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What Not How: The Business Rules Approach to Application Development Paperback – 12 Apr 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (12 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201708507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201708509
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 1 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,184,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

"What I think Date has done is nothing less than to lay out the foundational concepts for the next generation of business logic servers based on predicate logic. Such a breakthrough should revolutionize application development in our industry--and take business rules to their fullest expression."
--Ronald G. Ross, Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC
Executive Editor, DataToKnowledge Newsletter

The way we build computer applications is about to change dramatically, thanks to a new development technology known as business rules. The key idea behind the technology is that we can build applications declaratively instead of procedurally--that is, we can simply state WHAT needs to be done instead of HOW to do what needs to be done. The advantages are obvious: ease and rapidity of initial development and subsequent maintenance, hardware and software platform independence, overall productivity, business adaptivity, and more.

What Not How: The Business Rules Approach to Application Development is a concise and accessible introduction to this new technology. It is written for both managers and technical professionals. The book consists of two parts: Part I presents a broad overview of what business rules are all about; Part II then revisits the ideas in Part I and shows how they fit squarely into the solid tradition of relational technology. Topics covered include:

  • Presentation rules
  • Database and application rules
  • Building on the data model
  • Potential advantages and disadvantages
  • A new look at relational fundamentals
  • Business rules and the relational model

Overall, the book provides a good grounding in an important new technology, one poised to transform the way we do business in the IT world.


About the Author

C. J. Date is an independent author, lecturer, researcher, and consultant specializing in relational database systems, a field he helped pioneer. Among other projects, he was involved in technical planning for the IBM products SQL/DS and DB2. He is best known for his books, in particular, An Introduction to Database Systems (7th edition, Addison-Wesley, 2000), the standard text in the field, which has sold well over half a million copies worldwide. Mr. Date is widely acknowledged for his ability to explain complex technical material in a clear and understandable fashion.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard VINE VOICE on 30 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
At first I was pleased with this Book, but as I progressed through the Chapters I got progressively more disappointed. In conclusion, I think the comments on the back page say it all "provides a good grounding" - I'd rate it 'average to good' - but certainly not 'excellent'.
What lets it down are the pitiful worked examples. They are key to explaining the concepts, but the choices are terrible. They focus on Inventory Control, but I wonder if the author has ever done any real analysis in this arena?
In Chapter 4 a few examples are introduced, that reappear throughout the book, for example :
(a) "Suppliers S1 and S4 are always in the same City" - and this is reaffirmed as 'being not all unrealistic'
(b) "Suppliers in Athens can move only to London or Paris"
(c) "Average shipment quantities never decrease"
but in my 25 years experience in systems design I could never imagine these rules as being acceptable in their own right, never mind as 'classics' to be used in training/education?
When one finds poor examples like this, it always make me wonder whether there's other topics in the book that in my naivety I am accepting hook, line & sinker, and others readers more familiar than me would similarly find to be in error? I suppose I'll never know. So I still need to read further about the topic in case I've been misinformed; so if you're going to buy one book about business rules - then this isn't the one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ashraf Murtada on 11 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
With this short, mostly non-technical, book Date tries to show that the essence of the business rules approach is that of "declarativeness". He also strives to uncover many of the shortcomings of current SQL products and shows that the business rules approach is no more than an evolutionary step in terms of fully harnessing the potential of the relational model.
The writing style is not that of Date's best, but the book is mainly meant to be non-technical and brief. The important thing is the message the book is trying to deliver. The book is by no means a thorough treatment of the subject and it is not meant to be so.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Not revolutionary, not new, not a book---but praised as such 15 May 2000
By Hans Argenton - Published on
Format: Paperback
Chris Date wrote this book to explain "what this new technology called business rules is all about". In fact, this book is not a book---it is the augmented script of a live presentation printed in big letters---, and the technology is not new: It is declarative programming for data repositories. Nevertheless, Date aims at the widest possible audience, and so this manager's guide (as he calls it) would be a good thing were it not so absolutely black-and-white painted: Procedural code is bad, declarative code is good---being true, this is not new and not without its own problems.
Rules are certainly a very good idea for data-centered business applications with the traditional short transactions and hence short and isolated operations on that data; however, with an increasing number of rules, their semantics as a whole becomes more and more difficult, and for recursive rules with negation, you have to choose the one you like from several possibilities. So, even declarative semantics can be very hard to understand. There is a saying from the field of knowledge-engineering: "Rules are the assembly language of AI".
And that's exactly why I am so critical of that book (and give it two stars only): It makes the impression that 2 to 4 simple If-then rules are enough to capture the semantics of complex business applications. Furthermore, Date states that he is actually talking about system development! Remember the Prolog logic programing language? Not quite declarative and yet good mainly for rapid prototyping.
I admire Date's Relational Database Writings and his Introduction to Database Systems very much---each earns 5 stars in my opinion---; so I am the more disappointed that he published such a booklet, which is much too simplistic in its reasoning. We had declarative programming and deductive databases 10 years ago; unfortunately, they did not prevail. Maybe, this is Chris Date's way to give these ideas a new chance.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Yes, I agree. Now what? 5 April 2001
By Robert Barnes - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this short (about 120 pages) book, Date makes a persuasive case that the future of programming is in rule-based programming. If, instead of writing procedural code, we simply described the business rules of our data model and the development system then determined when to apply the rules, and how to do so efficiently, we could achieve an order-of-magnitude increase in development productivity.
I enjoyed reading this book (it didn't take long), but I found myself thinking "Yes, I agree totally, now what?" I am not sure who the book is aimed at. Is it aimed at software vendors such as IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft, to suggest the kind of tools that they should be offering the rest of us, or is it aimed at people like me, involved in developing systems within a typical commercial environment? If the latter, then beyond emphasizing that we should strive to put as much as possible in our data model (for example, creating a view instead of accessing a base table filtered by a WHERE clause), it's not clear what we should do to follow Date's advice. How should my development practices change as a result of reading this book? I don't know.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Inadequate new value for the reader. 28 Nov 2001
By Larry R - Published on
Format: Paperback
To me the content of this book is not more than I would expect in a magazine article or something from an op-ed page. As with anything from Chris Date, it seems to mostly be pointing out how miserably the "relational" database vendors have implemented the One True relational model introduced by Codd and championed by Date. Beyond that, it makes the point that "business rules", the semantic layer typically bolted ad hoc onto a "relational" database with triggers and "application" layers, are better enforced as some sort of constraints expressed as part of a more formal "data model" of the database.
Beyond that the book does not seem to say much, and I do not see that it offers the reader anything more than opinions. I personally agree that "relational" databases like Oracle, DB2, SQLServer, PostgreSQL, etc., do not really provide a "relational" database in the sense that Chris Date thinks of "relational", and I agree that it would be better to shift some "business rule" enforcement towards the database. But I do not think these things are likely to happen as described in this book anytime soon, and in any case I do not think this book offers anything to current or future users of any databases which is not offered much better by other books.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Eliminate the Coding! 15 May 2000
By Paul Vernon - Published on
Format: Paperback
You're in IT, your looking for a way forward and OO just doesn't do it for you. You need this book. The revolution's here, the king is dead, the future is relational. Sorry for the hyperbole. I'm biased. I'm a big Date fan. But I've been around a bit (if not as long as Date) and only this hits my buttons. I mean even the net didn't prickle me the way this does.
OK, the review. Well the book is short, but it's fantastic presentation material. E.g. the fig on page 52 should be all you need for CEO buy in. For depth you need to look at Date's other books (and read between the lines somewhat). Does it work as an intro to the subject? I'm pretty sure it does, but I'm too familiar with the area to really know.
Being critical, I'ld say he does pull his punches somewhat. It maybe his style, but relegating his dismissal of the Object world to one footnote and half a page is somewhat unsatisfactory. Come on Chris, be shriller! Also the proper scope of the subject is neglected. Contrary to appearances, programmers will not be redundant, they're just released writing from tedious code. Cool code will still be needed to implement new datatypes and new functions. Also many apps like spreadsheets (one big non-scalar datatype?) and games will not ever be declarative. But, for me I'm sold. I can easily see a order of magnitude productivity gain possible if we'd used this approach (and if the tools were there) in my present B2B work. For many, I suspect the lack of implementation detail or advice on doing business rules will frustrate. It's not a how-to book, but an appendix of links to business rules sites should have been included.
In Summary, a defining book, but the reader needs to buy into the relational vision and will need to look elsewhere for advice on implementing the vision.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
No value for money 14 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book seemed to be interesting when I glanced through it in the IT-bookstore. I also thought that it would have it's "message" in a very compact and intense form, since it's fairly short book.
Well, first of all the book's layout seems to support my feeling of rip-off; the page margins are huge, font is big, and everything seems to echo the fact that they wanted to artificially lengthen the book.
And the content isn't in a terse format, but more like keeps saying the same things again and again, stuffed with some quotes from other authors who seem to support his theories. He even interprets one of the quotes, so that it fits his theory!
Also what irritates is his "Tutorial D" language, which he uses to illustrate his point. To justify a use of a language that is not familiar to anybody, would require more in-depth academical study of the subject.
In short: Mr. Date seems to found something that he values greatly, and what he thinks will revolutionize the software development in future. If he's on to something, he doesn't communicate it in a very clear way.
Damn. That was like throwing my money away.
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