BI4ALL-05 – New Documentation Technique For BI4ALL


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Hello and welcome to this blog post on how we are now documenting our BI4ALL Models . Thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog post!

First a little history. Back in the 00’s, when I was implementing the Sybase version of these sorts of models, they were much harder to understand. We used to plaster the walls with data model diagrams printed from PowerDesigner!

In 2002 I invented a technique which meant that those of us who were very experienced no longer needed pictures to understand the models. But those who were not very experienced still wanted pictures.

The late Sean Kelly (may he rest in peace) constantly asked me to try new ways of printing his version of the models. I tried numerous “data modeling” tools but the time and effort to maintain the models was very high. So we continued to use Excel to develop models and tell our customers “you don’t really need diagrams of these models to understand them.”

Well what do you know? All these years later I have stumbled across a great new way to document data models that is much faster and much easier than any of the data modeling tools I have ever seen.

So if you want to create better documentation of data models, especially Data Warehouse Data Models, you will want to read this blog post.

The way we have found is to use the Meta5 DBA tool to draw data model diagrams of the BI4ALL models. We then scale up the VM we are working on and take a screen shot of the data model.

Simply put, we develop our models in normal HD on a 1920×1080 screen on a VM running Windows. We then blow up the screen to UHD, resize the Meta5 desktop to fit the UHD screen size and take screen shots. This works even when the actual physical screen we are using is only 1920×1080.

Sure, we have to do a bit of scrolling around. But I believe you will see that the end result is worth the effort!

Not only can we draw these diagrams but we developed a way of updating the “User Business Names” and “User Help Descriptions” that are presented by the Meta5 DBA Tool directly from the BI4ALL Data Model Workbooks.

The images you see on the following pages are screen captured from the Meta5 DBA Tool. The BI users, when they use Meta5, will see the “User Business Names” that are presented on the following diagrams.

These “User Business Names” are text which is entered in to the BI4ALL Data Model Workbooks. The text can be anything that can go in to an Excel cell and can be up to 128 characters.

Special characters can also be used. For example “%” and “#” signs.

Further, the BI4ALL Models can be easily maintained in up to 10 languages for one data model. This feature has been included in the ability to build Meta5 dictionaries. So business users can be presented with screens that have their fields and their help text in their language.

In short, the data models that you see on the following pages could easily be maintained in up to 10 languages and presented to business users in up to 10 languages. This is particularly important in Europe where so many different languages are used in business.

We are very pleased to be able to develop data models of this detail and place them on a single “page” because this is helping us in our development work.

We would say, even if you do not wish to work with us to implement our BI4ALL models, you might want to use Meta5 and our BI4ALL Models workbooks so you too can develop data model diagrams like the ones you see on the following pages. The BI4ALL Model workbooks and functions come free with SeETL. The data models themselves are not free of course. We still sell them.

We are quite experts in many data modeling tools and we are well aware that it is very time consuming to maintain this level of documentation in one language let alone up to 10 languages.

If you would like to read the remainder of this blog post please click on the button below for the full PDF document.

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Best Regards


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Peter Nolan is one of the worlds leading thought leaders in Business Intelligence. Across his 29+ years in BI Peter has consistently invented new and innovative ways of designing and building data warehouses. SeETL now stands alone as the worlds most cost effective data warehouse development tool.


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