This article discusses various sources of database model examples you can use as a starting point for your data models.
Having a variety of database diagram examples on hand is very useful. This is true whether you are starting your career in database design or consider yourself a seasoned database professional.
It is a good idea to use existing database model examples as a starting point, rather than to try to reinvent the wheel. Use them as a reference to confirm you are not missing any key component or feature in your model. Or use them to identify enhancements and add-ons not considered in the analysis phase.
Below, I discuss several ways to search for database model examples.
The Vertabelo Blog: Articles Oriented Around Specific Types of Business
This blog has many articles that include online database diagrams. They are created with Vertabelo Data Modeler, a powerful web-based database modeling tool that is very easy to use. If you are planning to design a solution to solve a particular business requirement, you may search here for samples designed for a similar business.
Each of these articles includes business-oriented database diagram examples, along with an explanation of the business problem for which they are designed, the entities included, and the relationships among the entities. Most articles contain step-by-step instructions that help you create your designs using Vertabelo Data Modeler. Let’s take a quick look at some of them.
Integrated Transport Data Model
The article "Integrated Transport Data Model" is a simple starting point for integrated transport data, covering multiple means of transportation, companies, and cities.
Payroll Data Model
The article "Payroll Data Model" includes a complete data model to manage employees and payroll you can easily adapt to your specific needs.
Emergency Call Service Data Model
The article "911/112: An Emergency Call Service Data Model" may be referenced for managing a multi-city emergency call service, storing each call with the associated responses and alerts to multiple emergency services.
Wine Store Data Model
The article "A Data Model for a Wine Store" is a basic design for wine stores. However, it is easily adapted to any kind of retail company.
Public Opinion Agency
The article "A Public Opinion Agency Data Model" deals with the entities required to store information associated with polls, like questions, answers, and results.
The article "A Library Data Model" includes a comprehensive database design for a library system with multiple branches. The model consists of libraries, books, members, and loan information.
Extra Tip #1: I have mentioned just a few business-oriented articles on the Vertabelo blog that include database diagram examples. There are many more articles with ready-to-use examples in the blog, such as "Hotel Reservation & Booking," "Online Concert Ticket Sales," "Automobile Repair Shop," or even a complete "Recruitment System," all of which are identified with the "example data model" tag.
The Vertabelo Blog: Articles Oriented Around Requirements or Features
Besides the articles already mentioned, there are examples not for specific types of business but instead related to specific requirements or technical features. You can find useful information on how to model solutions for things like the topics below.
Articles like "Best Practices for Multi-Language Database Design" and "Database Design for Multi-Language Applications" give you insights on how to model an application to handle data in multiple languages.
The article "7 Key Things to Remember About Data Model Globalization" includes recommendations on how to handle numeric formats, currencies, phone numbers, addresses, dates and times, time zones, and multilingual support (already mentioned above). The article "Beverly Hills 90210 and ZIP+4: Handling Addresses in Data Models" provides a deeper analysis with examples of how to store address information – something you find on almost any database model.
Auditing & Logging
The article "Database Design for Audit Logging" explains different approaches (such as row versioning and shadow tables), each with an example data model, to store audit information.
Articles like "Best Practices for Designing a User Authentication Module," "How to Store Login Data in a Database," and "How to Store Authentication Data in a Database. Part 4" describe, with practical examples, how to model the user authentication portion of your application.
Extra Tip #2: Find a lot more articles from the blog by the "database design" tag.
Access to online resources was not common back when I was a student or when I was just beginning my professional career. The only way to learn new things was either by taking courses or by reading books.
Books are still a great way to get both conceptual and practical knowledge. Below are some that are invaluable when you need to design a data model.
The Data Model Resource Book
Well, this is not a book but a series of three volumes written by Len Silverston. They include both generic and industry-specific data models as described below:
- Volume 1 - A Library of Universal Data Models for All Enterprises: A collection of data modeling patterns including roles, hierarchies, contacts, classification, and others.
- Volume 2 - A Library of Data Models for Specific Industries: Data models organized by industry with sections for healthcare, insurance, financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications, professional services, travel, and e-commerce.
- Volume 3 - Universal Patterns for Data Modeling: Although this book covers similar patterns as those discussed in the previous two volumes, it focuses on reducing the time and cost of modeling while increasing consistency and quality.
Data Model Patterns
The book Data Model Patterns by David C. Hay includes chapters with data models for organizations (see chapters "The Enterprise and Its World" and "The Things of the Enterprise"), procedures and activities (see chapters "Material Requirements Planning" and "Process Manufacturing"), and subjects like "Contracts," "Accounting," "Laboratory," and "Documents."
Data Modeling by Example
Written by Barry Williams, this is also a series of three volumes, available only on Amazon's Kindle. Volume One is targeted at beginners and may seem very repetitive for those with some experience. Volume Two and Volume Three raise the complexity and include more useful examples.
Beginning Database Design
The book "Beginning Database Design" by Gavin Powell is an introduction to database modeling that also includes many database diagram examples.
Industry Associations and Standards Organizations
Industry associations and standards organizations often provide data models for their members. Many of these data models are available to the public.
Property and Casualty Insurance
OMG (Object Management Group) is an international, open membership, not-for-profit technology standards consortium that develops standards for finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, military, space exploration, and government sectors. Among their projects is a standard data model for property and casualty insurance that includes:
- PDF with business s
- Conceptual, logical, and physical data m
- erwin logical and physical data m
- SQL Server DDL scripts.
Retail Operational Data Model
Also by OMG, the ARTS (Association for Retail Technology Standards) operational data model is an extensive model that covers most aspects of the retail industry. It has dozens of diagrams for customer information, customer reward programs, retail transactions, financial reporting, inventory, and more!
Healthcare: OMOP Common Data Model
This data model developed by OHDSI (Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics) is an open community data standard. It is designed to standardize the structure and content of observational data, enabling efficient analyses to produce reliable evidence. The OMOP Common Data Model includes DDL scripts for many different database engines and an R package to analyze the data.
Forums and Communities
Finally, do not ignore the resources available on free/open forums and product communities. In these collaborative spaces, you find not only some great examples for data models but also a place to ask or discuss details.
One of the most used resources by developers and IT professionals, you may search here for existing topics (using the tag "database design") or post your own questions to get help from other professionals. On Stack Overflow, you find very useful discussions like:
- Relational Data Model for Double-Entry Accounting: The answers include a very detailed data model, scripts to create the tables, and even a PDF with the model.
- Derived account balance vs. stored account balance for a simple bank account?: Response from the same participant as the previous question, also with a very detailed data model and suggestions on how to improve it.
- Modeling hierarchical attributes: The answer is very detailed. It includes the syntax (for PostgreSQL) required to create the tables as well as sample queries to verify that the model meets the requirements.
Leverage Database Diagram Examples to Your Advantage
Whether from a renowned book, an organization website, a forum, or online models available on the Vertabelo blog, database diagram examples can help with your data models. You can use them to refine your models, discover and solve issues early in the development process, or give you ideas for additional enhancements and features. Use them wisely and often to guarantee your product is a real success!