Relational Database Design and Management

Benefits of Relational Databases

A properly configured relational database can not only increase the speed and efficiency which data are accessed, but by connecting disparate pieces of data, can also yield new information that is not otherwise obvious. In a relational database, each record of data is related to other data records in other tables by a key identifier. This allows the collective database to store information more efficiently than simply storing one massive table of data.

Traditionally, data has been analyzed in smaller, more manageable segments. Analyzing data as a whole allows one to realize trends and interactions that may not be obvious when they are considered on an individual basis. Analyzing larger sets of data is also more efficient in that procedures that often need to be repeated for each set of data can be performed a single time. There are also great advantages in the ability to store all the data associated with a site in one location. This is not only a more efficient manner to store data, but also provides a mechanism to query data for specific desirable parameters associated with a specific project.

Types of Databases

The type or brand of database one uses depends on the:

  • The end use of the database;
  • Who will need direct access to it and what their skill sets are;
  • The applications which it will support; and
  • The expertise at hand to manage it

Microsoft Access® is the most common “desktop” grade database. Larger applications and needs require databases that run on a dedicated server and are often referred to as enterprise databases. These databases include commercial applications including Oracle® and Microsoft SQL Server® and Open Source database applications such as MySQL® and PostgreSQL®. Databases can also be configured to store spatial or GIS data; examples of these include ArcSDE Server®, Oracle Spatial®, and PostGIS for PostgreSQL.

Learn more about how ddms utilizes spatial data in a GIS

User Interfaces

The data stored within a database is only useful if it is accessable to users realizing not everyone’s strengths lie in database administration or SQL (a database language used to cull and manipulate data). To make a database more accessible to more users, ddms’s database administrators create user interfaces or forms which are commonly used to access and possibly enter data into a database. Many software applications available today are nothing more than a front end user interface used to access a database which operates behind the scenes.

ddms excels in user interface design and creation. We have built front end interfaces for applications from robust time and expense tracking utilities to field applications which run on a Tablet PC used to record soil boring lithology. User interfaces can be created using a variety of platorms (i.e. Java, Visual Basic .Net, etc.). Visual Basic for Applications is commonly used to rapidly create user interfaces as a front end to databases such as Micoroft Access.

ddms Database Management Services

Whether you are interested in migrating data from hard copy documents or spreadsheets or currently use databases but would like to build on or have them managed, ddms can help you attain your database goals.

The staff at ddms has experience in creating, managing, designing user interfaces and tuning. We also have experience in working with spatial databases. Contact ddms to further discuss your database needs.