Re: Stick a FoRK in it: Bitzi

From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Wed Apr 25 2001 - 11:29:06 PDT

Gordon Mohr wrote:
> Stephen D. Williams writes:
> > Gordon Mohr wrote:
> > The whole relational style field thing is passe. Dead. Brain damaged.
> > Morally corrupt.
> Easy to say! But an awful lot of businesses have died trying to discard
> (internally) or compete with (externally) the relational model.

No, nothing wrong with the relational model, just the 'relational style
field thing'. In other words, SQL queries are great for the 90% of the
time that they are appropriate. The problem is that the actual data
model shouldn't be the same as the logical model that SQL implies. I'm
proposing a merger between relational queries/model and XML, full-text,
and possibly some object database ideas. My canonical example is this:

Design the database architecture for an inventory system for a hypermart
(Meijer, Wal-mart (kind of), etc.).

Each distinct item category and type (probably 30,000+ in modern stores)
has unique attributes that you need to be able to search on. Examples:
shoes: gender, width, size, type, subtype, color, material upper,
material sole, etc. Screws: metal, length, threads, thread type, head
type, head size, count.

In a sufficiently large application (i.e. a hypermart), traditional
relational databases have three possible solutions:

Maintain fields only for completely generic items: manuf., price, count,

Create a small number of tables with many fields, only a few of which
apply to a given item.

Create a large number of tables with fields specific to smaller and
smaller granularity.

The first solution can be augmented by full-text search, but since there
is no obvious way (pre-xml) to tag key words, this is only useful in a
subset of cases.

If the table was simply a table of XML documents which were auto-indexed
on the 'fields', i.e. tagged data items, that they do have, you could
still do relational queries but would have a far smaller maintenance

Schema migration is a nightmare, generally, and easily avoided using the
above model.

These guys are getting close to what I want (and have wanted for since
mid 1998 or before):

It could also be hacked into MySQL as a storage layer. I'd like to work
on it, but it's further down my todo list at the moment that other
interesting and paying projects.

> > > We'll also be tweaking the rating system as necessary to promote
> > > participation, deter gaming, and highlight the most-popular,
> >
> > Deter gaming? There's got to be a story or interesting fear there.
> Nothing specific. We'd like to offer tangible rewards for volume
> contributions or top ratings, but we don't want people to then
> perform those activities unthinkingly, creating bad content, just
> for the rewards. That's all.
> - Gojomo
> ______________________________
> Gordon Mohr -
> CTO, Bitzi -
> Personal -


Stephen D. Williams
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 

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