Feature Set of an Integrated-Documentation Tool
Now that you know the advantages of integrated documentation, let's examine what exactly the integrated-documentation tool can do for you. Essentially, the tool can help you in two main ways:
|Figure 1. Main Page of a Dictionary for a Sample Oracle Database: The main page shows the names of all the tables in the database schema with useful information such as the number of records, last date analyzed, etc.|
- Providing a browsable, easy-to-navigate dictionary of the database: This can help you get a feel for the usage of tables and their columns.
- Providing a template for viewing and inserting comments in all the tables and columns in the database
Figure 1 shows the main page of a dictionary for a sample Oracle database. This page contains all the basic information about the database, including all the table names and some useful stats about them. The stats give the user a quick feel for the database by revealing how many tables are in the database and how many records exist in each table. Other useful information such as the average row length, the date each table was last analyzed, and whether or not it is backed up are also displayed on the page.
Also notice on this page the hype-link "View Template To Modify Schema Documentation." This link will lead you to a page with all the existing table and column comments laid out in an easy format, which you can use as templates for comment insertion (see Figure 2). These templates allow the developer to easily and conveniently use the internal system tables of the Oracle database to store comments about the tables and their columns. Because all the tables and columns have a statement, it becomes less likely that anything will be missed when commenting the database.
Figure 2. The Comment Template Page: The comment template page provides an easy and convenient way to change the comments on the tables and their columns by giving you the relevant SQL statements for all the table and column names.
Figure 3. Table Column Overview: The table column overview page provides useful information such as the data types, number of null and distinct entries, etc. about the columns of a specific table.
For convenient navigation, the sidebar presents links to the first page and all the tables at all times. By clicking on one of the table names, you will navigate to the table column and index details for that table. Figure 3
shows an example of such a page. The information on this page includes the column names, their data types, the number of null and distinct entries, column comments, and so on. This information is particularly useful for getting a high-level understanding of the database fields and making preliminary judgments about whether or not the field is useful for further analysis. This page also displays any indexes the table columns have, which can be useful for gaining more insight into the designer's mind (and for tuning your database for performance).