Re: Data Dictionary

Subject: Re: Data Dictionary
From: Anthony Markatos <tonymar -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 1998 14:27:20 PST


You have been asked to perform a very rigorous systems analysis. The
reason you did not find much in the archives is that very few technical
writers do this type of work. Indeed, most systems analysts go there
entire career without doing significant data dictionary work.

I recently created a data dictionary. The major task is to create very
clear and concise data flow diagrams and entity relationship diagrams.
The data dictionary rigorously defines the business terms used in these

If the software system is more function intensive (such as a inventory
control or accounting system) you will need to make heavy use of data
flow diagrams. If the software is more of a decision support system
(such as a database system that primarily serves to process user ad-hoc
queries) you will need to make extensive use of entity relationship
diagrams. Often you will need to utilize both techniques.
I myself favor data flow diagrams (maybe because the systems that I have
worked on are more function intensive). If I need to create entity
relationship diagrams, data flow diagrams are often my primary input.

KEY POINT: The primary purpose of a data dictionary is to define WHAT
the individual entries mean from a business perspective. They may also
define HOW each entry is to be implemented - such as format and data
type. But be aware that 98% of the required work is in nailing down the

Much of what I have stated above you can find in any college level text
on structured systems analysis and design (although I have slanted it
towards my experience "in the trenches"). The all-time classic is Tom
DeMarco's book (Yourdon press about 1975).

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)

>From techwr-l -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu Fri Apr 3 14:13:21 1998
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>Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 14:10:12 PST
>Reply-To: Michelle Nolan <nolanmj -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
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> <TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
>From: Michelle Nolan <nolanmj -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
>Subject: Data Dictionary
>Fellow Writers:
>I have been asked to write a data dictionary for an Oracle database,
>which uses MS Access as its front end application. I?ve never done
>before, and would appreciate any and all advice on data dictionaries
>(what is included, how to construct, etc.). What is involved and how
>can I come up to speed in a very short period of time?
>I have searched the archives, and while I have found a few articles
>mention DDs, I didn?t come up with any specifics.
>Thanks so much-
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