. Patrons usually have checkout privileges.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

LastName

varchar(30)

Last name of this patron. Required.

FirstName

varchar(30)

First name of this patron. Required.

LastActivity

datetime

Date of last checkout, renewal, or return. Optional.

Active

bit

Is this an active patron? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Comments

varchar(max)

Any comments associated with this patron. Optional.

AdminMessage

varchar(500)

Comments that are displayed to administrative users when the patron’s record is accessed. Optional.

Barcode

varchar(20)

Bar code found on this patron’s library card. At this time, only numeric bar codes are supported. Optional.

Password

varchar(20)

Patron’s password, in an encrypted format. Required.

Email

varchar(100)

Patron’s email address. Optional.

Phone

varchar(20)

Patron’s phone number. Optional.

Address

varchar(50)

Patron’s street address. Optional.

City

varchar(20)

Patron’s city. Optional.

State

varchar(2)

Patron’s state abbreviation. Optional.

Postal

varchar(10)

Patron’s postal code. Optional.

PatronGroup

bigint

The group in which this patron appears. Foreign reference to CodePatronGroup.ID. Optional.

PatronCopy

This table manages item copies currently checked out by a patron, or item copies that were previously checked out and have since been returned.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

Patron

bigint

The associated patron. Foreign reference to Patron.ID. Required.

ItemCopy

bigint

The item copy currently or previously checked out by the patron. Foreign reference to ItemCopy.ID. Required.

CheckOut

datetime

The date when this item copy was initially checked out. Required.

Renewal

smallint

The number of times this item copy has been renewed. Set to 0 when the item copy is first checked out. Required.

DueDate

datetime

Current due date for this item copy. Required.

CheckIn

datetime

The date when this item copy was returned. Optional.

Returned

bit

Has the item copy been returned? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Missing

bit

Is the item copy missing and considered lost? 0 for False, 1 for True. Required.

Fine

money

Total fine accumulated for this item copy. Defaults to 0.00. An administrator may reduce an accumulated fine. Required.

Paid

money

Total amount paid (in fees) for this item copy. Required.

ProcessDate

datetime

When an item copy is processed for overdue fines, this field contains the last date for which processing was done. Optional.

PatronPayment

Fines, payments, and dismissals on a patron copy record. Overdue fines are not recorded in this table, but administrator-initiated fines due to charges for missing items are recorded here.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

PatronCopy

bigint

The associated item checked out by the patron. Foreign reference to PatronCopy.ID. Required.

EntryDate

datetime

Date and time when this entry was recorded. Required.

EntryType

varchar(1)

The type of payment entry. Required. The possible values are:

  • P = The patron made a payment.

  • F = A fine (other than a standard overdue fine) was imposed by an administrator.

  • D = A portion (or all) of the fine was dismissed.

  • R = A refund was given to the patron due to overpayment.

Amount

money

The amount associated with this entry. The value is always positive. Required.

Comment

varchar(50)

A short comment about this entry. Optional.

UserID

bigint

The user who added this payment event. Foreign reference to UserName.ID. Optional.

Bar code-related tables

There are three levels of definition to create a bar code: (1) the sheet on which a grid of labels prints; (2) a single label on the sheet; and (3) the individual items that appear on each label. The three tables in this section define those three levels.

BarcodeSheet

Describes the template for a single page of bar code labels.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this sheet template. Required.

UnitType

varchar(1)

Units used in the various measurements found in most fields in this record. Required.

  • I = Inches

  • C = Centimeters

  • P = Points

  • T = Twips

PageWidth

decimal(10,4)

Width of the entire page. Required.

PageHeight

decimal(10,4)

Height of the entire page. Required.

MarginLeft

decimal(10,4)

Left border, up to the edge of the printable label area. Required.

MarginRight

decimal(10,4)

Right border, up to the edge of the printable label area. Required.

MarginTop

decimal(10,4)

Top border, up to the edge of the printable label area. Required.

MarginBottom

decimal(10,4)

Bottom border, up to the edge of the printable label area. Required.

IntraColumn

decimal(10,4)

The width of the blank area between label columns. Required.

IntraRow

decimal(10,4)

The height of the blank area between label rows. Required.

ColumnsCount

smallint

The number of label columns on this template. Required.

RowsCount

smallint

The number of label rows on this template. Required.

BarcodeLabel

Describes the template for a single label on a bar code sheet. Any number of labels may be on a single sheet, but they all have the same shape and format.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this label template. Required.

BarcodeSheet

bigint

The sheet template on which this label template appears. Foreign reference to BarcodeSheet.ID. Required.

UnitType

varchar(1)

Units used in the various measurements found in most fields in this record. Required.

  • I = Inches

  • C = Centimeters

  • P = Points

  • T = Twips

BarcodeLabelItem

Describes a single item as found on a bar code label. Items include static and generated text, lines, rectangles, and generated bar codes.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

Priority

smallint

Identifies the order in which items on the label are printed. Lower numbers are printed first. Required.

BarcodeLabel

bigint

The label template on which this item appears. Foreign reference to BarcodeLabel.ID. Required.

ItemType

varchar(1)

What type of item does this record represent? Required.

  • T = Static text

  • B = Bar code

  • N = Bar code number

  • L = Line

  • R = Rectangle

PosLeft

decimal(10,4)

Left edge of the item relative to the left edge of the label. Measured according to the related BarcodeLabel.UnitType field. Required.

PosTop

decimal(10,4)

Top edge of the item relative to the top edge of the label. Measured according to the related BarcodeLabel.UnitType field. Required.

PosWidth

decimal(10,4)

Width of the item, or of the box in which the item is drawn. For lines, this is the x coordinate of the endpoint. Measured according to the related BarcodeLabel.UnitType field. Required.

PosHeight

decimal(10,4)

Height of the item, or of the box in which the item is drawn. For lines, this is the y coordinate of the endpoint. Measured according to the related BarcodeLabel.UnitType field. Required.

Rotation

smallint

Rotation angle, in degrees, of the box in which the item is drawn. Zero (0) equals no angle, and increasing angles proceed clockwise. Ranges from 0 to 359. Only used when ItemType is T, B, N, or R. Optional.

FontName

varchar(50)

The name of the font used to write the text. Valid only when ItemType is T or N. Optional.

FontSize

decimal(10,4)

The size of the font used to write the text. Valid only when ItemType is T, B, or N. Optional.

StaticText

varchar(100)

The static text to display on the label. Valid only when ItemType is T. Optional.

FontStyle

varchar(4)

The style of the font text. May be any combination of the following four codes:

  • B = Bold

  • I = Italic

  • U = Underline

  • K = Strikeout

Leave this field NULL to use the normal style. Valid only when ItemType is T or N. Optional.

Color1

bigint

The main color of the text, bar code, or line. When printing a rectangle, this is the border color. If NULL, black is used. A standard Windows 32-bit RGB color value. Optional.

Color2

bigint

The fill color when printing a rectangle. If NULL, white is used. A standard Windows 32-bit RGB color value. Optional.

Alignment

smallint

The alignment of the text within the bounding box. Valid only when ItemType is T, B, or N.

  • 1 = Align in top-left corner of box

  • 2 = Align in top-center area of box

  • 4 = Align in top-right corner of box

  • 16 = Align in middle-left area of box

  • 32 = Align in middle-center area of box

  • 64 = Align in middle-right area of box

  • 256 = Align in bottom-left corner of box

  • 512 = Align in bottom-center area of box

  • 1024 = Align in bottom-right corner of box

PadDigits

smallint

The number of digits in which to pad the bar code number. Set to zero (0) to ignore padding. Ranges from 0 to 20. If the bar code length is less than the specified number of digits, it is padded on the left with zeros. Applies only to ItemTypes of B and N.

Other miscellaneous tables

Two additional tables provide support for features not handled through other tables.

Holiday

When checking out an item to a patron, the return date should not fall on a holiday (or any day that the library is closed) since the patron might not have a way to return the book on the day it’s due. This table defines one-time and recurring holidays.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key, automatically assigned. Required.

FullName

varchar(50)

Name of this holiday. Not necessarily unique. Required.

EntryType

varchar(1)

The type of entry. Required. From the following list:

  • A = Annual (as in “every December 25”)

  • E = Weekly (as in “every Sunday”)

  • O = One-time (as in “2/16/2004 is President’s Day”)

EntryDetail

varchar(10)

Entry-type-specific detail. Required. Differs for each entry type.

Entry type Detail value

A Month and day in “mm/dd” format

E Single digit: 1 = Sunday through 7 = Saturday

O Date in “yyyy/mm/dd” format

SystemValue

This table stores miscellaneous enterprise-wide settings that apply to every workstation. Local workstation-specific settings are stored on each machine, not in the database.

Field

Type

Description

ID

bigint

Primary key; automatically assigned. Required.

ValueName

varchar(50)

Name of this value. Required.

ValueData

varchar(100)

Information associated with this entry. Optional.

The following system values are defined at this time. The name of the code appears in the ValueName field. The corresponding value appears in the ValueData field.

BarcodeCode39

Is the specified bar code in “code 39” or “code 3 of 9” format? If so, an asterisk will be placed before and after the bar code number before it is printed on a label. Use a value of 0 for False or any nonzero value for True (−1 is preferred). If missing or NULL, False is assumed.

BarcodeFont

The name of the font used to print bar codes. This font must be installed on any workstation that displays or prints bar codes. It is not needed to scan bar codes.

DatabaseVersion

Which structural version of the database is currently in use? Right now, it is set to “1,” and is reserved for future enhancement.

DefaultLocation

CodeLocation.ID value for the location that is set as the default.

FineGrace

Number of days that an item can be overdue without incurring a fine.

NextBarcodeItem

The next starting value to use when printing item bar codes.

NextBarcodeMisc

The next starting value to use when printing miscellaneous bar codes.

NextBarcodePatron

The next starting value to use when printing patron bar codes.

PatronCheckOut

Indicates whether patrons can check out items without being logged in as an administrative user. Use a value of 0 (zero) to indicate no checkout privileges, or any nonzero value to allow patron checkout (−1 is preferred). If this value is missing or empty, patrons will not be allowed to check out items without administrator assistance.

SearchLimit

Indicates the maximum number of results returned in any search or lookup. If this value is missing or invalid, a default of 250 is used. The allowed range is between 25 and 5,000, inclusive.

TicketHeading

Display text to be printed at the top of checkout tickets. All lines are centered on the ticket. Include the vertical bar character (|) to break the text into multiple lines.

TicketFooting

Display text to be printed at the bottom of checkout tickets. All lines are centered on the ticket. Include the vertical bar character (|) to break the text into multiple lines.

UseLC

Indicates whether books are categorized by Dewey or Library of Congress (LC) call numbers. Use a value of 0 (zero) to indicate Dewey, or any nonzero value for LC (−1 is preferred). If this value is missing or empty, Dewey is assumed.

Creating the Database

Adding the database to SQL Server is almost as easy as documenting it; in fact, it requires less typing. The CREATE TABLE statements are straightforward, and they all pretty much look the same. I’m going to show only a few of them here. The Database Creation Script.sql file in this book’s installation directory includes the full script content.

The instructions listed here are for SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express. You can perform all of these tasks using SQL Server 2005 Management Studio, or even the command-line tools supplied with SQL Server, but the details of each step will vary. The same CREATE TABLE statements work with whichever tool you choose.

If you haven’t done so already, install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (or whichever version of the database you will be using). SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express is a separate product from SQL Server itself, so you must install that as well.

Most of the tables in the Library Project are simple data tables with a single primary key. Their code is straightforward. The Author table is a good example.

CREATE TABLE Author
(
   ID           bigint         IDENTITY PRIMARY KEY,
   LastName     varchar(50)    NOT NULL,
   FirstName    varchar(30)    NULL,
   MiddleName   varchar(30)    NULL,
   Suffix       varchar(10)    NULL,
   BirthYear    smallint       NULL,
   DeathYear    smallint       NULL,
   Comments     varchar(250)   NULL
);

The fields included in each CREATE TABLE statement appear as a comma-delimited list, all enclosed in parentheses. Each field includes either a NULL or a NOT NULL option that indicates whether NULL values may be used in that field. The PRIMARY KEY option automatically specifies NOT NULL.

Some statements create tables that link two other tables in a many-to-many relationship. One example is the GroupActivity table, which connects the GroupName table with the Activity table.

CREATE TABLE GroupActivity
(
   GroupID      bigint   NOT NULL,
   ActivityID   bigint   NOT NULL,
   PRIMARY KEY (GroupID, ActivityID)
);

The Author table had a single primary key, so the PRIMARY KEY option could be attached directly to its ID field. Since the GroupActivity table has a two-field primary key (which is common in relational databases), the PRIMARY KEY option is specified as an entry all its own, with the key fields specified as a parentheses-enclosed comma-delimited list.

Earlier in this chapter, I showed how you could establish a reference to a field in another table by using the REFERENCES constraint as part of the CREATE TABLE statement. You can also establish them after the tables are already in place, as I do in the script. Here is the statement that establishes the link between the GroupActivity and GroupName tables:

ALTER TABLE GroupActivity
   ADD FOREIGN KEY (GroupID)
   REFERENCES GroupName (ID);

Since I’ve already written the entire SQL script for you, I’ll just have you process it directly using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express. (If you will be using the full version of SQL Server or some other management tool, the provided script will still work, although the step-by-step instructions will differ.) Before adding the tables, we need to create a database specific to the Library Project. Start up Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express (see Figure 4-4).

SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express main form

Figure 4-4. SQL Server 2005 Management Studio Express main form

To add a new database for the Library Project, right-click on the Database folder in the Object Explorer, and select New Database from the shortcut menu. On the New Database form that appears, enter Library in the Database Name field, and then click OK.

The Library database is a shell of a database; it doesn’t contain any tables or data yet. Let’s use the Database Creation Script.sql file from the book’s installation directory to generate the tables and initial data. In Management Studio Express, select the File → Open → File menu command, and locate the Database Creation Script.sql file. (You may be prompted to log in to SQL Server again.) Opening this file places its content in a new panel within Management Studio Express.

All that’s left to do is to process the script. In the toolbar area, make sure that “Library” is the selected database (see Figure 4-5). Then click the Execute toolbar button, or press the F5 key. It’s a small script with not a lot going on (at least from SQL Server’s point of view), so it should finish in just a few seconds.

If you don’t select “Library,” your tables will go somewhere else

Figure 4-5. If you don’t select “Library,” your tables will go somewhere else

That’s it! Close the script panel. Then, back in the Object Explorer, right-click on the Library database folder and select Refresh from the menu. If you then expand the Library database branch and its Tables sub-branch, you will see all the tables created by the script (see Figure 4-6).

Partial list of database tables

Figure 4-6. Partial list of database tables

With the database done, it’s time to start programming.

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