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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conceptual Data Models for Database Design

Conceptual modeling is an important phase in designing a successful database application. The database design process consists of a number of steps listed below:

Step 1: Requirements Collection and Analysis
- Prospective users are interviewed to understand and document data requirements
This step results in a concise set of user requirements, which should be detailed and complete.
- The functional requirements should be specified, as well as the data requirements. Functional requirements consist of user operations that will be applied to the database, including retrievals and updates.
- Functional requirements can be documented using diagrams such as sequence diagrams, data flow diagrams, scenarios, etc.

Database Design

Step 2: Conceptual Design / Data Modeling
- Once the requirements are collected and analyzed, the designers go about creating the conceptual schema.
- Conceptual schema: concise description of data requirements of the users, and includes a detailed description of the entity types, relationships and constraints.
- The concepts do not include implementation details; therefore the end users easily understand them, and they can be used as a communication tool.
- The conceptual schema is used to ensure all user requirements are met, and they do not conflict.

Step 3: Database Design
- Two sub-steps called Database Logical Design which define a database in a data model of a specific DBMS and Database Physical Design which define the internal database storage structure are defined.
- It also defines file organization or indexing techniques.

Step 4: Database Implementation
- Many DBMS systems use an implementation data model, so the conceptual schema is transformed from the high-level data model into the implementation data model.
- This step is called logical design or data model mapping, which results in the implementation data model of the DBMS.

Step 5: Physical Design
- Internal storage structures, indexes, access paths and file organizations are specified.
- Application programs are designed and implemented.

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