Topics Covered in This Chapter

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Why Field Specifications Are Important

Field-Level Integrity

Anatomy of a Field Specification

Using Unique, Generic, and Replica Field Specifications

Defining Field Specifications for Each Field in the Database

Case Study


Review Questions

Fields are the bedrock of the database. They represent characteristics of the subjects that are important to an organization. Fields store the data that the organization uses as the basis of informationinformation that is vital to its daily operations, success, and future growth. Despite their inherent value, fields are still the most overlooked, underutilized, and neglected assets of the organization! Frequently, little or no time is spent ensuring the structural and logical integrity of the fields in the database.

Much is said and written about data integrity, but little is done about it. Many people believe that keeping an eye on their data-entry personnel and having a "foolproof " user interface for the database will greatly minimize potential data-related problems. This superficial approach to data integrity commonly stems from an incorrect belief that proper data integrity takes too much time to establish. It's important to note, however, that the people who don't have time to establish data integrity usually spend a large amount of time fixing their improperly designed databasestypically spending up to three times as long as it would have taken them to design the database properly in the first place!

In this chapter, you'll learn how to establish data integrity by defining field specifications for each field in the database. First, you'll learn about the three sets of elements that compose a field specification; then you'll learn how to conduct interviews with users and management to enlist their help in defining the specifications for the fields.


Part II: The Design Process