Browse Prior Art Database

Visual Representation of Database Query Definition

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000119638D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-02
Document File: 5 page(s) / 199K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Burns, LM: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Disclosed is an interactive, non-procedural interface for graphically formulating relational database queries. This interface uses a database schema graph as the focus for defining a query. This graph is built up and saved using the sister tool, Schema (see the following article). Using the graph as a guide, query formulation occurs by selection of a query path(s) through the graph, specification of selection constraints, and operations on intermediate and resulting table intensions.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 42% of the total text.

Visual Representation of Database Query Definition

      Disclosed is an interactive, non-procedural interface for
graphically formulating relational database queries.  This interface
uses a database schema graph as the focus for defining a query.  This
graph is built up and saved using the sister tool, Schema (see the
following article).  Using the graph as a guide, query formulation
occurs by selection of a query path(s) through the graph,
specification of selection constraints, and operations on
intermediate and resulting table intensions.

      Graphical query definition begins by displaying a saved Schema;
this is accomplished through a Data pulldown menu option.  The reader
should refer to the following article for a complete description of
the Schema utility.  Many of the options available when defining a
schema are also available in the graphical query object window; for
example, View and Definition pulldown options, such as zooming,
showing detail on tables and links, invocation of the graph layout
algorithm, and link definition.  Descriptions of these common options
will not be repeated in this article. More detail on schema graph
characteristics can also be found in the following article.
Likewise, the File menu (used for saving a query, opening a saved
query, and creating a new query) and the Edit menu options are
standard pulldown menus used in all using system tools.

      Fig. 1 shows a graphical query window with its focus on a saved
schema.  Rectangles represent the tables and lines represent possible
relational joins between those tables. Visual depiction of the tables
and the possible joins between them, as opposed to a textual
description of the database, serves as a template to guide the user
in formulating his or her query.

      The Graphical Query interface has a strong object-action
orientation, the approach widely used and recommended in the CUA
guidelines (1).  As in the Schema utility, only one item window may
be selected as the current object at any given time.  The current
object is visually distinguished by a bold border.  In Fig. 1, the
'student' table is the current object.  The following Schema article
more fully describes the object-action paradigm and 'current object'
concepts as they apply to the Schema and Graphical Query tools.
      Query formulation is made up of three components:
      1.   Navigation path selection - choosing the pertinent
           tables and joins
      2.   Selection constraint specification
      3.   Selection of output columns for resulting table

      Traditional text-oriented query languages require users to know
a formal syntax for specifying each of the sub-parts of query
requests.  The disclosed graphical approach relieves the user of this
burden by guiding him to visually formulate the query; the system
then maps his high-level requests to the required syntax.  The
Definition and Operations pulldow...