A database, explained simply, is a collection of data. It is easy to get mislead by this simple explanation, because databases can get much more complex than a simple text file with a list of names. In fact, database concepts such as relational database management systems complete with in-built tools provided by some of the world’s leading technology companies form the backbone of most modern websites as well as software.

Wherever you look, you’ll find a database – whether it be something as simple as a blog, to something as complex as an ERP system that manages an entire organization. Wherever there is some data that needs to be stored and accessed, databases come into the picture. The area of web development is especially reliant on database because the entire premise of websites is built around the user machine making a request for some kind of content, and the server delivering this content over the internet.

The data is stored on the server, and the entire process of the user requesting data, the server fetching it and delivering it to the user is the core function of database management. No matter the complexity of the database involved, each requires careful planning in order to run efficiently and securely. Therefore, all developers must know the basics of database design, irrespective of whether they are working with it directly or not, and online database management courses are a great place to begin to enhance your skillset! We tell you 4 things that are absolutely essential.

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1. Don’t Over Index

Indexing in a transactional environment is a balancing act. You try to enhance query response by creating indexes. However, the online transaction processing (OLTP) database’s primary purpose is capturing data, and if you over-index a transactional table, you might inhibit performance of INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations, leading to a deterioration of overall performance. Certainly you need to create some indexes on heavily used OLTP tables, but don’t overdo it—an UPDATE operation involves not only the data page but also the number of index pages that matches the number of indexed columns that you need to modify.  If you’re not careful in your Database Design, you can create indexes that take more space on disk than the original data pages.
“Wherever there is some data that needs to be stored and accessed, databases come into the picture.”

2. Use Check Constraints Properly

A check constraint is a rule that identifies acceptable column values for data in a row within a SQL Server table. Check Constraints help enforce domain integrity.  By using Check Constraints, you can make sure your database only contains data that passes your constraints. This allows you to let the database engine control your data validation. Doing this is beneficial as your application will not need to have data validation rules spread throughout your code in every location where you try to insert a record into or update a record in a table. Having check constraints is a clean way of performing data validation. Using Check Constraints cleverly in the Database Design is letting the database do as much work as possible.
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3. Normalization is Essential

Normalization is a logical Database design method. Normalization is a process of systematically breaking a complex table into simpler ones. It is built around the concept of normal forms. Database normalization is a process that reduces data to its canonical form. Normalization is in fact such an important topic in database management that several online database management courses are dedicated specifically to it. The idea behind normalization is that a table should be about a specific topic and that only those columns which support that topic are included. For example, a spreadsheet containing information about marketing people and customers serves several purposes:

  • Identify marketing people in your organization
  • List all customers your company calls upon to sell product
  • Identify which marketing people call on specific customers.

4. Use Triggers Prudently

Conceptually, a trigger listens for certain events (document create, delete, update, or the database coming online) to occur, and then invokes an XQuery module to run after the event occurs. The trigger definition determines whether the action module runs before or after committing the transaction which causes the trigger to fire. Creating a robust trigger framework during Database Design is complex, especially if your triggers need to maintain state or recover gracefully from service interruptions.

Cautious use of triggers is advised, however, because some functions that triggers used to do in the old days could now be performed in other ways such as updating totals and automatic calculation on a column. If you use several database controls such as CHECK, RI, Triggers on several table, your transaction detailed flow becomes complex to understand and maintain. You will need to know exactly what happens when. You will need good documentation for this.

While a basic level understanding of databases is usually a component of most online development courses, if you intend to develop a career in database, it is essential to choose a sub-domain and take up dedicated online database management courses which also provide components of live development and testing. betterU is a great place for beginners as well as experienced database professionals to hone their skills. Check out our wide variety of online database management courses and get learning!