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Interactive Schema Diagram to Visually Represent Tables of Related Data And Meaningful Joins Between Tables

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000119639D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-02
Document File: 4 page(s) / 181K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Burns, LM: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Disclosed is a non-procedural, graphical relational database interface. This interface uses the database schema graph as a top-level directory and access tool for manipulation of tables, attributes and relational joins. The schema graph is not a static picture presented simply for information or documentation; rather, it is an active utility for facilitating interaction between the user and the database.

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Interactive Schema Diagram to Visually Represent Tables of Related
Data And Meaningful Joins Between Tables

      Disclosed is a non-procedural, graphical relational
database interface.  This interface uses the database schema graph as
a top-level directory and access tool for manipulation of tables,
attributes and relational joins.  The schema graph is not a static
picture presented simply for information or documentation;  rather,
it is an active utility for facilitating interaction between the user
and the database.

      Database management systems typically require users to be
familiar with the structure of the database and to be facile with a
formal syntax for interacting with it. Schema diagrams for database
understanding are commonplace;  often users will have a pen and paper
version on hand when working with a database or will scribble
informal diagrams during problem solving sessions (1).  By providing
a tailorable schema graph, the "gulf of execution" (2) is narrowed,
placing the user's interaction with the database in closer proximity
to his initial intentions and conceptualization. The schema is
represented by a directed graph S=(V,E), where V is the set of
vertices representing relational tables and E is a set of edges
representing meaningful joins between the tables.  Fig. 1 shows a
schema graph.  Rectangles represent the tables and lines represent
possible relational joins. Visual depiction of the tables and some of
the possible joins between them, as opposed to a textual description
of the database structure, assist the user in mapping between his
work domain and the database representation of that domain;  it also
serves as a global focus from which query, data entry, browsing and
other activities may be initiated.

      The Schema interface has a strong object-action orientation,
the approach widely used and recommended in the CUA guidelines (3).
In object-action interfaces, the user typically performs a task by
selecting one or more objects and then selecting an action from an
action bar.  In the Schema tool, only one item per window may be
selected as the current object at any given time;  selection of a new
object automatically cancels the previous selection in that window.
The current object is visually distinguished by a bold border.  In
Fig. 1, 'Grade' is the current object.

      The Schema facility allows the user to work with a previously
saved schema or to create a new one.  To build a schema, the Select
Tables option is chosen from the Data pulldown menu;  a panel appears
displaying a list of table names and locations from which the user
may select the tables of interest.  Because the relational data model
does not explicitly store the relationships between tables, the
system attempts to determine what the implicit relationships are.  In
the initial, system-generated schema graph, the connection of two
tables by a joining edge is determined based on common column names
and key c...