Red Book Solutions Success Story

Red Book Solutions produces many highly customized products for the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries. The Manager’s Red Book began as a simple communication tool and evolved into a performance playbook that gets your employees to live the standards you believe in. Today, 30 years since the company was founded, it has expanded its business and its data.

I'm happy to use Dataedo documentation, where I can use images and the links made by the tool you can use to move around the exported documentation. It is very helpful. Thanks to that, many of my colleagues can browse HTML export and learn about the database.
Jay Michael Heidbreder
Data Solutions Engineer
Red Book Solutions
Red Book Solutions, a HotSchedules company
www.redbooksolutions.com
Industry: Management Solutions
Location: Englewood, Colorado, United States

Data Catalog:
  • SQL Server database with over 500 tables as well as over 1,000 other objects such as stored procedures, views and functions
Challenges:
  • Only one person in the organization understood large legacy database completely; others knew some, but not all details of the structure
  • Documentation was 20 years old

Benefits:
  • Documentation of the database “in a fraction of the time expected.“
  • Sustainability of database development
  • Sharing of "tribal" knowledge
  • Improved efficiency of writing accurate code; central documentation

Challenge

Red Book is running a very large legacy database on MS SQL Server. After so many changes and additions within almost two decades, the team decided to create an ERD to learn more about the database itself. During those years, they have developed a dozen different tools and it became clear that it is very crucial to have a central location for documentation. The last ERD for this database was created in 2001, and since then, there have been made plenty of changes. Having only one or two people knowing how the entire structure works was not sustainable. The IT management team at Red Book Solutions decided to change that.

A Data Engineer was tasked to learn even more about the database and make it understandable for other developers. The database has over 500 tables, each with an average of 50 columns, and includes over 1,000 other objects such as views, functions, and stored procedures.

The first try was to use SQL Server Management Studio to make ERDs and export them as PDFs, but the live diagrams couldn’t be shared easily and PDF outputs were quickly outdated and un-readable.

Solution

First, after importing the database schema into Dataedo, the Data Solutions Engineer grouped objects into modules which reflected existing user interface modules. This made it easy for developers to understand the relations between tables with different names and columns.

The legacy database had few foreign key constraints to create diagrams—it was barely enough to define relationships as required (within Dataedo repository). To make this task manageable, Dataedo delivered a script that generates foreign keys based on the names of columns (editorial note: this functionality will make its way into the core product). The Red Book Solutions’ Engineer had to make slight adjustments to work with its database, and it made nearly 3000 connections all at once. Within a short period of time, the database was published to the IT team.

Dataedo’s team worked with me on their forum and via email and all their work made a huge difference with this project.
Jay Michael Heidbreder, Data Solutions Engineer, Red Book Solutions

Having the tool needed for this endeavor, this Red Book Solutions Data Engineer created a diagram for each of the modules defined in the repository.

Documentation included links and images what made documentation more convenient and informative.

Entire documentation was exported to an internal (shared & secured) website where it can be easily browsed by Red Book staff and learn about the database.

I'm around 70% of completing all of this documentation in a fraction of the time I expected. It looked scary at the beginning, but now with Dataedo, I see the end of this enormous task.
Jay Michael Heidbreder, Data Solutions Engineer, Red Book Solutions

Results

The first result of this approach was a widespread surprise at the size and complexity of the database. This was easily managed, and now, there is documentation of the database (fields, table relationships, and diagrams) in a central repository that the Red Book Solutions team can conveniently browse in an internal website.

There are at least five users who benefit from viewing the published website to gain some knowledge, which has already definitively happened.

On the entire task fraction of the time was spent on what was expected.

Summary of products created during implementation:

  1. Definition of foreign keys
  2. Visualization of a database schema in a number of ER diagrams
  3. Description of each database field
  4. HTML database documentation shared internal website

Key benefits:

  1. Knowledge about the database was captured and preserved in the organization
  2. Improved efficiency of writing accurate code
  3. Saving time on documentation effort
  4. Easier sharing of knowledge
  5. One source of reference about the schema of the database
  6. Easy access to convenient database documentation for the entire team
  7. Understanding and documentation of database table relationships (nearly 3000)
Sharing of "tribal" knowledge has led to writing accurate code more efficiently. Similar to how road maps changed the way people could travel across a country when the automobile became more available, Dataedo’s tool gives us a better means to show how database objects are connected together.
Jay Michael Heidbreder, Data Solutions Engineer, Red Book Solutions

The future

The number of users that use this documentation may grow in the future as Red Book Solutions is working with its HotSchedules offices in Austin and San Francisco where other application development takes place. In addition, they looking into expanding the use of Dataedo to include other databases in order to share information effectively.

We will continue to use Dataedo to maintain the documentation in this efficient and visually impressive application.
Jay Michael Heidbreder, Data Solutions Engineer, Red Book Solutions

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