Sorry Database Nerds, Nobody Actually Gives a Shit…

So I’ve been in more than a few conversations about data structures, various academic conversations and other notions about where and how data should be stored. I’ve been on projects and managed projects that involve teams of people determining how to manage data so that other people can just not manage data. They want to focus on business use and not the data mechanisms underneath. The root of everything around databases really boils down to a single thing – how can we store X and retrieve X – nobody actually trying to get business done or change the world is going to dig into the data storage mechanisms if they don’t have to. To summarize,

nobody actually gives a shit…

At least nobody does until the database breaks, or somebody has to be hired to manage or tune queries or something or some other problem comes up. In the ideal world we could just put data into the ether and have it come back when we ask for it. Unfortunately we have to keep caring for where the data is, how it’s stored, the schema (even in schema-less, you still need to know the schema of the data at some point, it’s just another abstraction to push off dealing with the database), how to backup, recover, data gravity, proximity and a host of other concerns. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just work on our app or business? Wouldn’t it be nice to just, well, focus on things we actually give a shit about?

Managed Data Systems!

The whole *aaS and PaaS World has been pushing to simplify operations to the point that the primary, if not the only concern, is the business itself. This is a pretty big step in many ways, but holds a lot of hope and promise around fixing the data gravity, proximity, management and related concerns. One provider of services that has an interesting start around the NoSQL realm is Orchestrate.io. I’ll have more about them in the future, as I’ll actually be working on hacking on some code against their platform. They’re currently solving a number of the mentioned issues. Which is great, a solid starting point that takes us past the draconian nature of the old approach to NoSQL and Relational Databases in general.

There has been some others, such as Mongo Labs or such, that have created a sort of DBaaS. This however doesn’t fill the gap that Orchestrate.io is filling. So far almost every *aaS database or other solution has merely been a single type of database that a developer can just throw data at in a single kind of way. Not really flexible, and really only abstracting some manual work, but not providing much additional value add around using the actual data. Orchestrate.io is bridging these together with search, replication and other features to provide a platform on which multiple options are available via the API. Key value, geo, time series and others are all coming together for them nicely. Having all the options actually creates a real value add, versus just provide one single way to do one thing.

Intelligent Data Systems?

After checking out and interviewing Orchestrate.io recently I’ve stumbled into a few other ideas. It would be perfect for them to implement or for the open source community to take a stab at. What would happen if the systems storing the data knew where to put things? What would be the case for providing an intelligent indexing policy or architecture at the schema design decision layer, the area where a person usually must intervene? Could it be done?

A decision tier that scans and makes decisions on the data to revamp the way it is stored against a key value, geo, time series or other method. Could it be done in real time? Would it have to go through some type of processing system? The options around implementing something like this are numerous, but this just leaves a lot of space for providing value add around the data to reduce the complexity of this decision making.

Imagine you have key value data, that needs to be associative based on graph principles, that you must store in a highly available system with pertinent real-time data provided based on those graph relations. A decision layer, to create an intelligent data system, could monitor the data and determine the frequent query paths against the data. If the data is growing old it could move data from real-time to archival via the key value. Other decisions could be made to push up data segments into a cache tier or some other mechanism to provide realtime graph connections to client queries. These are all decisions that would need to be made by somebody working on the data, but could be put into a set of rules to allow for re-allocation of the data via automated mechanisms into better storage options. Why keep old data that isn’t queried in the active in memory graph store, push it to the distributed key store. Why keep the graph data on drive when it can be in memory with correlated keys in a key value in memory store, backed by an on drive key value? All valid decisions, all becoming better understood day by day. It’s about time some of this decision process started to be automated.

What are your thoughts? Pro-intelligent data systems or anti-intelligent data systems? Think it’ll work or is it the wrong approach? Maybe the system should approach some other zenith or axiom point to become truly abstracted and transparent?

Widgetz SQL Server DB + ASP.NET MVC 3 Web Application Scaffolding

This is a quick walk through of how to setup a database, create some model objects, and build a scaffold for CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) all using ASP.NET MVC 3 and Visual Studio 2010.

Open Visual Studio 2010 and start a database project as shown.

SQL Server 2008 Database Project in Visual Studio 2010 (Click for full size image)
SQL Server 2008 Database Project in Visual Studio 2010 (Click for full size image)

Next create an ASP.NET MVC 3 Web Application in this solution.

ASP.NET MVC 3 Web Application (Click for full size image)
ASP.NET MVC 3 Web Application (Click for full size image)

Now open the Server Explorer in Visual Studio 2010 (You might have to click on View to find it if it isn’t already available in the main IDE). Right click on the Data Connections node in the Service Explorer Tree. Select Create Database and provide a name for the database.

Create a New SQL 2008 Database
Create a New SQL 2008 Database
New Database Dialog
New Database Dialog

Next in the Server Explorer, right click on the newly created database and select New Query. Then in the query window paste this SQL create script in and run it by right clicking and selecting execute.

[sourcecode languag=”sql”]
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Widgetz] (
[Id] UNIQUEIDENTIFIER NOT NULL,
[Name] NVARCHAR (50) NOT NULL,
[Description] NTEXT NULL,
[Created] DATETIME NOT NULL,
[Terminated] DATETIME NULL,
[Addon] BIT NOT NULL,
[Active] BIT NOT NULL,
[Cost] MONEY NULL,
[ChildWidgetz] INT NULL
);

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Widgetz]
ADD CONSTRAINT [PK_Widgetz] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED ([Name] ASC) WITH (ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON, ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS = ON, PAD_INDEX = OFF, IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF, STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE = OFF);

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Widgetz]
ADD CONSTRAINT [DF_Widgetz_Created] DEFAULT (getdate()) FOR [Created];

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Widgetz]
ADD CONSTRAINT [DF_Widgetz_Active] DEFAULT ((1)) FOR [Active];

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Widgetz]
ADD CONSTRAINT [DF_Widgetz_Addon] DEFAULT ((0)) FOR [Addon];
[/sourcecode]

Once the table is created bring to focus the Solution Explorer and right click on the Database Project, selecting the Import Database Objects and Settings.

Import Database Objects and Settings...
Import Database Objects and Settings...

Next select the correct database connection, and leave everything else as it is set.

Selecting the appropriate database, options, and click next... (Click for the full size image)
Selecting the appropriate database, options, and click next... (Click for the full size image)

Next the wizard will finish importing the database objects.

Finished (Click for full size image)
Finished (Click for full size image)

If you look through the folder tree of the project you’ll find individual files for the table, defaults, and other object settings.

Now right click on the Models directory of the ASP.NET MVC 3 Project that was created earlier. Select add and then new item. In that dialog add a new ADO.NET Entity Data Model.

Yup, just when you think it had gone away...  ADO.NET (Click for full size image)
Yup, just when you think it had gone away... ADO.NET (Click for full size image)

A dialog will appear, select the option to Generate from database and click next.

Entity Data Model Wizard (Click for full size image)
Entity Data Model Wizard (Click for full size image)

Next select the correct database connection again, then click on Yes to save the sensitive data (which if you’re using windows authentication it isn’t really going to save anything dangerous). Make sure the entities are named appropriately and click Next.

Options for Creating the ADO.NET Entity Model
Options for Creating the ADO.NET Entity Model

The next screen, which may take a moment or two to display the list of tables and objects, will appear. Select the table that has been created and click on

Entity Data Model Wizard (Click for full size image)
Entity Data Model Wizard (Click for full size image)

Once done and finish is clicked, the entity model file will show the display view of the entity that was just created.

Entity Model
Entity Model

Now right click on the controller folder and select to create a new controller.

Add Controller (Click for full size image)
Add Controller (Click for full size image)

Be sure to click the advanced options and select the layout page.

Advanced Options (Click for full size image)
Advanced Options (Click for full size image)

Now click on Ok and then Add. Visual Studio 2010 will not generate the scaffolding for the controller and views around CRUD operations.

The Scaffolding in ASP.NET MVC 3
The Scaffolding in ASP.NET MVC 3

This might seem like an absurdly easy thing to do, and you’d be right. There are however many steps to turn this into a feasible, well design user interface, and provide a solid and intelligent user experience (UX) to the end user. Also, this is arguably a not so maintainable bit of work. If the end user ONLY wants to operate on the data with CRUD, then this is great. But the minute something else is needed a very different, testable, and maintainable architecture should be utilized instead of this generated scaffolding. Which in coming blog entries I will be covering some of the ways to create testable, maintainable, and better designed architecture around more than CRUD.  🙂

CODE: All the code for this project is available in the Lesson 1 – ScaffoldGeneratedWidgetz.

A SQL Server .NET ASP.NET MVC RESTful Web Services Facade – Part I

Did I get enough of the acronyms and key words in the header?  It looks like soup!  :O

This is a somewhat messy project to build a prototype layer around SQL Server. The reason for this, shockingly, is to allow for a SQL Server to be used by frameworks and systems that normally don’t or can’t access the database directly. In my particular scenario we’re working on getting Ruby on Rails running with JRuby in a Windows Environment. Because we will need to utilize a lot of SQL Server Databases, it seemed like a great idea to build out a layer over the SQL Server (or Servers) so that a Ruby on Rails Web App, ASP.NET MVC, or even a PHP or pure Javascript Application could access the data in the database. What better way to do that then to create a RESTful Web Services Facade over the database.

Some of you might be thinking “Why not use RIA Services?!?!?! Are you mad!!” Well, there is a big problem, RIA Services doesn’t work against SQL 2000 or SQL 2005, which is the database technology that this particular requirement dictated. Well, now that you have context, I’ll dig straight in to what I did building this prototype out.

Kick Out a SQL Server Database Project

I need some data, and a database, with just some of the standard junk you’d expect in a production database. One of the best ways to throw together a database in a really short amount of time, with data, is to use a SQL Server Database Project.

New Database Project (Click for larger image)
New Database Project (Click for larger image)

You might see this and think, “But you said that the facade is against a SQL Server 2000 or 2005 database!” Well, it is, but to get a database running locally and have this project type work, I’m using my local SQL Server 2008 Express installation. However, I’m limiting myself to data types primarily available to SQL Server 2000 and 2005. So no worries, this works just fine against those archaic databases.  😛

First I ran the following script to create the database and some sample tables with various data types.

[sourcecode language=”sql”]
DROP DATABASE SomeExistingOrMigratedDatabase
GO
CREATE DATABASE SomeExistingOrMigratedDatabase
GO
USE SomeExistingOrMigratedDatabase
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.foreign_keys WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[FK_Person_Village]’) AND parent_object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Person]’))
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Person] DROP CONSTRAINT [FK_Person_Village]
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Person]’) AND type in (N’U’))
DROP TABLE [dbo].[Person]
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[SomeFlatDenormalizedDataTable]’) AND type in (N’U’))
DROP TABLE [dbo].[SomeFlatDenormalizedDataTable]
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Village]’) AND type in (N’U’))
DROP TABLE [dbo].[Village]
GO
SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Village]’) AND type in (N’U’))
BEGIN
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Village](
[Id] [uniqueidentifier] NOT NULL,
[Village] [nvarchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Village] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
[Id] ASC
)WITH (PAD_INDEX = OFF, STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE = OFF, IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF, ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS = ON, ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON)
)
END
GO
SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[SomeFlatDenormalizedDataTable]’) AND type in (N’U’))
BEGIN
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[SomeFlatDenormalizedDataTable](
[Id] [uniqueidentifier] NOT NULL,
[StarzDate] [datetime] NOT NULL,
[Numerals] [int] NULL,
[Numberals] [int] NULL,
[Monies] [decimal](14, 4) NOT NULL,
[Day] [int] NOT NULL,
[Month] [int] NOT NULL,
[Year] [int] NOT NULL,
[BigNonsense] [ntext] COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
[Flotsam] [float] NULL,
[Jetsam] [float] NULL,
[SmallishText] [nvarchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
[BiggishText] [nvarchar](2999) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_SomeFlatDenormalizedDataTable] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
[Id] ASC
)WITH (PAD_INDEX = OFF, STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE = OFF, IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF, ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS = ON, ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON)
)
END
GO
SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.objects WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Person]’) AND type in (N’U’))
BEGIN
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Person](
[Id] [uniqueidentifier] NOT NULL,
[Name] [nvarchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NOT NULL,
[DateOfBirth] [datetime] NOT NULL,
[VillageId] [uniqueidentifier] NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Person] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
[Id] ASC
)WITH (PAD_INDEX = OFF, STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE = OFF, IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF, ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS = ON, ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON)
)
END
GO
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.foreign_keys WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[FK_Person_Village]’) AND parent_object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Person]’))
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Person] WITH CHECK ADD CONSTRAINT [FK_Person_Village] FOREIGN KEY([VillageId])
REFERENCES [dbo].[Village] ([Id])
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.foreign_keys WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[FK_Person_Village]’) AND parent_object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'[dbo].[Person]’))
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Person] CHECK CONSTRAINT [FK_Person_Village]
[/sourcecode]

Once the database and tables are created, import the database into the database project. To do this select the “Import Database Objects and Settings…” by right clicking the context menu on the Database Project.

Import Database Objects and Settings...
Import Database Objects and Settings...

Select the database just created and click on start. Once the script generation is done, navigate into the project directories and you will see the following scripts have been created.

Generated Scripts (click for larger image)
Generated Scripts (click for larger image)

Next create a new data generation plan in the Data Generation Plans folder (notice I already cheated and have one in the above image).

Creating a Data Generation Plan
Creating a Data Generation Plan

Open up the file this creates (I called mine BuildSomeData.dgen). In the file, note I selected the relationship between the Village and People Tables, and set the ratio to 60:1. When you change the data in the Village table it then automatically updates how much data will be generated for the People Table.

Data Generation Plan
Data Generation Plan

When all that is done, hit F5, select the database and the data will be generated. That gets us a database with data to use as an existing source. From here I’ll jump into creating the actual Facade Layer.

NOTES: Once you generate data, depending on how much you decided to generate, you may want to see how big your database is by using the sp_dbhelp stored procedure. I am however, unsure which versions of SQL Server this stored procedure is available in.

Code for this project is available here: https://github.com/Adron/ExistingSqlServerProject