on 17 September 2012
I started using PowerDesigner without any formal training, just many years of using all sorts other modeling tools. Although the basics were pretty easy to learn I was not really able to use many of the powerful features. I then bought this book and that helped me to really get going. This is the type of user manual that you would like to get with a modeling tool. It also provides you with the basics of Data Modeling, even if you think you are an expert modeler it helps to have the book explain how the basics fit together. I would have liked more on how to organize all your models in PowerDesigner but perhaps that is another book. If you are looking for a book to help you get going in PowerDesigner this is the book I would recommend. Well worth the money.
on 3 July 2012
Having used Power Designer for over 10 years in many environments I was a little dubious about this book.
1. Would it cater for the zealous user?
2. I felt dread at how tediously boring a book on Power Designer data modeling could be :)
Boy, was I wrong! "Data Modeling Made Simple with PowerDesigner" is a book that should be in the library of all Power Designer Data Modelers. It will certainly have a place on my desk! The authors, Steve Hoberman and George McGeachie
have left no stone unturned and this is coupled with humourous anecdotes throughout the book which liven up what could be a very drab read. Who would have thought that modeling icecream could be so much fun!
The book is divided up into a number of sections, the first of which introduces the concept of a data model and its role in the organisation. The focus is on communication between functional groups and the presentation of a data model which
provides semantic interoperability and mutual understanding of common perspectives at different levels of detail.
The second section of the book looks at the various components of a data model, explaining the terms entity, attributes/data elements, domains, conceptual -> logical -> physical models, business rules and relationships. If I had one quibble, the authors might have stuck with the Power Designer terminology for these sections, as the book is inherently "Data Modeling with PowerDesigner". For example, the word "attribute" should have been used instead of "data element" as that is the term used in the Sybase application. Even in the Power Designer specific portion of the book, "Data Elements" is used in the text, however, accompanying screenshots use "Entity Attribute". Chapter 5 talks about "Data Elements", Chapter 6 "Data Attributes" and Chapter 7 is back to "Data Elements". A further example, with the use of the term "subtypes" when Sybase use "Inheritence Links". In my opinion it would be more appropriate to use consistent terminology throughout the book from the outset.
Chapter 6 offers a comprehensive discussion on how critical it is to provide meaningful names and definitions in your data model and naming conventions.
Section 3 delves into the nitty gritty on Power Designer. Chapter 8 answers that question that data modelers often hear - "But why do we need to spend money on a data modeling tool, can't you just use xyz". The chapter categorises the features provided by Power Designer into Core Modeling, Usability, Interfaces and Integration, Top Management and Communication and Collaboration. This chapter is very well laid out.
Chapter 9 looks at "meta data scope" in Power Designer and denotes that Power Designer provides a single modeling environment in the organisation. It is widely agreed that the alignment of process, technology and data is key to any organisation and PowerDesigner makes this so simple by provision of multiple model types and ability to map between them. A high level description of the main features of PowerDesigner is given.
Chapter 10 and 11 and 12 are very helpful for anyone starting out with Power Designer. It goes painstakingly through the Power Designer interface and describes how it can be adapted to suit the user's needs. The interface can be daunting for a newbie and it is noted that a number of Power Designer complexities are clearly outlined upfront, for example, docking selectors and grouping views together. It is very apparent that Steve Hoberman and George McGeachie are well versed in PowerDesigner best practices as they explain what REALLY matters upfront and do not overcomplicate things. There is discussion on "rerouting symbols manually" which I often battle with when designing a large functional area in a data model. The book is also up-to-date as it covers the new glossary auto-complete functionality which was delivered in version 16 of PowerDesigner. Another example is the discussion of the resolution of many to many relationships and the impact that "Allow n-n relationships" has on it. The author also presents gotchas which can cause big headaches such as "Delete Symmbols Only" when removing objects from diagram and saving strategies which I found very comprehensive.
Chapter 15, 16, 17 are well thought out. I have worked in several companies where they do not seem to understand the difference between a conceptual, logical and physical data model. In these organisations the conceptual model usually matches the physical model entity for entity and attribute for attribute. The only difference being the lack of foreign keys and obviously the database specific physical options. These conceptual models usually cost companies a lot of money, however, they are normally ditched before the end of a project as teams realise that the effort is not worth while. The three chapters describing exactly what the purpose of each model and the generation links between then are fabulously written. I learnt a lot in these chapters.
This book is of interest to newbies and seasoned Data Modelers.