CS 4250: Project Part 1
Hardcopy (submitted during class time only) or email due by 5 pm on Wednesday,
August 31, 2022. (Email must be plain text, MS Word, or PDF,
with subject line "cs4250 project part 1". The email should be carbon-copied to all
project partners, for future reference. Do not compress the file. Do not send
a URL/link to a file stored somewhere on the web; send the file itself.)
- Form a team of 2-3 people and decide on a group name. Decide on a
good application for your database. Read the
Project Overview for project ideas.
- When forming your groups, it would be wise to discuss when
group members are available to meet. Selecting groups
so that members have overlapping free time in the members' weekly
schedules will make it easier to meet for group work.
- No groups will attempt exactly the same project.
(Do not concern yourself too much with this restriction; I will require you to tweak
project plans to prevent potential conflicts.)
- To facilitate constructive group work, you should consult the
strategies for teams: Team member handbook" by Kennedy and Nilson (3.2 MB).
- (20 points) Write a project proposal / description in the
(i) Name of the project. Full names and email
addresses of the students in the group.
(ii) The domain of your database application. (Your textbook calls this a "mini-world" or "universe of discourse.")
(iii) The intended user group for your database application.
(iv) What, in your domain, will be modelled by your system (and what will not)?
(v) Pages 40-41 in the
strategies for teams: Team member handbook"
discusses, among other important ideas, the importance of forming ground
rules for a working group, and provides some samples of possible group rules.
Discuss ground rules with your group, and include five or more ground rules
your group agrees on in your project proposal.
(vi) What other
"value-added" facilities could your system support? (Your group will not
build these facilities during this semester.)
The goal is for us to mutually agree on a project that is feasible over the course of one semester.
If you have questions, meet the instructor during office hours.
Yes, correct English grammar counts, in this document and always. Complete
English sentences are expected, grammatically correct and meaningful.
Wise Idea: Pick a domain for your database application that all members
of the group understand reasonably well. If only one member of a group
understands the data domain, and that member catches smallpox at an
inconvenient time, completing homework assignments satisfactorily will
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long should the proposal be?
Answer: Approximately one page if single-spaced, two pages if double-spaced.
If too long, your group is probably specifying details that should NOT be specified
at this point. If too short, your group may have forgotten one of the required parts.
- We want our users to do this and have a drop-down menu on the right and to be using a smartphone and ...
Answer: Tough luck. A database stores information, somewhat like a
library. What users of your database choose to build on top of your database
-- the devices they support, the layout of the user interfaces -- is entirely
up to your users. Your database simply makes data available to aid them,
as our campus library makes books available to students.
- "User group"? Huh?
Answer: Knowing who will be using your database application will
guide decisions about what data will be modelled by the system and what
will not. For example, if your project domain is "data about refrigerators,"
a user group of "people shopping for appliances" will want
very different data when compared to a user group of "engineers designing and
building new refrigerators."
"Everybody" is absolutely NOT an acceptable answer to this question.
Your group needs to have a clear idea of specifically who you are designing the
database for, before you begin design work. One, specifically identified group
of human database users.
(And only one.)
- Can you explain what you mean by "value-added facilities"?
A tool, service or application a database can "enable."
For example, in
the movies domain, this could mean the "recommender system" that makes
selections of movies for potential customers based on buying trends. In
other words, the recommender system is a tool or service customers might like,
which would be relatively easy to build if a movie database existed,
and difficult to build if no movie database existed.
This question is intended to set
you thinking in larger-scope, out-of-the-box, and to make you explain
potential advantages of your database from a user point of view. If you are
an IT person for a corporate organization, you will frequently need to
"justify" investing extra resources into developing something like a
database/web-system, etc. One way to do that is for you to think of
extra facilities that a database can make possible.
N.B. "If we add data about X, Y, Z..." No. Adding data is adding work,
sometimes quite a lot of work. Adding work would not make a new tool, service
or application an attractive project for your hypothetical employer / client.
N.B. It may help to think about some user group, not the intended user
group for your project, that may be interested in the data in your database.
Is there a tool for that other user group that could be built if the
- In the
part, "what will be modelled (and what will not)", what do you expect us
Answer: For example, in the movies domain,
you can write something like "We will model movies, actors, producers
and studios" but not "reviews, movie theaters and sales figures." This way all
of us are clear on what will be the final outcome.
This proposal is written for your (fictional) business manager, and should
not include techno-babble about primary keys or column data types. What your
group submits should be a proposal that will not change over the whole
semester, regardless of what changes to the technical design of your database
your group makes later on.
- We want to create the database for famous-company-X. Can we?
Answer: Do not violate trademarks or copyrights. Make up
a new company of your own that is in the same area of business of famous-company-X,
and propose building the database for your own (fictional) company.
- Um... and group rules should be about what?
Answer: (First, skim through the handbook above.)
Consider these questions that your group rules could answer:
Questions courtesy of "Avoiding the Groans, Sighs and Eye Rolls",
Inside Higher Ed, 13 Jan 2021.
- What norms/expectations do we establish for meetings (frequency, attendance, timeliness)?
- How will we handle making decisions amid conflicting opinions?
- How will we hold each other accountable to the norms we establish together?
- What communication tools will we use for discussion (Email, GroupMe, Slack)?
- Do we have to draw an E/R modelling diagram for our
Answer: No. I need just a
document, in simple English, that says what you will do and some details of what the
functionality of the final system is.