Browse Prior Art Database

Graphical Depiction of Database Table and View Relationships

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000112744D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-27
Document File: 4 page(s) / 165K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Shrader, TJ: AUTHOR

Abstract

Disclosed is a design on how to depict the relationships between tables and views in a graphical user interface. Most user interfaces depicting the schema of a database present a list of view and table objects in the database without showing the user how these objects interrelate. This disclosure presents a graphical design, and it also provides a methodology for allowing the user to create and delete relationship links between two objects in a database.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 34% of the total text.

Graphical Depiction of Database Table and View Relationships

      Disclosed is a design on how to depict the relationships
between tables and views in a graphical user interface.  Most user
interfaces depicting the schema of a database present a list of view
and table objects in the database without showing the user how these
objects interrelate.  This disclosure presents a graphical design,
and it also provides a methodology for allowing the user to create
and delete relationship links between two objects in a database.

Overview - A database schema consists of view and table objects.
Views are logical tables; thus they will always be dependent on a
table at the end of their dependency chain.  Views can also be
dependent on other views, but, eventually, their "parent" views will
be dependent on a table.

      Tables have different dependency relationships.  A table's
foreign key(s) tell the database where the dependencies are.  (The
foreign key defines the columns in the dependent table that must
correspond to values in the primary key of the parent table.)  A
table can be dependent on one or more tables at a time.  It can also
exist as a "standalone" table with no foreign keys (dependencies).

      In the graphical user interface design, view and table icons
are represented differently and they could be further distinguished
by giving the two icons different colors.  (For example, table icons
could be represented as square, three-dimensional tables and views as
round, three-dimensional tables.)  The arrows between the objects
represent relationships with the head of the arrow pointing to the
parent and the tail of the arrow emanating from the dependent.
Double clicking on an arrow brings up a dialog box containing
information on the dependency, such as the view definition or the
pertinent foreign key definition.  If a table has more than one
foreign key to the same parent table, the dialog box will provide
scrollable information on the foreign keys.  Alternatively, the
interface could provide a list of the foreign keys, and the user
could choose the appropriate one to view.  The width of the
dependency arrows could also be widened to indicate that more than
one dependency exists.

Creating and Deleting Relationship Links - Rather than allow only a
static view of the relationships or force the user to modify the
relationships by physically opening a particular object icon, the
interface can take advantage of the graphical relationship links and
allow the user to directly manipulate them.  However, whether the
user is creating or deleting links, certain rules would need to be
followed depending on the objects at the ends of the link.
(Modifying a link can be thought of as deleting an existing one and
then creating a new one.)

      To create a link, the user could "draw" an arrow from one icon
to another by pressing the mouse button when the mouse pointer is on
the dependent icon and dragging the mouse pointer...