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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

Art vs. Science

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Published Saturday, July 11, 2009 11:46 PM by andyleonard

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PercyReyes said:


you're right, but I considered more art than science.

July 12, 2009 1:04 AM

Phil Factor said:

Thanks for the plug, Andy. Database design can be an art, but only after one has mastered the science.

Occasionally, I've sat back from creating a database application with the same sense of achievement as I get from creating a good painting or poem.

My happiest databases have been created by me alone. I wrote an article about one of those occasions. 'Creation by Committee'  The artist that I used in the story was Michelangelo.

July 12, 2009 4:39 AM

Tim Mitchell said:

These BASE systems may represent a narrow threat to two different segments.  The first group is those large and highly specialized systems such as those mentioned in Phil's article.  The other group is the sloppy databases designed as a simple add-on to an application, just a "place to store bits", without regard to referential integrity or proper indexing. Using Andy's painting analogy, I liken the latter group to painting the inside of a backwoods auto mechanic's shop.  "Yes, the place needs to be painted, but we're not in the painting business so we don't care if it's sloppy."

July 12, 2009 4:11 PM

Duke Ganote said:

The issue boils down to: how stand-alone is the application?  If it's totally stand-alone, then the data implementation can be solely for the convenience of the app designer.  But those apps are few and far between: most companies want to see reports, gauge effectiveness, share a customer master and a product master and to measure ROI.  Stand-alone apps are rarely designed for that "enterprise vantage."

If the data is a shared resource, then it's an enterprise resource and needs to be managed and designed as such.

It's like the difference between a go-kart and a Hummer.  They each have different degrees of "beauty."

The go-kart is lots easier to build, and may have some specialized military usage.  But I'd rarely choose one for battle.

July 13, 2009 11:52 AM

Log Buffer said:

"Andy Leonard has been thinking about the profession of the DBA, in light of non-relational DBMSs, and concludes that it’s a question of Art vs. Science. [...]

July 17, 2009 2:34 PM

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