BACKGROUND: CACI is an international information technology products and services company headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Celebrating 37 years in business, CACI specializes in developing and integrating systems, software and simulation products in support of government and commercial clients worldwide. CACI delivers client solutions for systems integration, Year 2000 conversion, information assurance/security, reengineering, electronic commerce, intelligent document management, product data management, software development and reuse, telecommunications and market analysis.
PLATFORMS: CACI runs Oracle7.3 and 8 on Windows NT and UNIX systems. DB-Examiner runs on a Windows 95 platform and connects via SQL*Net. DB-Examiner can be installed on Windows 98 and Windows NT.
PROBLEM SOLVED: CACI personnel are continually challenged to provide high-quality database analyses in our role as both software developer and integrator. We are often asked to develop functional capabilities or correct deficiencies in customer applications where there is very little application or database documentation. In addition, we analyze source database structures in our data warehouse design efforts. One of our first responsibilities in this process is to determine if there are physical design deficiencies within the database that contribute to performance or integrity issues. Before implementing DB-Examiner, database design analysis was done manually. This effort was very labor intensive since we needed to examine consistency in column data types, indexing issues, constraints, normalization deviations and relationship problems such as looping. We found that DB-Examiner allowed us to quickly and thoroughly evaluate relational database design integrity. Another area in which DB-Examiner can be employed is within the development of a new database. While DB-Examiner is not an IDEF1X CASE tool, it does have a visual modeling capability, and it fits nicely into the development process by allowing us to quickly analyze new database design. It also will generate the appropriate corrective SQL Scripts to apply corrective alterations to the database.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DB-Examiner Version 4.0 for Oracle is a desktop analysis tool for Oracle7 and 8 RDBMS structures, and it provides database diagnostics and structural model reports through a six-step process: model creation, data refinement, reverse engineering, diagnostics, layout and reporting. During initial model creation, database structural definition information is loaded into DB-Examiner via a direct connect to the database (SQL Net) or through reading the database creation SQL Scripts. The user can then refine the initial definition of these structures by declaring column synonyms and homonyms, identifying mirror history tables or excluding some tables from analysis, and declaring precise relationship data. DB-Examiner reverse engineers the structures, taking into account any user-defined qualifications. The tool then conducts a database structural analysis, identifying potential deficiencies in the areas of column definition, indexes and constraints, normalization and relationship paths. The tool can then create a graphical design of the database structures as well as comprehensive diagnostic reports.
STRENGTHS: This is a highly functional and stable tool, but its main strength is that it can quickly provide an in-depth analysis. For example, the tool can evaluate a database of several hundred tables and provide complete structural diagnostics within an hour. An effort of this size would formerly have taken days.
WEAKNESSES: DB-Examiner provides a thorough diagnostic report in presentation quality, but the report cannot be saved outside of the application in a text format; it can only be printed as a hard copy deliverable. DBE is working on a release that will allow saving the text of a report to a file and compare multiple versions of a database.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Our requirement was to have a fast and efficient tool for Oracle database structural design analysis. DB-Examiner fit the bill well.
DELIVERABLES: The DBE reports are comprehensive and provide a good baseline for additional database development.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We have not required any technical support. It is easy to install and is a stable desktop application.
DOCUMENTATION: DBE Software provides a comprehensive user manual in MS Word format. There is also a very adequate on-line help. We really haven't needed to refer to the documentation too much; working with the application is intuitive.
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