2. Specification of Requirements

2.1 Introduction

This section represents a specification for a package that is required to enable the viewing of data across the Internet or an Intranet.

2.2 General Description

Databases are an integral part of many businesses around the world. Through the Internet or an Intranet, it is possible for these databases to be made accessible to whomever the company wishes. Employees, clients, distributors, or other interested third parties may all wish to view the data contained therein, without the need for installation of extra software, every time they want to view a different database.

A package is required which allows a client user to view specific information from the database in a controlled and structured way, allowing viewing of not only simple data structures, but also complex ones. Thus, it needs to go beyond the functionality of a standard database viewer; i.e. one that presents the complete structure of the database to the user, and only allows viewing of standard data structures.

For the package to display only specific information, and do so in a controlled way, extra information about the data will have to be created describing what can be viewed by client users and, if necessary, how to view it. Thus, to complete the package, a management tool will be needed to allow database administrators to create the extra information as quickly as possible.

Once the package has been installed, it should not be necessary for the client user to install any other components, except for upgrade purposes. Downloading of new viewing mechanisms for unknown data structures should be done automatically by the package, with as little user intervention as possible.

The package needs to be able to access as many different types of commercial database as possible. These types include the traditional and widely used relation database model [5 p.7.18] and object-relational databases [5 p.7.34]. The database could also be on a single machine, or distributed across many machines, and even platforms.

2.3 Environment

The viewing package will be run on machines connected to the Internet or an Intranet. As such, it is not known what architecture the machines will be, or on what operating system the program will be run. Therefore, it should be possible to run it on as many different machine architectures and operating systems as possible.

The management package also needs to access as many different vendors’ databases as possible and do so from as many different platforms as possible.

2.4 Visual Display

The on-screen display should have a common look and feel throughout the package, and should be as easy and informative to use as possible.

2.5 Error Handling

It is essential that error-handling techniques be provided to ensure that the program does not crash if an unexpected event occurs, or a user tries to do something unexpected.

Appropriate warning messages should be provided, depending on the severity of the error.

2.6 Deliverable Items

The following deliverable items are required:

  1. Executable programs for both client users and the database administrator
  2. Clear installation notes
  3. Comprehensive, but simple to understand User Documentation