Racing Database Redesign - Part 11 - Design And Admin Software

Just a quick note about design and admin software you can use on your project.

All the modelling I've talked about so far does not require any use of design software. Indeed, you don't need to go anywhere near your database application until you have to physically create the tables.

If you are using MS Access as your database, you can graphically create your relationship between tables and the software will prompt you accordingly for various settings. However, the tables have to be created beforehand - or they did in the last version of Access I used in anger. So you would have to do the modelling up front before creating the tables. You can of course invest in ERD design software but for small projects like this, it is unnecessary.

If you are using a MySQL server based database system like I am, particularly hosted on a Linux box, you have a number of options available to you. Note that MySQL is also available for Windows servers:

1. Webmin - A web based Linux server administration tool that lives on your server which comes with a MySQL administration module. It's primary role is for administering the server rather than creating databases but it does allow basic tasks such as creating/deleting tables, running SQL queries and the like. There is no ERD tool however.

2. phpMyAdmin - Another web based tool that lives on your server (Linux or Windows) but this is specifically designed for MySQL server admin and database creation. As such, it is much more sophisticated and offers complete control over your database design process, including an ERD module in which relationships can be graphically created and configured.

3. MySQL Workbench - A cross-platform client administration and database design tool giving you complete control over your MySQL server and database design process. The modelling feature is particularly useful in that it allows the design of the database to be done, including ERD, without the need to create the tables (the table fields and settings still have to be defined as part of the process). Once you are happy with the design the tables can be automatically created on the server with just a few mouse clicks. It's particularly useful for designing large databases over multiple servers.

While I like MySQL Workbench, I use phpMyAdmin as my tool of choice. Not only am I more familiar with it, but given the scale of databases I tent to create it suits my purposes perfectly. Also, because it is web based, hosted on my server, I can access it from any device without having to worry about installing software on each client.

The image above was created using phpMyAdmin's designer tool. You'll notice that there's a few additions to the EVENT table from last time. This is to allow me to analyse some of the in-running detail on a race-by-race basis. More of that nearer the time.

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