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The chapter opened with an explanation of why field specifications are important and the benefits you derive from defining them. You learned that defining specifications helps you establish and enforce field-level integrity, enhances overall data integrity, and compels you to acquire a complete understanding of the nature and purpose of the data in the database. This level of understanding enables you to leverage the data to your best advantage.

Next, we discussed the anatomy of a field specification. You're now familiar with the three categories of elements within the specification and the sheet you use to record them. We then discussed each category and its elements in detail. As you now know, the General Elements category represents the most basic attributes of the field. During this discussion, you learned a set of guidelines that will help you compose a good field description. You also learned that you could define three types of specifications, thus enabling you to establish and maintain consistent field definitions. We examined the Physical Elements category next, and you learned that it pertains to the structure of the field. The Logical Elements category was the last topic of discussion in this section. You now know that it mainly pertains to a field's values and that it includes elements such as Key Type, Null Support, Range of Values, Edit Rule, Comparisons Allowed, and Operations Allowed.

We then discussed how to use each type of specification, and you learned a set of guidelines that will help you determine which one to define for a given field. You also examined samples of the specifications, and you know how they differ.

The chapter ended with a discussion of defining field specifications for each field. Here you learned that the best way to ensure complete and accurate specifications is to work with users and management to define them. You should first define as many specifications as you can and then work with the staff to define specifications for the remaining fields. You also learned that you could work with staff to refine the specifications you initially defined.


Part II: The Design Process