The Society of Dismembered Body Parts by Alphonso Lingis

By Alphonso Lingis

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The windowing environment comes closer to mapping the way people really think and work than the old “one thing at a time” approach ever did. This lesson should not be lost. It should be built upon. Understanding the application tasks means going far beyond identifying the data elements, normalizing them, and creating screens, processing programs, and reports. It means really understanding what the users do and what their tasks are, and designing the application to be responsive to those tasks, not just to capture the data associated with them.

Two tasks can still be atomic if one occasionally depends upon the other, but only if each can and does get completed independently. If two tasks always depend upon each other, they are not atomic. The real atomic task includes them both. In most businesses, you will quickly discover that many tasks do not fit neatly into just one of the major (zero-level) tasks, but seem to span two or more, and work in a network or “dotted line” fashion. This is nearly always evidence of improper definition of the major tasks or incomplete atomization of the lower tasks.

English Words for the Data Having raised the important issue of naming conventions for tables and columns, the next step is to look at the data itself. After all, when the data from the tables is printed on a report, how self-evident the data is will determine how understandable the report is. In the BOOKSHELF example, Rating is a code value, and Category is a concatenation of multiple values. Is this an improvement? If you asked another person about a book, would you want to hear that it was a rated a 4 in AdultNF?

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