Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Strategies for handling Business Entity data input, and storage

I'm working in a front to back prototype of the Sinergia Project and I must make a decision on the way the main entity (the ticket/case/claim, from now on the case)is going to be populated and persisted.

The problem

Data corresponding to the case has to be gathered from the UI, processed, and stored in the database. The data structure of this entity is unknown or at least partially known, since some fields are fixed, but depending on something I'm calling the case type which has metadata on the case, other fields may appear.

The alternatives

The way I see it possible options can be grouped in the following categories:
  1. Structured, strong typed, code generation based. Based on the case metadata residing in the case type I generate code, corresponding to: Business Entity datatype class, Database table create script (and execute it), and ASP.NET user control. Generation could take place right after metadata is declared/created.
  2. Unstructured, loosely typed, totally dynamic.. The case metadata is interpreted at runtime to create dynamically ASP.NET controls for the whole entity, load the entered data into an xml instance, and insert the xml into one table in the database, which has a text column to store the xml.
  3. Semistructured. This one is a mix of the former two. Based on the metadata code is generated for the ASP.NET user control, while the business entity common data is stored in properties, the non common data is stored in an xml type property (so the same class is used for all types of cases), and one text column is added to the Cases table in the database to store all the non common case fields.

After doing some thinking I started to implement the third, semistructured option. I guess the rationale for it would be something of the following form:

 Weight  Criteria  Structured  Semi Structured  Unstructured
10  Productivity 1 3 3
10  Performance 3 2 1
7 Maintainability 1 2 3
Totals 47 64 61

Monday, May 29, 2006


Sinergia is a free help desk framework licensed under the GPL license, and hosted on SourceForge.

This blog is where I plan to post news and comment on the design and development of the Sinergia Project.

I'd really like to get some feedback on the design decisions that will be discussed here, so please if you have any questions, ask them, I will gladly answer them.