Database Design

One of the developers on our team was assigned to design and code a new feature in the system. This particular feature was not too complex. However in the past, this developer only did some coding. He called me up and asked me how he should implement the changes. I told him he should understand the requirements, and put together a design. He was very nervous about this. He shouldn't be. The guy has a PhD in computer science. He is was also hired as a senior developer. This should be a cake walk.

The guy came up with a design to add a column to one of our tables to track the timing of when to do some follow on tasks. That sounded good until he wanted to set the value in a trigger. Unfortuantely the trigger was on the table he was trying to modify. He found this did not work, as it was illegal in the specific trigger he was modifying. Then he decided he needed a small additional table to track the timing.

Unfortunately, the database changes went into review by an external team. They found the design lacking. This external team came up with all kinds of other designs to solve the problem. Unfortunately this was late in the development life cycle. That's where I got dragged into the scene. I took a look at all the proposed designs. Each of them would work. In the end, the main driver for sticking with the original design was that the work was already complete.

The outside team got some recommendations in though. There were be a history of the timing. There would be extra columns tracking who did what. Now that little table is getting bigger and more complex. It still will achieve the business objective. And the work is just about done. The moral of the story is that you have to practive doing designs before you can produce solid ones.