* What normalization is
* Benefits of normalization
* Advantages of denormalization
* Normalization techniques
* Guidelines of normalization
* The three normal forms
* Database design
Normalizing a Database
Normalization is a process of reducing redundancies of data in a database. Normalization is a technique that is used when designing and redesigning a database. Normalization is a process or set of guidelines used to optimally design a database to reduce redundant data. The actual guidelines of normalization, called normal forms, will be discussed later in this hour. It was a difficult decision to decide whether to cover normalization in this book because of the complexity involved in understanding the rules of the normal forms this early on in your SQL journey. However, normalization is an important process that, if understood, will increase your understanding of SQL. We have attempted to simplify the process of normalization as much as possible in this hour. At this point, don't be overly concerned with all the specifics of normalization; it is most important to understand the basic concepts. The Raw Database
A database that is not normalized may include data that is contained in one or more different tables for no apparent reason. This could be bad for security reasons, disk space usage, speed of queries, efficiency of database updates, and, maybe most importantly, data integrity. A database before normalization is one that has not been broken down logically into smaller, more manageable tables. Figure 4.1 illustrates the database used for this book before it was normalized.
Logical Database Design
Any database should be designed with the end user in mind. Logical database design, also referred to as the logical model, is the process of arranging data into logical, organized groups of objects that can easily be maintained. The logical design of a database should reduce data repetition or go so far as to completely eliminate it. After all, why store the same data twice? Naming conventions used in a database should also be standard and logical.
The needs of the end user should be one of the top considerations when designing a database. Remember that the end user is the person who ultimately uses the database. There should be ease of use through the user's front-end tool (a client program that allows a user access to a database), but this, along with optimal performance, cannot be achieved if the user's needs are not taken into consideration. Some user-related design considerations include the following: * What data should be stored in the database?
* How will the user access the database?
* What privileges does the user require?
* How should the data be grouped in the database?
* What data is the most commonly accessed?
* How is all data related in the database?
* What measures should be taken to ensure accurate data? Data Redundancy
Data should not be redundant, which means that the duplication of data should be kept to a minimum for several reasons. For example, it is unnecessary to store an employee's home address in more than one table. With duplicate data, unnecessary space is used. Confusion is always a threat when, for instance, an address for an employee in one table does not match the address of the same employee in another table. Which table is correct? Do you have documentation to verify the employee's current address? As if data management were not difficult enough, redundancy of data could prove to be a disaster....