[FoRK] Databases... XML too...

Gavin Thomas Nicol gtn at rbii.com
Sat Sep 11 18:26:35 PDT 2004


On Aug 27, 2004, at 3:23 AM, J.Andrew Rogers wrote:
> There is a progression when learning how to build real databases that 
> many people never complete.  At some point, you learn all the theory 
> of normalization and ideal database design, and apparently Professor W 
> has taken it to heart.  Unfortunately, at this point you are still a 
> total amateur because becoming a working professional is all about 
> learning that the theory is broken in practice in that the model 
> doesn't even consider runtime trade-offs and dynamics, which are far 
> more important to business than having some ivory tower notion of the 
> perfect schema.

FWIW. This is the *exact* same thing you find with XML. In fact, a lot 
of the nonsense around XML comes from people, and largish groups, 
making assumptions based on skewed or no practical experience 
(namespaces and schemas spring to mind).

I used to teach SGML DTD courses years ago, and used to use a phonebook 
as the data, and then ask people to write a DTD for it (for the idea 
from Mulberry). It is almost impossible to capture a phone book in a 
completely normalized form, and the DTD ends up being difficult to use 
and difficult to understand. After a day of banging your head on it, 
your learn the lesson of ideal vs. practical DTD design...



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