Data Modeling Naming Standards with IBM InfoSphere Data Architect

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by Djoni Darmawikarta | December 2009 | Architecture & Analysis

 

Many data modelers recognize the advantages of standardizing the names of their modeling objects, particularly when they apply prime-class-modifier words pattern; but, they can’t afford its tedious manual execution.

InfoSphere Data Architect affords functions for building glossary of the standard pattern words that you can then employ while developing and maintaining your data models. This automation encourages the data modeler to apply naming standard to their modeling objects which in turn promotes consistency across their data models.

This article by Djoni Darmawikarta features the naming standard functionality in the glossary model of that IBM software.

The Prime-Class-Modifier Words Pattern

Prime words represent key business entities. In an insurance business, examples of prime word are policy and coverage.

A class word is a category that qualifies a prime word; for example, in policy code name, code is a class word.

policy code can further be qualified by a modifier word; for instance, previous policy code where previous is the modifier word.

You can define your own naming pattern different from the above modifier prime class pattern for a specific modeling object, including the separator between words and if modifier word or class word in the pattern is optional. You can have, for instance, modifier?_prime_modifer?_class_modifier? pattern for attribute naming in a logical data model. The ? characters indicate the words are optional and the separators are _. An example name with that pattern is permanent employee last name, assuming we have defined in our standard that permanent as a modifier word, employee as a prime word, last a modifier word, and name as a class word. Note that we don’t have the last optional modifier word in this example.

In a different business (not insurance), code might well be a prime word and policy might not be a prime word; hence the need to define your own specific list of prime, class and modifier words and naming patterns for their application, and that is what you build in glossary model.

Building Glossary Model

The InfoSphere Data Architect (IDA) allows you to build a glossary model from blank or from pre-defined enterprise model.

Creating glossary model and selecting its template, blank or pre-built enterprise template

The enterprise glossary model gives you a head start with its collection of words relevant across various business types, most of which would probably be applicable to your business too. You can customize the glossary: change or delete the existing words, or add new ones.

Selecting an existing word or words in the list and then clicking the cross icon will delete the selected words

 

Clicking the plus icon allows you to add a new word into the glossary

 

When you add a new word, in addition to the name, you specify its Abbreviation, Alternate name, and most importantly its type (CLASS, PRIME) and if it is a Modifier word. When the glossary is applied for transforming a logical to physical model, the abbreviation is applied to the physical modeling object.

Customizing a word being added

 

Selecting the type of a word

 

Before we can apply the words to naming our data model objects, we need to define the naming pattern. You can define the naming pattern for logical and physical modeling objects. The sequence of the word types in the pattern from top to bottom is left to right when you apply them in the names. You can also choose the separator for your naming pattern: space or title case for the logical model, and any character for the physical model (most preferred choice would be non alpha numeric character that is not used in any of the words in the glossary).

Defining pattern for logical model objects (entity and attribute)

 

Defining pattern for physical model objects (table and column)

 

Specifying separator for logical model

 

Specifying separator for physical model

You then choose the glossary model that you want to apply to your data models.

Glossary Model.ndm in the packtpub directory is applied

 

When you have finished building your glossary model and defining naming pattern, you can then apply them for naming your modeling objects. (You can further adjust the words in the glossary them when such a need arises)

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Applying Naming Standard

The glossary model helps you in two ways: Assigning names during modeling and analyzing the names in your model for compliance to the standards in the glossary.

When you are naming a model object, you can show the naming pattern for the object and the list of words in the glossary.

Pattern for an entity name

 

List of words in the glossary model

When you type in the leading characters of the word you are looking for, the list smartly points to the word. When you move to a word, its information is shown and if it is the one you want, you can select it by just clicking Enter.

Looking for COVERAGE

 

Analyzing Model Object Names

You can analyze the names in your logical model for their compliance to the standard in the glossary model.

Selecting the model to be validated

 

Selecting naming standard validation for naming compliance

 

You can choose the glossary model you want to use for validating the names in your data model

 

At the end of the analysis, you will get a successful completion message, or list of errors.

Error messages, primarily caused by POLICY being not in the glossary

 

Summary

This article shows the major capabilities of IBM InfoSphere Data Architect which specifically helps you in automating data model naming. You store your standard names and also define the naming pattern which you can utilize later while modeling. You can also use the glossary to analyze an existing model for naming compliance.

IBM WebSphere eXtreme Scale 6 Build scalable, high-performance software with IBM's WebSphere eXtreme Scale 6 data grid with this book and eBook
Published: November 2009
eBook Price: £22.99
Book Price: £36.99
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Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Djoni Darmawikarta built his career in IBM Asia Pacific and Canada as a software engineer, international consultant, instructor and project manager, for a total of 17 years. He's currently a technical specialist in the Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence team of a Toronto-based insurance company. Outside of his office works, Djoni writes IT articles and books.

 

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