Sunday, July 30, 2017

Integrity Is Not Only Referential

Many years ago I wrote an article with this title that carried a dual meaning. The first alluded to vendors claiming relational features--in that case Borland's Paradox referred to a form--based (i.e., application-based) feature as referential integrity. Vendors get away with this because of the second, literal meaning: data professionals may be familiar with uniqueness (PK) and referential (FK) constraints only because they are the only two types of constraints with shorthands enforced by SQL DBMSs that are "out of the box", but are unaware of the several other types of relational constraints and their lack of support in SQL. They are either unsupported declaratively, supported via stored procedures outside the RDM, or not at all, with loss of relational advantages. Even if they were supported, they require proficiency in formalization of conceptual business rules as logical constraints and validation--that most practitioners don't possess.

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