|At the VCAPS
project we found ourselves faced with the problem of XP and a large
database. Our database was Object Oriented, but a relational database
could be handled the same way. Remember that if you implement user
stories customer value first your database tables and normalization
will become stable faster.
key point is taking the advice of Kent Beck, act as if the database is
easy to change. Relational databases were created to be flexible, so
flex them. Kent also advises that when something is very difficult try
doing it more often not less. That way you get good at doing it and it
won't be hard any longer. Get into the habit of migrating your database
often, you will make less mistakes not more.
VCAPS solution was to have a gold, a silver, and many bronze database
versions. The gold is the one that resembles the production database.
The silver is a migrated gold database. Each developer has a bronze
database migrated from the silver.
bronze database becomes silver when the developer's code is released. A
silver database becomes gold when the production database is migrated.
is important that everyone can easily get a copy of the gold or silver
data base to use as a bronze quickly and that we keep track of
migration paths. Setting up scripts to copy databases as files is very
useful. You need one to make a copy of a bronze database promoting it
to silver, and one to restore the current silver to the local host,
which ever computer you are at.
database has the same set of test user ids and passwords. Developers
and database connections can use the same user ids on any of the
development pair will release newly developed code into the source code
safe, promote their bronze database to silver, and add a migration
script to a list. How you manage the list of migrations will depend on
your data base software and how you access it. This list of scripts can
then be executed in sequence to migrate the production database when
is released to production. Independence from the application code is
important since it can change causing the migration script fail. Use an
station to control the sequence of changes.
any moment in time the new silver database and the currently released
code version are exactly in sync. This is important and requires
discipline to maintain.
any moment in time the gold database and the production release match
up for production support. At any moment it time the data base
migration scripts and the most current development release match up
ready to be released.
can integrate often because it is easy to copy the silver database and
check out the current released code at the same time. The unit tests
will run at 100%. Developers then add their own changes, perform any
database migration, and integrate until the unit tests are running at
100% again. This method is very fast and only takes a couple minutes.
support testing we had a script to create a new gold database with a
predefined set of test data. Some data will be created by tests, but
providing an example in the database helps developers create reliable
migration scripts. We found it useful to create a new gold and migrate
it to silver once a week to avoid the inevitable data corruption and to
assure ourselves that our migration scripts were correct.
did have an occasional problem with migration. We didn't do as good a
job of keeping track of changes as we should have. What we ended up
doing near the end was to formulate our migrations as executable
methods on a DB maintenance object. This makes the production migration
more reliable and a non-event.