Database Organization

Great organization is the key to success in many aspects of our lives. Usability is a key feature in the applications we build, yet these factors don’t always carry over into database organization, especially in growing systems. Just because your database isn’t the face of the application, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have the same sense of flow and organization that the application does. Maintain and organize your database as you would other areas of your life (i.e. your home). Organization should be purposeful, have a basic sense of flow, and be ready to show off when necessary.

Table and Column Naming Conventions

I often see table and column naming conventions that appear cryptic, coded or simply incorrect. Table and column names should reflect the data that they store. Find a standard in your application and stick to it; it will make maintaining and troubleshooting the application in the future a whole lot easier. You wouldn’t organize your office files and label them “x” or “col1,” so why do it with your database?

Related and Duplicate Data

Keeping redundant data can cause multiple issues with your application, including rapid growth in your database and confusion about which data is accurate.

In the same sense, storing related data in unrelated tables can cause the same issues. It falls in line with the same point regarding table and column naming conventions. Data should be grouped together as it makes sense for the application. Doing this will most likely improve the performance of your application; databases with normalized, properly indexed data translate to higher performing applications

Routine Maintenance

Vehicle engines and home utilities require routine maintenance–your application database is no different. Applications grow and evolve over time and you need to ensure that your databases grow and evolve with them. Maintaining database indexes is the key to keeping your application performing at a high level. Scheduling weekly, monthly, or quarterly reviews of your database indexes will help maintain these efforts.

Review the growth of your database tables; it’s easy to assume transactional table data needs to be stored indefinitely. Know how long your application needs to review and access historical data. Data can be easily archived out to a reporting database to minimize the size of your transactional tables

The simple, every day organization and guidelines that make you successful should reflect in your application database. Remember, bad habits and sloppiness in setting up your application database are the quickest way to cause problems for your application.

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Doing (and Feeling) Good – Social Media and Cool T-Shirts

Thanks to Algonquin’s corporate membership, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the Buffalo Chapter of Social Media Club for a while now. The opportunities offered through SMCBuffalo, to network and learn more about Buffalo’s ever-evolving social media community, are always enjoyable and I’ve been able to help plan and attend events like TacoVino and beSOCIAL, which are great learning experiences and a lot of fun.

Taco Vino Logo

Easily my favorite connection made through SMCBuffalo, though, was getting the chance to meet Dan Gigante and to become one of the participating artists for his “buy one, give one” organization, You and Who, which sells one-of-a-kind designer t-shirts that help worthy causes in cities across the US. Every time a shirt is purchased, You and Who gives the same shirt to someone in need through their collaboration with charitable organizations in the t-shirt designers’ cities.

You and Who Buffalo Tree Shirt

Back in 2010, I designed a t-shirt for Algonquin Studios employees to wear in a local charity 5k. My design wasn’t used come race day, but when I met Dan, I realized it could still be put to good use through You and Who. My “Buffalo Tree” design fit the organization’s “New Beginnings” theme perfectly and became one of the first shirts made available through You and Who. Now, for every Buffalo Tree shirt sold through You and Who, a shirt donation is also made to one of five charitable organizations in the City of Buffalo. In addition, my “artist earnings” of $1 per shirt sold benefits Buffalo Soccer Club (the pilot program of Algonquin Sports for Kids, a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Algonquin Studios) with donations around $75/month.

Buffalo Soccer Club offers low and no-cost soccer programs for urban children in the City of Buffalo, encouraging participants to develop good physical health, positive levels of self-esteem, and core ethical principals in a safe, fun environment. And, while I’m really no good at playing soccer (trust me I’ve tried), the connection I made with Dan through SMCBuffalo gives me the opportunity to contribute to Buffalo Soccer Club, local charities, and my community at large in a much bigger way than I could personally afford to.

I feel lucky to be a member of an organization like SMCBuffalo, where I can connect with so many smart, fun, and creative people in my city. And I appreciate the opportunities at Algonquin Studios, where I can use my own creativity on projects that benefit so many different people in my community.