30 October 2012

Programming: Framework (Definitions)

"Unifying, guiding architectural approach, as in the data warehouse bus architecture." (Ralph Kimball & Margy Ross, "The Data Warehouse Toolkit" 2nd Ed., 2002)

"A collection of classes, functions, protocols, documentation, and header files and other resources that are all related." (Stephen G Kochan, "Programming in Objective-C", 2003)

"A set of collaborating abstract and concrete classes that may be used as a template to solve a related family of problems. It is usually extended via subclassing for application-specific behavior." (Craig Larman, "Applying UML and Patterns", 2004)

"A coherent architecture that provides an incomplete template for systems within a specific domain; a coherent set of design patterns." (Bruce P Douglass, "Real-Time Agility", 2009)

"A support structure for developing software products." (Judith Hurwitz et al, "Service Oriented Architecture For Dummies" 2nd Ed., 2009)

"1.Generally, a basic skeletal structure. 2.Conceptually, a classification scheme used to better understand a topic; a defined and documented paradigm, used as a lens to view a complex problem. 3.In software development, a reusable object-oriented design, including a library of reusable classes and other components, along with standards for designing additional components and how they interact." (DAMA International, "The DAMA Dictionary of Data Management", 2011)

"A support structure for developing and managing software products." (Marcia Kaufman et al, "Big Data For Dummies", 2013)

"A structure for supporting something else." ( Manish Agrawal, "Information Security and IT Risk Management", 2014)

"A support structure for developing and managing software." (Judith S Hurwitz, "Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics", 2015)

"A conceptual set of rules and ideas that provide structure to a complex and challenging situation." (Weiss, "Auditing IT Infrastructures for Compliance" 2nd Ed., 2015)

"A framework is a set of concepts that provide the basic structure for understanding a domain, enabling a common vocabulary for different explanatory theories." (Robert J Glushko, "The Discipline of Organizing: Professional Edition" 4th Ed., 2016)

25 October 2012

Programming: Assertion (Definitions)

"A constraint that is not attached to a table but is instead a distinct database object. It can therefore be used to enforce rules that apply to multiple tables or to verify that tables are not empty." (Jan L Harrington, "SQL Clearly Explained" 3rd Ed., 2010)

"A declaration or statement, often without support." (Janice M Roehl-Anderson, "IT Best Practices for Financial Managers", 2010)

"A statement about a program that the code claims to be true." (Rod Stephens, "Start Here!™ Fundamentals of Microsoft® .NET Programming", 2011)

"A statement that the code claims is true. If the statement is false, the program stops running so you can decide whether a bug occurred." (Rod Stephens, "Stephens' Visual Basic® Programming 24-Hour Trainer", 2011)

"A component of a regular expression that must be true for the pattern to match but does not necessarily match any characters itself. Often used specifically to mean a zero-width assertion." (Jon Orwant et al, "Programming Perl" 4th Ed., 2012)

"A statement about the program and its data that is supposed to be true. If the statement isn’t true, the assertion throws an exception to tell you that something is wrong." (Rod Stephens, "Beginning Software Engineering", 2015)

"A language feature used to test for conditions that should be guaranteed by program logic. If a condition checked by an assertion is found to be false, a fatal error is thrown. For added performance, assertions can be disabled when an application is deployed." (Daniel Leuck et al, "Learning Java" 5th Ed., 2020)

"A way of ensuring that a method has access to a particular resource, even if the method's callers do not have the required permission. During a stack walk, if a stack frame asserting the required permission is encountered, a security check for that permission will succeed without proceeding further. To perform an assertion of a permission, code must not only have that permission, but also be granted the SecurityPermission.Assertion permission. Unwise use of assertions can create security holes, so they should be used only with the utmost caution." (Damien Watkins et al, "Programming in the .NET Environment", 2002)

24 October 2012

Programming: Assembly (Definitions)

"An assembly is the unit of deployment and versioning in the .NET Framework. An assembly contains a manifest, metadata, MSIL, and possibly binary resources. Most assemblies are single files, but an assembly can consist of multiple files, such as DLLs, picture files, and even HTML files." (Adam Nathan, ".NET and COM: The Complete Interoperability Guide", 2002)

"The unit of deployment and versioning in the .NET Framework. It establishes the namespace for resolving requests for types and determines which types and resources are exposed externally and which are accessible only from within the assembly. An assembly includes an assembly manifest that describes the assembly's contents." (Damien Watkins et al, "Programming in the .NET Environment", 2002)

"A managed application module that contains class metadata and managed code as an object in SQL Server. By referencing an assembly, CLR functions, CLR stored procedures, CLR triggers, user-defined aggregates, and user-defined types can be created in SQL Server." (Thomas Moore, "MCTS 70-431: Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2005", 2006)

"A managed application module, composed of class metadata and managed code, that can be embedded in a database solution as a database object in SQL Server 2005." (Marilyn Miller-White et al, "MCITP Administrator: Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2005 Optimization and Maintenance 70-444", 2007)

"Application logic that is stored in, and managed by, the SQL Server database server, including objects like triggers, CLR software, and stored procedures. Assemblies are written in a .NET language, such a C# or Visual Basic." (Robert D. Schneider and Darril Gibson, "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies", 2008)

"In SQL Server, a .NET assembly is a compiled SQL CLR executable or DLL." (Michael Coles, "Pro T-SQL 2008 Programmer's Guide", 2008)

"A managed application module that contains class metadata and managed code." (Jim Joseph et al, "Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2008 Reporting Services Unleashed", 2009)

"In .NET applications, the smallest self-contained unit of compiled code. An assembly can be a complete application, or a library that can be called by other applications." (Rod Stephens, "Start Here!™ Fundamentals of Microsoft® .NET Programming", 2011)

"The smallest independent unit of compiled code. Typically, this is a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) or executable program." (Rod Stephens, "Stephens' Visual Basic® Programming 24-Hour Trainer", 2011)

"A managed application module containing class metadata and managed code as an object in SQL Server, against which CLR functions, stored procedures, triggers, user-defined aggregates, and user-defined types can be created in SQL Server." (Microsoft, "SQL Server 2012 Glossary", 2012)

"In SQL Server, a .NET assembly is a compiled SQL CLR executable or DLL." (Jay Natarajan et al, "Pro T-SQL 2012 Programmer's Guide" 3rd Ed., 2012)

"The fundamental logical unit of managed code, consisting of one or more files containing Common Intermediate Language instructions and metadata. See also CIL." (Mark Rhodes-Ousley, "Information Security: The Complete Reference" 2nd Ed., 2013)

23 October 2012

Programming: Array (Definitions)

"A group of cells arranged by dimensions. A table is a two-dimensional array in which the cells are arranged in rows and columns, with one dimension forming the rows and the other dimension forming the columns. A cube is a three-dimensional array and can be visualized as a cube, with each dimension of the array forming one edge of the cube." (Microsoft Corporation, "Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Data Warehouse Training Kit", 2000)

"A collection of objects all of the same type." (Jesse Liberty, "Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 24 Hours" 3rd Ed., 2001)

"A list of variables that have the same name and data type." (Greg Perry, "Sams Teach Yourself Beginning Programming in 24 Hours" 2nd Ed., 2001)

"Values whose members, called elements, are accessed by an index rather than by name. An array has a rank that specifies the number of indices needed to locate an element (sometimes called the number of dimensions) within the array. It may have either zero or nonzero lower bounds in each dimension." (Damien Watkins et al, "Programming in the .NET Environment", 2002)

"A collection of data items, all of the same type, in which each item is uniquely addressed by a 32-bit integer index. Java arrays behave like objects but have some special syntax. Java arrays begin with the index value 0." (Marcus Green & Bill Brogden, "Java 2™ Programmer Exam Cram™ 2 (Exam CX-310-035)", 2003)

"A device that aggregates large collections of hard drives into a logical whole." (Tom Petrocelli, "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management", 2005)

"An arithmetically derived matrix or table of rows and columns that is used to impose an order for efficient experimentation. The rows contain the individual experiments. The columns contain the experimental factors and their individual levels or set points." (Clyde M Creveling, "Six Sigma for Technical Processes: An Overview for R Executives, Technical Leaders, and Engineering Managers", 2006)

"A data structure containing an ordered list of elements—any Ruby object—starting with an index of 0." (Michael Fitzgerald, "Learning Ruby", 2007)

"An arithmetically derived matrix or table of rows and columns that is used to impose an order for efficient experimentation. The rows contain the individual experiments. The columns contain the experimental factors and their individual levels or set points." (Lynne Hambleton, "Treasure Chest of Six Sigma Growth Methods, Tools, and Best Practices", 2007)

"In a SQL database, an ordered collection of elements of the same data type stored in a single column and row of a table." (Jan L Harrington, "SQL Clearly Explained" 3rd Ed., 2010)

"A group of values stored together in a single variable and accessed by index." (Rod Stephens, "Stephens' Visual Basic® Programming 24-Hour Trainer", 2011)

"A grouping of similar items of the same storage type in a sequential pattern, and referenced by a sequential index value." (DAMA International, "The DAMA Dictionary of Data Management", 2011)

"A variable that holds a series of values with the same data type. An index into the array lets the program select a particular value." (Rod Stephens, "Start Here!™ Fundamentals of Microsoft® .NET Programming", 2011)

"An ordered collection of values. Arrays can be defined as a basic Objective-C type and are implemented as objects under Foundation through the NSArray, and NSMutableArray classes." (Stephen G Kochan, "Programming in Objective-C" 4th Ed., 2011)

"A basic collection of values that is a sequence represented by a single block of memory. Arrays have efficient direct access, but do not easily grow or shrink." (Mark C Lewis, "Introduction to the Art of Programming Using Scala", 2012)

"An ordered sequence of values, stored such that you can easily access any of the values using an integer subscript that specifies the value’s offset in the sequence." (Jon Orwant et al, "Programming Perl" 4th Ed., 2012)

"A group of variables stored under a single name." (Matt Telles, "Beginning Programming", 2014)

"A structure composed of multiple identical variables that can be individually addressed." (Sybase, "Open Server Server-Library/C Reference Manual", 2019)

"A structure that contains an ordered collection of elements of the same data type in which each element can be referenced by its index value or ordinal position in the collection. See also element, ordinary array." (Sybase, "Open Server Server-Library/C Reference Manual", 2019)

"An array is a data structure where elements are associated with an index. They are implemented differently in different programming languages." (Alex Thomas, "Natural Language Processing with Spark NLP", 2020)

05 October 2012

Data Management: Business Rules – An Introduction

    "Business rules" seems to be a recurring theme these days – developers, DBAs, architects, business analysts, IT and non-IT professionals talk about the necessity to enforce them in data and semantic models, information systems, processes, departments or whole organizations. They seem to affect the important layers of an organization. In fact the same business rule can affect multiple levels either directly, or indirectly through the hierarchical or networked structure of causality it belongs to. When considered all the business rules, the overall picture can become very complex. The fact that there are multiple levels of interconnected layers, with applications and implications at macro or micro level, makes the complexity to fight back because in order to solve business-specific problems often you have to go at least one level above the level where the problems were defined, or to simplify the problems to a level of detail that allows to tackled.

    The Business Rules Group defines a business rule as "a statement that defines or constrains some aspect of the business" [1], definition which seems to be closer to the vocabulary of IT people. Ronald G. Ross, in his book Principles of the Business Rule Approach, defines it as "a directive intended to influence or guide business behavior" [2], definition closer to the vocabulary of HR people. In fact the two definitions are kind of similar, highlighting the constrictor or guiding role of business rules. They raise also an important question – can everything that is catalogued as constraint or guidelines considered as a business rule? In theory yes, practically there are constraints and guidelines that have different impact on the business, so depending on context they need to be considered or not. What to consider is itself an art, which adds up to the art of problem solving.

    Besides identification, neither the definition nor management of business rules seems easy tasks. R.G. Ross considers that business rules need to be written and made explicit, expressed in plain language, independent of procedures and workflows, built on facts, motivated by identifiable and important business factors, accessible to authorized parties, specific, single sourced, managed, specified by those people who have relevant knowledge, and they should guide or influence behavior in desired ways [2]. This summarizes the various aspects that need to be considered when defining and managing business rules. Many organization seems to be challenged by this, and it can be challenging when lacks business management maturity.

    Many business rules exist already in functional and technical specifications written for the various software products built on request, in documentation of purchases software, in processes, procedures, standards, internal defined and external enforced policies, in the daily activities and knowledge exchanged or hold by workers. Sure, the formulations existing in such resources need to be enhanced and aggregated in order to be brought at the status of business rule. And here comes the difficulty, as iterative work needs to be performed in order to bring them to the level indicated by R.G Ross. For sure Ross’ specifications are idealistic, though they offer a “framework” for defining business rules. In what concerns their management, there is a lot to be done within an organization, as this aspect needs to be integrated with other activities and strategies existing in an organization.

    Often, when an important initiative, better said project, starts within an organization, then is felt in particular the lack of up-front defined and understood business rules. Such events trigger the identification and elicitation of business rules; they are addressed in documentation and remain buried in there. It is also true that it’s difficult to build a business case for further processing of business rules. An argument could be the costs associated from decisional mistakes taken by not knowing the existing rules, though that’s something difficult to quantify and make visible in an organization. In the end, most probably an organization will recognize the value of business rules when it reached a certain level of maturity.

References:
[1] Business Rules Group (2000) Defining Business Rules - What Are They Really? [Online] Available from: http://businessrulesgroup.org/first_paper/BRG-whatisBR_3ed.pdf
[2] Ronald G. Ross (2003) Principles of the Business Rule Approach. Addison Wesley. ISBN: 0-201-78893-4.
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