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Future nORMa releases, official version?

Last post Thu, Aug 14 2008 12:42 by Matthew Curland. 3 replies.
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  • Tue, Aug 12 2008 8:26

    • sensei
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, May 12 2008
    • Posts 3

    Future nORMa releases, official version?


    We are starting a new project and need a modelling tool. This will be a fairly large project with a table count between 120-200.

     I have only used nORMa to get used to it and small-scale stuff. I know some data types are missing and looking at the bug list I am not sure the current CTP is stable enough for us at this point.

    I would love to use nORMa and ORM v2, but i don't feel comfortable going that road with the current CTP. What is the future release plan for norma?

    Keep up the good work :)

  • Tue, Aug 12 2008 11:07 In reply to

    Re: Future nORMa releases, official version?

     Hello Sensei,

    I'll let a team member give you the official agenda for the tool's development.  I do know they are working on the grammar, and several incremental feature additions.  As regards the bug list and stability, my assumption is that most bugs are accounted for - even if they were not noted as fixed (because the newer versions did not have the same issues).  While still in CTP, I find it more stable than some released applications.  Also, some issues with nORMa are actually Visual Studio and DSL Tools issues.  

    Your concerns about using a CTP application for an important project are legitimate.  However, given the nature of the tool (what it does), I think you could use it as part of a set of tools (verifying the results with something you feel is more stable).

    You can certainly use the ORM methodology to analyze the UofD for your project.  The first steps there will be of value to you, no matter which tool(s) you opt to use.  I'd try to model it with nORMa, and see how far you can get.  Matt, and the others are helpful resources if you reach an impasse; and would want to know about the stumbling block in any case. 

    What I don't think you can assume is that the current version will provide a turn-key solution, giving you a complete physical implementation in your DBMS.  It should get you close (likely closer than any other approach).  You also can't tell the stakeholders that using the tool guarantees anything - but what does?  You ought to end up with a self documenting conceptual model of your application domain, and a reasonably close DDL script.

    You provided a number of tables estimate.  I'll accept that you know that by experience.  My approach is that the tool will tell me how many tables, and more importantly their structure connections.  Yes, you can estimate the number of tables by looking a a list of entity terms in the UofD; but how do you guess at the tables for the relations?   Don't be surprised if mapping the completed conceptual model gives you a different number.

    I'm curious, what methods/tools would you use for this project if ORM2 and the nORMa tool were not available?  Most business projects have restrictions on disclosure.  If this doesn't apply here, feel free to pass along project details.  Use your good judgment, and good luck in any case,


  • Tue, Aug 12 2008 16:21 In reply to

    • Ken Evans
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Sun, Nov 18 2007
    • Stickford, UK
    • Posts 748

    Re: Future nORMa releases, official version?

    If you "can't wait" to get into ORM and need a stable tool, then you can consider using VEA (Microsoft Visio for Enterprise Architects).

    The following diagram shows the functional scope of VEA.
    I drew this diagram for the VEA "how to" book which is referenced on the home page of this website.
    Future releases of NORMA will probably cover what you see here plus quite a number of other features yet to be anounced but the timescale is not "soon".

    Hope this helps



  • Thu, Aug 14 2008 12:42 In reply to

    Re: Future nORMa releases, official version?

    NORMA development continues, but the questions on 'official version' are certainly legitimate. The tool will not revert functionality at any time, and the open source veresion doesn't necessarily have a final 'version'. The question of whether it is called a CTP, Beta, or just a version comes down to stability and applicability in a commercial setting. The requests we're getting for commercial use are getting shorter, but I won't tip my hand as to what is on my list until others have posted on this thread.

    For stability questions, I continually try to improve issues I hit, but I can't act on 'crashed' or 'too many bugs' statements. If a user hits a problem, please take the time to track it down and get a post into the technical support forum. A couple of notes on 'crash' dialogs you might see (skip this to get to the feature part):

    • The posted NORMA versions are debug builds. This means that asserts are enabled in the code base. The asserts basically say 'you've reached an expected state that wasn't expected'. Assert dialogs are not crashes. They are meant to help the developer determine how an unexpected state was reached and handle the case. You will see three buttons on the dialog box (Abort, Retry, Ignore). Your default reaction to an assert dialog should be to:
      • Ctrl-C to copy the contents, which will include a message and a callstack. Paste into notepad to make sure you have the contents before closing the dialog.
      • Press Ignore to continue with NORMA. Abort will end the program immediately, Retry will attempt to attach a debugger. Obviously, if the asserts keep coming you may eventually have to quit, but most of these asserts can be ignored and you will be able to save.
      • Attempt to reproduce the condition and report the issue.
    • You will also see 'crash' dialogs from Visual Studio. NORMA is written in managed .NET code, while VS itself is a native (C++) framework. If you see a crash dialog, it generally means that an exception made it past the .NET code, but was handled by the native code. In most cases, you can safely continue and keep running. Do not panic and abort the program unless the dialog keeps coming back. You should also be able to get a callstack. A couple of NORMA notes in this area.
      • NORMA is built on a transacted object model, so if you get an exception during a transaction (basically, any user action such as setting a property. A single transaction corresponds to one item on the undo stack) then the state is already rolled back before you even see the dialog.
      • Another set of exceptions comes from toolwindows. All exceptions in NORMA toolwindows are cached and displayed after all toolwindows have finished updating. This was added as a stability feature to stop one unhandled transaction state or poorly implemented toolwindow from taking down all of VS. However, a successful recovery does not help if you abort the process.

    As for features, the question is 'Which missing features are blocking you from using NORMA in a production environment?'. I'd like some good discussion on this, so please have at it. Any topic besides sample population editor usability is fair game:)

    I'll start the list with 'customizable column order in relational tables' for myself, and 'uniqueidentifier (guid) datatypes' for sensei.


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