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Joel on Software

How to handle schema files

Let me first say thanks to Joel for creating this forum. As someone who builds “shrink-wrap” software, I’ve come to love this site. Every article he’s written seems to articulate my pain and many have solved long standing issues. I can’t begin to explain nice it is to know there is a place where, to paraphrase Clinton, people “feel my pain”.

So, here is my question: How to handle schema files?

Should I not use them, and generate my dataset schema at runtime?
Should I build a bunch of schema files for each area?
Should I create one large schema file and use it everywhere?

Having multiple schema files (which seems to by Microsoft’s recommendation) would make changes to my schema a real pain as I have to make sure I don’t miss anything when updating 50-100 schema files.  So, I think I can rule that one out, but I can’t decide between the other two.

The only problem I see with .NET is that it feels anti-shrink-wrap. Leaving alone the runtime size, all of the documentation and examples seem geared toward in-house applications (or custom apps).

Marc LaFleur

Marc LaFleur
Thursday, September 19, 2002

One thing to keep in mind is that having schema files for your DataSets enables you to use early-bound syntax and IntelliSense when typing data access code. That alone may make it worth maintaining a schema file.

Mike Gunderloy
Friday, September 20, 2002

True. But I'm not sure how to make those files (1 large, many small).

The database has 183 tables in it....

Marc LaFleur
Friday, September 20, 2002

Well, I use the "many small" approach - though I might rethink if dealing with 183 tables. Not sure whether your question is about the mechanics of creating the schema files. You do know you can drag and drop tables from Server Explorer to a schema file in VS.NET to automatically create the appropriate schema?

Mike Gunderloy
Saturday, September 21, 2002

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